White Ink Tattoos: Pros and Cons

John Dietrich

White ink tattoos are the rare bird of the tattoo world. They’re hard to spot, and they’re notoriously difficult to pull off, but they can be exceptionally beautiful when done right. They require more intensive care than typical tattoos, and maintaining the original white ink look is difficult. Even so, they come with special advantages. They’re aesthetically distinctive, setting your design apart from the rest, and their visible relief adds dimension to your tattoo. Here, we’ll weigh in on some of the pros and cons of white ink tattoos, taking together facts, personal accounts, and professional tattoo artists’ opinions.

The Pros of White Ink Tattoos

White ink tattoos flatter a wide range of skin tones. The ink is brighter against light skin, and it creates an appealing contrast on darker skin. In UV light, white ink tattoos glow, as the white is naturally very radiant. Sometimes, people will get colored tattoos with white borders. This adds an interesting ‘halo’ effect to the design. When white ink tattoos heal, the raised skin surrounding the design is easier to see. Usually, darker ink pigments conceal the raised skin. White pigment, however, is light enough to reveal it. This can create an interesting 3D effect, or a creative scar look, which some people want. Given their lower visibility, white ink tattoos are better for professional settings. Even if your community is conservative, the inconspicuousness of white ink can bring peace of mind.

Alien White Ink Tattoo Designs
Photo: i.ytimg.com

The Cons of White Ink Tattoos

But, for each of these positives, there’s a potential downside. Since white ink tattoos are less saturated, they’re harder to see. If you want your friends or a passersby to notice your new design, having a white ink tattoo isn’t ideal. As it heals, white ink tattoos fade quickly, and they will either revert to your natural skin color or turn into a light grey or yellow. Once this happens, it’s very difficult to re-establish the original white ink look. In fact, white ink tattoos often end up looking like a decorative scar.

“It’s not like doing a regular black ink tattoo. You have to insert the needle deeper than usual, and stretch the skin as much as you can, so that the ink sits perfectly.”

Stronger White Ink Tattoo Turning Green
Photo: Buzzfeed

So what do the professionals have to say about white ink tattoos? Gabino, a professional tattoo artist from Spain, believes white ink tattooing is a trying process: “It’s not like doing a regular black ink tattoo. You have to insert the needle deeper than usual, and stretch the skin as much as you can, so that the ink sits perfectly.”

Marcos, a professional tattoo artist from Sacramento, California, isn’t a big fan of white ink tattoos either. “It’s a losing battle for both the artist and the client. They’re becoming more and more popular these days, so naturally there are more requests for them. The first thing I tell my clients is that the tattoo will not stay. Even when the tattoo is freshly healed, it will not look white. You will barely be able to see it. Secondly, you can’t touch up white. If you try to touch it up, it will most likely turn a yellowish brown color once healed.” He goes on to say that he’s “educated [his] clients on these points…but they always end up dissatisfied with the healed result,” wanting it “to ‘pop’ more.”

Despite what some professionals say, there are still many people out there who get white ink tattoos and love them. Courtney, a student from Texas, got a white ink butterfly tattoo, done at Love & Hate in Lewisville. She tells us, “I love my tattoo so much! I was really nervous at first, but it’s only gotten better as my skin has darkened!”

Butterfly White Ink Tattoo

How to Get a White Ink Tattoo That Turns Out Well

So what steps can you take to get a white ink tattoo that turns out well? For the most part, getting a white ink tattoo that works out well all depends on your personal preferences. Do you like the look of scarified designs? Are you comfortable with a more discreet tattoo? If yes, then you shouldn’t be too concerned. But you can also ensure that you find an artist who has solid experience doing white ink tattoos. Usually, they’ll have a portfolio which you can look through, to see the end results of their work.

If you’re unsure about whether you’d like a white ink tattoo in the long run, you can always start out with small designs. And if you’re feeling a little too skeptical about it, but you still want a tattoo, you can always opt for the traditional pigments. Either way, white ink tattoos have their bonuses and drawbacks, and now that you’re familiar with both, you can make an informed decision!

If you know more interesting facts about white ink tattoos, let us know about them in the comment section below.

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