Client Skin Tone

  • The traditional concepts of colour theory in the beauty industry, such as makeup application, are very different when applied to cosmetic tattooing, as the clients skin tone will heal and blend with the pigment implanted into the skin over time.
  • One of the most complex factors is the changing skin tones of a client over the seasons.  Skin tone can be affected by a variety of factors, such as skin conditions/diseases (for example Albinism: a disorder characterised by little or no melanin production in the skin, Vitiligo: a disorder that affects the loss of skin colour in blotches on the skin) genetic makeup, environmental factors and nutrition.  
  • Each client will have their own unique skin compositions and complexions, and this must be considered when choosing a technique for the CT procedure.
  • One of the most important components of the skin that relates to the complexion is melanin.  This pigment in the skin is a large factor when determining skin colour and its variations and ratios in the skin are different in ratio in every individual.
  • The ratio of melanin also contributes to a person’s hair and eye colour.
  • Melanin behaves differently in everyone and are produced in specialised cells that are called melanocytes.  
  • The higher the ratio of melanin in the skin results in a darker complexion, the lower the ratio of melanin the lighter the skin tone.  Humans commonly change the ratio of the melanin in their skin by tanning, as the skin stimulates the production of melanin thereby protecting the skin again excessive UV exposure.  This environmental and seasonal factor needs to always be taken into consideration when selecting an appropriate pigment colour.
  • The skin’s outertone/overtone can change over time, however the undertone of the skin will always remain the same.  Undertones are the colours beneath the surface of the skin, the overtone of the skin is what we see with the human eye.
  • Determining your client’s skin outer and undertones will directly affect the healed results of your client’s cosmetic tattoo procedure. 

Skin Outer tone

The human skin comes in a variety of skin tones, not one being a true white, black, red or yellow skin as melanin within the epidermis add these hues to the cells.  It is the melanin in the outertone of the skin that has the largest influence on the outcome of a cosmetic tattoo procedure rather than the undertone.  A client’s individual skin outertone will add colour to the healed result of the tattoo from above the implanted pigment.

Skin Undertone

The dermis is under the top epidermis layer of the skin, and the amount of melanin in this area determines a person’s skin undertone.  


  • Lower levels of melatonin = veins appear blue, cooler complexion
  • Higher levels melatonin = veins appear green, warmer complexion
  • Another important factor affecting the healed outcome of a healed tattoo in relation to the influence of a client’s skin undertone, is the saturation of pigment implanted into the skin ie ombre brow = high saturation of pigment / microblading = lower saturation of pigment implanted into the skin.

The three main categories of skin undertone are:

Base tone of skin is –

Warm – green, peach, sallow, yellow or gold

Cool – blue, pink or red (a ruddy complexion)

Neutral A mixture of both warm and cool hues where it is difficult to choose either cool or warm, or if the undertone of the skin is the same colour as the client’s actual skin tone. To explain this more in depth, some client’s that have an olive complexion may have an ash/grey undertone.  This is defined as a neutral warm undertone.

Many people have the same skin outertones but different undertones. A common misconception is that a client with a fair skin tone cannot have a warm undertone, or that a dark-skinned client can’t have a cool undertone. This is why it is very important to determine your client’s true undertones, rather than relying on you’re the client’s skin complexion.