You came across the white ink tattoos trend online and now you’re considering to get one. There are a few things you should take into account before impulsively booking your appointment, though.
Let’s take a deep dive through the pros and cons together, but first, what are they exactly?
What white ink tattoos really are
White inked tattoos honestly speak for themselves. These are tattoos that are inked into the skin with tattoo white ink only.
The white ink is constantly being used by tattoo artists for adding highlights or to lighten other colors. Unlike traditional tattoos where the outlines are black and they’re filled in or shaded with (also black or) colored ink, a white ink tattoo is completely white.
This gives the tattoo a really subtle and delicate look.
Why do people get a white tattoo?
Well, besides the subtle and delicate look we just mentioned, there are people that are in it for the ‘badass’ look.
Ever heard of scarification? It’s a form of body modification where the skin gets purposefully cut to create scars in different designs.
The look of scars
White ink tattoos tend to look ‘bumpy’ or risen up, just like scars do! So, if anyone is into the look of scars, this is a great option to get that look.
Since they’re not actual scars, they’re really easy to coverup aswell! Everything goes over white ink after all.
Some of the bold moves, are subtle
For certain people, getting a tattoo is a big step and comittement. Not everyone is into the look of the traditional colored tattoos aswell!
People that like the idea of having a permanent personal reminder on their body, but don’t want to commit to black ink tattoos – might consider a white tattoo.
Perfect for hiding something in plain sight aswell!
It’s a great way of getting a tattoo with a deep, personal message while still keeping it subtle.
It's also a great idea for your first tattoo
If you can’t commit to tattoos just yet, but love the idea of them, getting some white ink might be just for you!
We’ve already mentioned this, but they’re the easiest to cover aswell. Although, even if you don’t like your tattoo you might not even need a coverup. Since it’s white, the fading will take care of most of the work.
But, wouldn't they fade really quick?
Yes! Lighter color inks fade quicker in general. With white ink being the lightest color ink, there’s bound to be some fading expected. It’s obviously also the color that fades the quickest.
There are a few factors that contribute to this, one of them being:
White ink is relatively translucent: reason behind discoloration
As explained in our article about tattoo aftercare, when we get ink injected into our bodies, that ink goes to the second layer of the skin. What happens there is the reason why our tattoos are permanent and also why we can see them. The white blood cells engulf the ink and isolate it, making the tattoo permanent. Since the first layer of the skin is relatively thin, we can see the ink through the surface of the skin.
This is also why we say that skin tone is important when it comes to color tattoos. Since we can see the set tattoo through our skin (as it isn’t set on the surface), this means our natural skin color will be prominent. It will always be dominant unless the ink is darker than your natural complexion.
With time, the white ink tattoo will set, it’ll go through some tear and wear (as with any tattoo) and your skin tone will start showing up more and more, causing the white to fade. Since it’s white, it doesn’t take that much of tear and wear either.
If you’ve asked yourself the question why a white ink tattoo wouldn’t necessarily stay white, this is also the explanation for that. Once your natural complexion starts showing, bye white.
The reaction of the melanin we produce to the white ink, might also cause the white ink to get discolored.
White can be difficult to see, especially when trying to ink it on a lighter skin tone. This can cause your tattoo artist to be more careful and not apply it with full force!
When ink isn’t injected deep enough, it will fade much faster.
Explaining the raised skin effect
People tend to get confused about the raised skin white ink tattoos might have. This is actually the case with all tattoos. Or at least, most tattoos. It all depends on the person’s skin and how it reacts to the process of getting tattooed.
Usually, we wont see that effect as much since there’s ink covering it. White, being ‘translucent’ wont cover that much. So, the raised skin effect is more visible with white ink.
This is also why the long-term result of getting a white ink tattoo might look like a scar. When the white ink fades, you’d be left with the raised skin in the shape of that tattoo!
White ink on dark skin!
Have you ever heard someone say that dark skinned people seem to have whiter teeth? Or at least, it looks that way.
Darker skin tone ensures more contrast, so, the discoloration can be less visible. Just as this goes for teeth, it’s the same principle with white tattoos.
Some people claim that because of this, a white ink tattoo would look better on someone with dark skin. However, this still varies from person to person! Since darker skin tones are, well, darker – the white ink might also fade much quicker. Dark dominates light, right?
Either way, if you’re a person of color and you want to get a white ink tattoo, just go for it!!!
More pain? Busting the myth
There’s a lot of people that will tell you white ink tattoos are more painful. This is somewhat untrue and we’d like to add: take whatever they’ve told you with a grain of salt.
The people that think white ink tattoos can be more painful, probably don’t have a white ink only tattoo themselves. They’ve most likely had some white highlights added onto a tattoo and therefore assume white ink is unbearable.
While it is a fact that white ink highlights can be more painful, it’s not said white tattoos themselves are more painful.
Highlights with white ink are often added at the very end of the tattooing process. Keeping in mind that white is more difficult to appear on the skin, several passes are required in order to saturate the area fully!
Now, you should also remember that at the very end of being tattooed, your skin is tired and very sensitive. Enduring all of the trauma skin goes through when getting new ink and then having to go through more passes to saturate an area that’s already sensitive… It’s kind of obvious you’ll be in excruciating pain!
This has nothing to do with the white ink itself, though! With this said, a white tattoo shouldn’t be more painful than any other tattoos.
Things to ensure your white ink tattoo lasts longer
As with any other tattoos, there are certain things you can do to keep it looking fresh.
First and foremost, follow the aftercare instructions your artist gives you! This is crucial for the healing process. Unproper aftercare can be detrimental to how your white tattoo ink body art will look in the future!
Stay away from direct sunlight! When going into the sun, make sure you cover your tattoo. Like we all know, sunlight can be detrimental to our tattoos. Don’t tan aswell.
Apply sunscreen if necessary.
Keep it moist
Even once fully healed, it’s important to keep moisturizing your tattoos if you want them to look fresh.
Hydrating from the inside out might also be a good idea, drink enough water!
Tattoos made with white inks fade unpredictably. Some will fade much quicker, leaving the scar effect behind.
Others wont fade as fast, but will experience more discoloration.
Yes! You just have to know the potential ‘risks’. If you’re okay with the fact there’s a chance your tattoo will fade quicker, why not?
Just make sure you go to a professional tattoo artist that knows what they’re doing! This way, your tattoo will last longer and you’ll get clean lines.
Good question! Since white pigment is harder to show up on, any skin tone, there might be more ink being used in white ink tattoos.
As explained above, most tattoo artists will probably go over the tattoo design a couple of times. This is, because white ink makes it harder for the skin to be saturated with the color.
Yes and no.
They can be more painful, but aren’t necessarily. It all depends.
This has to do with discoloration.
It’s a risk and a factor to consider before getting a white ink tattoo. This can be due to the tattoo simply fading and your natural skin tones showing up, or the melanin we produce.