How to change your emoji's skin tone on iPhone or iPad

As part of Apple's ongoing efforts to address diversity, they continue to offer a much wider array of cultures and ethnicities for face and hand symbols on iPhone and iPad. Face and hand emoji now start off with a "neutral" (i.e. classic yellow) emoji. Each also offers five alternate skin tone options based on the Fitzpatrick scale for standard dermatological representation, as adopted by the Unicode Consortium.

In layman's terms, you can change your face and hand emoji to display the skin tone you prefer instead of using the skin color of the characters on The Simpsons. You likely already know how to use emoji, and changing the skin tone is just as easy.

How to enter the new, diverse emoji on your iPhone or iPad

  1. Tap the globe key to switch to the emoji keyboard as usual.
  2. Tap and hold down on a face or hand emoji to bring up the selector.
  3. Tap on the skin tone variant you want to use.

You can do this as often as you want by following the steps above; however, your iPhone or iPad will remember which skin tone you selected and set that as the default until you chose to change it once again.

Any Questions?

Let us know in the comment below!

Updated December 2018: Updated this article to reflect the changes in iOS 12.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Anyone know if the new emoji are available on Yosemite? I'm running the updated software, but I can't figure out how to get them to show. I can see the "generic" yellow ones, but I don't see any other tone options.
  • Supposedly that was part of the 10.10.3 update as well.. I've not updated though, so still see the old ones.
  • nvm, yes, forgot, I'm in beta.. Umm.. just scroll down a little under faces, you'll see the 'human' faces.. Then click and hold on one and it will pop up multiple options.
  • Ahh, got it. I forgot you can't change 'em all. Thanks!
  • All the 24k Gold and Black people I know LOVE this update!
  • Why the emoji just left of the cop is black emoji with blonde hair???!!! Why not black with black hair???
  • You can see the space in the first table where the Live Long and Prosper emoji will likely go.....
  • Where is the predictive feature? That would really make it pop. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I do think the way to scroll between tables/pages is easier.
  • They've even got emojis for homosexual families. Look at Apple pushing a much more socially tolerant agenda. Good for them. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have actually lost the option for emoji's on my stock keyboard. How would I go about getting that back? Sent from the iMore App
  • New emoji keyboard memes for fun!
  • I'm facing issues with keyboard after updating to iOS 8.3 on iPhone 6.
    As typing on native keyboard, preview of the tapped letter/character is freezing until I type next key and continues...!
    This is not happening in third party keyboards.
    Is anyone facing same issue?
    How to get rid of this? Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm having the same problems with my iPhone 6. Very very frustrating
  • I found more information here
  • I didn't. I found an ad.
  • So sad they didn't add Egypt flag emoji.
  • How do I get all the flags?
  • Any luck? Still trying to figure flags also zzzz HELP!! Lol
  • I see no Central American flags!!!??? No salvadorean or guatemalean flag??? Wow -__- I'm offended...
  • I love everything except once, soley by accident, I came across an "index" to the emoji's which is something I've always wished for, as my vision is poor and I often cannot see the detail of the emoji til I take a screenshot and enlarge it. I would love to be able to type in "cocktail glass" for example, and have that emoji pop right up for me to choose--it or from a selection of a few that may come up. Can you please instruct me on how to obtain access to this very helpful list that I cannot find anywhere except this one time by mistake, I would so love to have it! Thank you so very much. Khahnwally