Black & Grey – Colour or Wash?

As the old saying goes, “ there’s more than one way to skin a cat” and black and grey tattoos are no exception. Whether you’re covering an old tattoo or starting with a clean slate, using the right technique and ink is essential in getting your tattoo to look its best.

There are two ways to achieve a black and grey looking tattoo; and that’s with grey washes, or grey coloured ink.

Grey wash – most commonly seen when thinking of black and grey tattoos


• Made with a gradient of diluted black ink
• Good for very light soft shading
• Lightens slightly once healed, compared to fresh
• Better on ‘clean’ skin as it uses skin tone as a colour

Grey Coloured ink – better for cover ups


• Thicker and more opaque meaning it works much better at covering old tattoos
• Can be applied solidly to increase saturation and cover age
• Has a milkier finish and heals similarly to when it was fresh
• Can be used in conjunction with grey washes to add depth and interest (e.g. tiger background in first picture above)

So in short, if you’re looking for a cover up, your best option is likely going to be grey coloured ink as they have much better coverage and saturation compared to grey wash. However, if you’re looking to have a fresh tattoo and you like the look of classic black and grey tattoos, then grey washes are going to work for you.

Either way, speak to your artist, they’re there to help and give you the best piece of work they can.

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