White Ink Tattoos – Complete Guide With Beautiful Images
You may have seen or heard about white ink tattoos before, but you may still be confused about what they are exactly, and how they’re made.
While there are thousands of people proudly showing off white ink tattoos all around the world, many of them will be far less than perfect.
White ink tattoos are much harder to pull off and do correctly when compared to normal tattoos, and within this article, you will learn everything there is to know about getting the perfect white ink tattoo for yourself.
Be aware though, there are definitely potential downsides as well as upsides to getting yourself a white ink tattoo.
What Are White Ink Tattoos?
While the very large majority of tattoos are made up primarily of black and colored inks, white ink tattoos contain nothing but the single white ink color. This form of body-art is generally seen as being much more delicate and subtle compared to most other ‘standard’ tattoos.
While many patterns and images can be created using white ink, because of it’s very light nature, the most common types of white ink tattoos created are lace-type patterns, as they help to portray a more natural look within the tattoo.
Because of the light, delicate nature of white ink tattoos, they have become particularly popular with women over the last several years, but many thousands of men have gone for the style also.
What you must know about white ink tattoos is that they are much harder to be done correctly, and generally require an extremely experienced artist who has previous hands-on experience with white ink tattoos.
Due to the dilution and formation of most white inks compared to other inks, it takes practise in order to create a tattoo exactly how it’s requested by the customer. Not only this, but it’s much harder to see the white ink as it’s being added to the skin, meaning that the artist must have a very well-trained eye to remain aware of exactly where the ink is going, and where it needs to go next.
If you’re wanting to get a white tattoo, you should think long and hard before taking the leap. White tattoos require much planning in order for the whole process to go as smoothly as possible, and you must also be aware that the color of your skin can massively dictate how visible and effective the tattoo turns out.
What To Do Before Getting A White Ink Tattoo
While you may be excited about getting a white ink tattoo and feel the need to rush to the parlour to get inked as quickly as possible, there are several factors you should take into consideration before making the big move.
Chose The Right Artist For The Job - As previously mentioned, if you want a white ink tattoo, then you should choose an artist who is experienced in creating them. If you decide to choose somebody who has never created a white ink tattoo in their life then it’s extremely likely your tattoo is going to turn out far from how you expected it to.
Not only this, but an experienced artist will be able to answer any important questions or queries you may have about the entire process.
For instance, artists that are experienced in creating white ink tattoos will know that the tattoos can look much more effective and well-done if a tiny, tiny amount of color is mixed in with the white ink. It doesn’t have to be any color in particular, but this small additional mix within the ink will allow the white to ‘pop’ and be much more visible within the skin (it will still look white - the other colors hardly be noticeable unless heavily scrutinized).
On the other hand, and an inexperienced artist may wish to use purely white ink with no other dilutions. This will mean that the tattoo will probably end up nearly invisible, and will end up looking more like a raised scar more than an actual tattoo.
Chose A Design That Will Complement The White Ink - Again, as mentioned, you should definitely choose a tattoo design that you are sure will turn out looking great in white ink. Remember, white tattoos are more difficult to create and therefore, the simpler the design, the higher the likelihood it’s going to turn out looking better.
If in doubt, always consult your artist, who will be able to give their professional opinion as to whether they think your idea will work well with white ink or not.
Visualize What You Tattoo May Look Like Down The Line - White ink tattoos generally don’t stand the test of time as well as normal tattoos. Because of how light they are, white inks tend to be the first to fade as a tattoo ages. For this reason, you need to be well aware before getting your tattoo that 20 years down the line, you may have nothing left of your once-awesome tattoo apart from a few raised lines of scar tissue.
However, there are some things you can do to help prevent your tattoo from becoming prematurely faded, and we will discuss those a bit later on.
Research Which Inks Your Artist Uses - While all tattoo inks are becoming safer as time goes by, in rare instances some artists (generally the less experienced ones) have been known to utilize unapproved inks in their work purely because they are cheaper to use.
Also, some artists may try to entice you by advertising the fact that their white ink tattoos can glow in the dark. Be aware that nearly all glow in the dark tattoos will contain at least small amounts of a potentially very damaging chemical element called phosphorus, which has been known to cause various types of cancer.
For these reasons, don’t be afraid to ask your artist what type (brand) of ink they intend to use for your white tattoo; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
How Quickly Do White Ink Tattoos Fade?
Unfortunately, the rumors are true in that white tattoos tend to fade at a much faster rate than darker ones. Is isn’t usually anything to do with the process of getting a white ink tattoo - more of the fact that lighter inks just generally fade quicker due to the lack of strong, hardy pigments within the ink mix.
And of course, white is a light as they come (although other inks such as reds, yellows, and greens also have a bad reputation when it comes to premature fading).
In terms of how long it actually takes for a white ink tattoo to fade, this is quite a tough question to answer because there are so many variables involved besides the lightness of the ink, and everybody who has a white tattoo will find themselves in their own completely individualized circumstance.
Other factors that can dictate how quickly your white tattoo fades include:
The Experience/Knowledge Of Your Artist
As already mentioned, in order to get a great tattoo, you need to pick a great artist.
Tattoo artists are not a “one size fits all” bunch of people. You need no qualifications and no certificates to draw on peoples skin, and therefore there are as many bad tattooists out there as there are good ones.
For this reason, ensure you pick the best artist that your money can buy, and somebody who is already highly experienced with using white ink in their work.
A great artist will know exactly how much to pack out the skin with ink in order for it to set in well and stay in there during the healing process (when the body is trying it’s hardest to get the foreign elements out from the under the skin).
A bad artist could all-too-easily misjudge how much ink to use (or which dilution strength to mix), which in-turn will only lead to a faster demise for your new prized possession.
Do your research and find a great artist - there are many out there.
How Well You Care For Your Tattoo While It Heals
Once you leave the studio, you’re on your own, and it’s your responsibility to help your tattoo get through the healing stages until it has finished healing.
You should follow your artist’s aftercare advice as closely as possible. Failing to do this and deciding not to look after your tattoo as best as you can will likely mean that your tattoo heals sub-optimally.
A poorly healed tattoo can finish up looking patchy, dull, and faded - and if you’re not careful, you could end up with an infection, which in extreme circumstances can lead to permanent scarring throughout the area.
By looking after your white ink tattoo as best as possible while it heals, you’re ensuring it starts its journey looking bright and healthy
How Well You Care For Your Tattoo After Healing
Looking after a tattoo doesn’t stop once it’s finished scabbing and peeling. In order for your white ink to remain looking bright and vibrant, you’ll want to make sure you moisturize it as much as possible (ideally every day). This ensures the skin is well nourished and hydrated - and healthy skin means a healthy looking tattoo.
Giving the skin over the tattoo a gentle scrub once in a while will also help to pull away any dead skin cells which could be sitting on top of the ink and giving it a more faded, lacklustre appearance. Doing this regularly will help the white ink to break through the skin as best as possible.
Important Tattoo Aftercare Steps You Must Ensure You Take
Some of our other awesomely-helpful guides:
How Well You Keep Your Tattoo Away From Direct Sunlight
It’s common knowledge that the sun is the biggest tattoo killer out there.
The intense beams of UV firing into your skin will relentlessly damage the area and cause the ink to break up and fade away. Even more so for a color so light and delicate as white.
Try to keep your white ink tattoo as protected from the sun as possible. Stay in the shade when you can, and if you must go out in direct, intense sunlight, make sure you choose a good, reliable sunscreen to shield the area from the harmful rays (but not until the tattoo has completely finished healing. In the meantime, just don’t flaunt your new ink in the sun).
The bottom line is - if you don’t look after your ink very well, and if you choose to get your ink done by an experienced artist, you could find your white ink tattoo fading significantly in the first year. However, if you care for it properly and get it done by an experienced professional, there’s no reason why it can’t look amazing for many years (or even decades to come).
Are White Ink Tattoos Always Raised?
What you need to understand is that all tattoos are slightly raised whether they are white or any other color. The tattooing process causes the skin to scar as it heals, normally causing it to end up slightly raised.
The only reason why people generally think that white tattoos heal with more raised skin is that the ink is much lighter, meaning that the raised skin is more visible and therefore becomes more apparent when compared to tattoos created with much darker inks.
Sometimes, a white tattoo can fade so much that the color looks like it has essentially completely washed out, therefore leaving just a raised area of normal-colored skin.
When this happens, it’s not uncommon for the area to just look like a collection of raised scars laid out in a peculiar set of patterns.
What Do White Ink Tattoos Look Like On Light/Pale Skin?
Due to the very light and delicate nature of all white ink tattoos, it’s clear to see that the paler the skin, the more obscure the tattoo is going to look. It has been known for some people with extremely pale skin to come out of a tattoo studio having gotten a white tattoo and not even being able to see any of the ink (apart from the redness and swelling around it).
Normally, as long as your skin isn’t completely white, you should be able to see the ink when looking at the area carefully, although you should accept that the tattoo will generally be rather difficult to make out at any distances greater than a meter or two.
If your skin is very pale and you wish to get a white ink tattoo, be sure to check the quality of ink your artist is using before he begins the procedure. Poor quality white ink is very likely to turn into a offset white/yellow color a few years down the line, especially if it’s frequently exposed to sunlight. If you’re very pale, there is more of a chance for the color change to become much more noticeable.
Finally, pale skin is much more likely to get sunburned when compared to darker skin, and for this reason, the likelyhood of the white ink fading over time is higher due to the skin cells dying and regenerating at a faster rate.
What Do White Ink Tattoos Look Like On Dark, Tan & Black Skin?
Dark skin is perfect for white ink tattoos. The white ink stands out better, and can really pop if done by a good artist due to the huge difference in contrast between the dark skin pigment and the white pigments stored within the ink.
While lightly tanned skin presents less contrast between itself and a white ink tattoo compared to darker/black skin, the tattoo can still look impressive if done correctly.
With dark skin, tattoo discoloration becomes less of an issue due to the contrast between areas continuing to remain high. For this reason, the human eye will still generally see off-white ink as a nice bright white, even if it’s not, due to the vast difference in tone when compared to its darker surroundings.
How Much Do White Ink Tattoos Cost?
If you’re about to read this sections thinking that white ink tattoos are vastly more expensive when compared to regular ones, then you are unlikely to be alone. However, you will also probably be surprised to know that in fact, white ink tattoos, on average, will cost exactly the same as their black/grey/color counterparts.
Tattoos are seldom priced based on their obscurity, pattern, or color, but are in fact nearly always priced up according to time taken, artist experience, and planning required.
Yes, having a colored tattoo will likely turn out slightly more expensive than a black/grey one due to the slightly higher costs that colored inks are sold to the studio at, but a white ink tattoo will usually cost no more than a blue, green, red or yellow one.
Below are the main factors when it comes to white ink tattoo prices:
How Long The Tattoo Will Take
This is usually tied in with size and detail. If your proposed white tattoo is very small contains no intricate or difficult patterns, then the price of the tattoo will be much less when compared to a large piece with very fine lines and detailed lace tattoo patterns, for example.
However, it should be noted that white ink tattoos are generally more simple in design when compared to tattoos of other colors. This is because shading, texture, and layering added to regular tattoos is seldom used when the tattoo is fully white. These techniques would be pointless, as they will not work without at least two tones of color being used.
For this reason, white tattoos can sometimes work out even cheaper than their darker, more detailed counterparts.
How Experienced Your Artist Is
An artist with little experienced will likely be very cheap, but remember, all too often a very cheap artist will equate to a very poorly executed tattoo (not always, but a lot of the time). Not only this, but an inexperienced artist is much more prone to putting your health in danger by practising poor hygiene methods within their place of work.
While an artist highly experienced with white ink tattoo’s is not going to be cheap, they will more than make up for it with their precise and careful work, which you will appreciate for years to come.
How Much Planning The Tattoo Needs
A small and simple tattoo may only take a few moments to print off and prepare. However, a large tattoo incorporating many different images and patterns will require a lot more work from the artisat to ensure everything merges together seamlessly. All of this detailed planning takes a lot of time, and time equals money.
How To Look After & Care For A White Ink Tattoo
As with every type of tattoo procedure on this planet that requires the skin to be broken, good aftercare once your tattoo has been finished is absolutely vital.
In general, the healing stages and aftercare process required for a white tattoo is no different to any other type of tattoo. Below are the most important steps to consider when looking after your new ink:
Wash Your Tattoo Regularly
You will need to keep your new tattoo as clean as possible. A new tattoo is essentially just an open skin wound in which bacteria can easily enter and cause infection if you’re not careful.
You should wash your tattoo carefully but firmly with lukewarm water and a skin-sensitive, colorless soap (like these specialized tattoo soaps). Make sure your hands have been thoroughly cleaned before touching your tattoo.
Once the tattoo has been washed, gently pat the area dry with a clean paper towel. You must refrain from rubbing the area as this can cause damage to the tattoo.
You should wash your tattoo morning and night, and at any point in between where you suspect the area may have come into contact with something unsanitary.
Only Use Small Amounts Of Lotions
Smothering your tattoo with a thick layer of gloopy lotion is a sure-fire way to starve the area of the oxygen it needs in order to heal effectively. Not only this, but large amounts of lotion can actually cause fading of the ink by drawing it out from the skin. Only apply enough lotion required in order to coat the area with a very light film.
Try to apply lotion each time your wash the tattoo to prevent the area from drying out afterwards. However, you should never apply a new layer of lotion over an older layer without washing the area clean first, as this can cause tattoo bubbling.
Ensure the lotion you use is tattoo-friendly and contains no artificial colors or scents, as these are known to commonly irritate newly tattooed areas of skin, which can delay healing and cause unnecessary discomfort.
My Favourite Tattoo Healing/Moisturizing Lotion
The best tattoo lotion I've ever personally used is a (vegan) tattoo aftercare product called Hustle Butter. This stuff works amazingly during the healing process - not only to keep your tattoo really well hydrated but it's also very good at soothing that annoying itching.
Many other users of the product also advise that when using it from the very start of the healing process it appears to decrease healing times and seems to reduce heavy scabbing.
Read more about Hustle Butter here. Have a quick look at some of the customer reviews and you'll see why it's one of the most popular tattoo lotions.
Here is a selection of my other favorite tattoo lotions and ointments that are currently on the market.
Don’t Pick Your Tattoo When It Peels/Scabs
While white ink tattoos tend to peel and scab much more lightly when compared to regular tattoos, you will probably still notice these processes happen during the healing stages
First, your tattoo will start to scab over. Then, these scabs will slowly begin to flake and fall away. This is completely normal and you should not in any circumstances attempt to pull off these scabs or pieces of flaking skin before they are ready to fall away on their own. Doing so can cause infection, delay healing, and can even cause permanent fading and scarring.
Don’t Scratch Your Tattoo
As above, scratching your tattoo can transfer bacteria to the site of the wound, which can in-turn cause a nasty infection, which if left untreated can cause permanent physical damage to your tattoo.
Keep Out Of Sunlight
As already mentioned, sunlight is enemy number one for white ink tattoos, and even more so while the tattoo is healing. The skin will be highly delicate while it’s recovering, and the strong UV rays from the sun (and sunbeds) will quickly and easily cause damage to the area if you’re not careful.
Stay Away From Water
All forms of water harbor bacteria, some of which will wreak havoc within your new tattoo. Stay out of all water until the area has completely healed. Bath water is generally very dirty, so when you wash, do so by showering quickly while trying not to submerge your tattoo for too long under the water jets.
Continue Your Care
Many people think that when a tattoo has finished healing, they don’t need to look after it anymore. This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth,.
You should continue to lotion your tattoo with a good moisturizer every day to ensure the area remains well-hydrated and nourished. A tattoo will only look as good as the skin that surrounds it.
Due to the lightness and delicacy of a white ink tattoo, looking after it as regularly as possible is paramount in ensuring the color remains bright and vibrant for as many years as possible.
If done correctly and looked after well, white ink tattoos can look absolutely beautiful and spectacular for many years. However, if a white tattoo was drawn poorly and not cared for appropriately from the outset, it may not even make it to its first birthday before it begins to look more like an area of pretty-looking scar tissue than it does an actual tattoo.
Do everything right, pick a good artist, and look after your new prized possession as best as possible, and you will be rewarded handsomely in the form of a perfect white ink tattoo.