Tattoo Recoloring: Can You Change the Color Of An Existing Tattoo

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Having a colored tattoo can be a double-edged sword type of experience. First of all, colored tattoos generally look exceptional; they are more vibrant and lively than the regular, black & white tattoos, and make the tattoo design come to life and stand out.

However, as time goes by and your tattoo gets older, some of the colors can change shade or fade away. That might seem the perfect moment to get a tattoo touch-up. But, what if you want to change the color scheme of the tattoo completely? Can you just go with another color for your existing tattoo, or is that just too much to expect?

Well, if you’re wondering whether this is possible, you’re at the right place. In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a look at the possibility of tattoo recoloring and what your options are. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Tattoo Recoloring Options

First; let’s tackle the question in the article title. Can you change the color of an existing tattoo? Yes, surely you can. But, there’s a catch in how it can be done, and there aren’t a lot of options for your tattoo artists to use. Here’s what you can expect for the recoloring process;

Blending Colors

Tattoo recoloring is possible in case you want to change the color scheme of your tattoo, but there is a catch. In order to make this work as well as possible, your tattoo artist will have to blend the existing color with a new one to form a new ink color.

But, this cannot be done with just any ink color; there has to be some logic to this process. For example, if your tattoo has yellow ink, the tattooist can add a little bit of red ink to make your tattoo appear orange.

Now, the tattoo artist has to be smart about blending colors. They cannot just slap one color over the other and call it a day. Instead, they have to make it look as if one color is fading in and the other is fading out. This way, the blending will look natural and the mixing of the color won’t ruin the tattoo.

However, if you’re tattoo is already covered in darker colors, this process will be almost impossible. The tattooist cannot pull out the dark color and replace it with another. And, by adding another color over it, they can make the tattoo appear even darker. So, this process is only possible with lighter-colored tattoos or tattoos where the color has faded significantly.

Also Read: Can You Mix Tattoo Ink Colors? Everything You Need To Know About Tattoo Ink Mixing and Blending

Changing The Color Completely

Now, if you want to change the color of the tattoo completely, you might come across some issues. As we mentioned, you cannot pull the color out of the tattoo; the only way to get rid of the color is to get laser tattoo removal, and we don’t recommend this mostly because you cannot tattoo the same region, and the laser will get rid of everything, not just the color.

So, the only option here is to cover the tattoo with another color. But, the only way to do it is for your tattoo artist to use a darker ink color and consistently cover the whole tattoo. At this point, you can only hope that the existing color will take to it and now develop an ugly brown shade.

Now, this process is completely impossible with purple tattoos. Even if you do add a darker ink over the purple color, you will end up with a dark, not colored tattoo.

Also, the tattoo artist has to be logical about the color choice. If you want to cover a yellow tattoo with light blue ink, you will end up with a mess. No tattoo artist will do that in the first place.

So, to make this work, the new color has to be in the same undertone range as the existing color, to make the transition look as natural as possible. For example, light-colored tattoos can be recolored by adding a darker shade of the same color. Imagine you have a light blue tattoo; you can completely change the color with only dark blue so that the colors blend properly and flawlessly.

Things To Consider Before Tattoo Recoloring

Let’s just say that tattoo recoloring is a huge step to make since you can’t really go back. Also, there is always a chance that the color might not sit or blend well, so you must takes this risk into account before the final decision. However, apart from the obvious risks, there are some other things you should consider before recoloring your tattoo;

The Color Choice

  • Make sure to go for colors that are in the same undertone range as the existing color of your tattoo.

By doing this, your tattoo artist will ensure proper color blending or fading between the two colors. If you do want to go after a completely different color range or scheme, your tattoo artist will have an extremely hard time achieving proper coloring without ending up with a dark brown mess. In such cases, you can expect the majority of tattoo artists to step away from recoloring.

The Color Shade

  • Make sure to always go for the same color as the existing tattoo but in a darker shade.

This way the tattooist will achieve a seamless blending and transition between the existing and the new color. For example, if your tattoo contains a light green color, then the tattooist should use a darker green to cover it and change the tone and shade of the tattoo.

The Tattoo Artist

  • Always go for a professional and experienced tattoo artist, who specializes in color mixing and blending.

Some tattoo artists are color experts, which makes them perfect for the task of tattoo recoloring. You don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t have a perfect understanding of color relation and how each color works with one another on the skin. So, before you go for the first tattoo artist that comes to your mind, make sure to do some research and find someone who is a color expert and who has actually done tattoo recoloring in their career.

The Tattoo Design and Size

  • Think about whether your tattoo is suitable for recoloring. If it’s of an intricate design or smaller size, chances are that tattoo recoloring will be that much harder to achieve.

This is because it will take your tattoo artist hours to blend colors and pack them in properly. Complex and intricate tattoo designs make this process much harder, and if the color doesn’t set properly, it can destroy the flow of the design, or even its lines and shape. A professional tattoo artist will share this info with your right away and let you know whether your tattoo is a suitable candidate for tattoo recoloring.

Tattoo Recoloring FAQs

Can Color Be Removed From A Tattoo?

As you know, tattoos are permanent body art, and as such make it impossible to remove or pull out color from the tattoo. If you want to change your tattoo by removing color, let’s just say right away that it is an impossible task.

However, as the color of the tattoo fades, you can always resort to laser tattoo removal. This is your only option of getting rid of the color, but also the whole tattoo. Moreover, because the laser only recognized darker ink, it can be pretty hard to remove lighter ink colors, like yellow, white, light blue, green, or red, etc.

Of course, it is possible to remove lighter colors, but you will have more of the laser removal sessions, which will increase the cost of that process significantly.

Can A Tattooist Turn a Colored Tattoo Into a Black & Grey One?

Generally speaking, specialized tattoo artists can try to turn the lighter ink shades of your tattoo into white or grey ink. The black ink cannot be colored, that is simply impossible. Even the attempt to turn a color tattoo into a black & grey one is something that the majority of tattooists will refuse to do.

The only thing a tattooist can truly do, if a tattoo is smaller and not too colored, is to cover certain parts in black ink. No color can be simply taken away from the tattoo, so that’s about it.

Some tattooists may try to cover the color with white ink, but that might not work, since the color underneath might still show through, especially if the color is really saturated. To make white ink visible, the tattooist will have to go in with the needle multiple times in only one place, which would also hurt like hell.

When Can I Recolor My Tattoo?

In case you don’t like how your colored tattoo is healing, and you think another color scheme would work better, then you’ll have to be patient. You cannot touch up or do anything with a tattoo until it’s fully healed. This process can last up to six months. Even after your tattoo is healed, you should still wait for a few weeks just to be completely sure.

Can A Tattooist Cover A Tattoo With Skin-Colored Ink?

Let’s just say right away that it is impossible to cover a tattoo with skin-colored ink. That is because the ink is placed in the dermis of the skin, which is the inner layer of the skin. Furthermore, since the skin is lighter than the ink, the skin-colored ink won’t be able to hide the pre-existing ink, and it will always show through. So, if you don’t want your tattoo to exist, then the only thing you can do is get laser removal.

Final Thoughts

So, that’s about it when it comes to tattoo recoloring. Unless you’re willing to darken out the tattoo a bit or get some fading and blending going on, there isn’t much you can do to change the color of the tattoo completely. Just make sure to always work with experts and professionals when you’re opting for a tattoo touch-up or any kind of color change.

Otherwise, you might be dealing with a mess later, which implies you’d need a laser removal session. And, that will simply cost and hurt too much long-term, than would a professional tattoo artist.

For more information, make sure to talk to your tattoo artist, or even consult a dermatologist just to check the condition of your skin. Check out our other articles for more info on tattoo fading, ink colors, and tattooing overall.

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