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White Ink Tattoos: Are They Right For You?

Go BOLD. Stay subtle. Do a little bit of both with a white ink tattoo.

Still uncommon but growing in popularity, the white ink tattoo is an attractive option to many on the hunt for new ink. Collectors like these tattoos for their bold contrast against blackwork. Many newbies opt for white ink as a right of passage into the tattoo world. Others want a memento; a secret that hides in plain sight without calling much attention to itself. 

Whatever your reasons. There are many things to consider before getting a white ink tattoo. We’ll go through it all: from ink uses through to application and aftercare routines. Keep scrolling to learn more.

What is a White Ink Tattoo?

White ink tattoos are tattoos done in completely white ink, or a mixture of white and another pigment to enhance brightness. Depending on skin tone, they can come out quite bright upon first application. Though like all tattoos they fade over time; leaving a subtle marking on the skin. Depending on sun exposure, white ink looks almost transparent after a few years.

Since most tattoo artists are used to working with black ink, even simple white tattoos can be a challenge for a seasoned professional. For that reason, it’s important to work with the artist to settle on a design your both are happy with before sitting in the chair. If you’re trying to find an artist that works with this type of ink, pop into any of the parlours on our Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney lists and they should be able to introduce you to the best tattooist for the job. 

You should also factor in the artistic style of your tattoo idea. Some styles simply show up better in white than others.

Reasons to Get a White Ink Tattoo

There are various reasons why someone might consider getting this type of tattoo. We’ll go through them all to help you decide if a white ink tattoo is right for you.

First-Timers

Many first-timers lean towards white tattoos as a starter piece. Given these tattoos aren’t are permanent as black ones, they choose to go with white ink just to get a feel of the tattoo experience. 

Many put a lot of importance on getting the right tattoo, due to its permanence. Knowing that white ink will fade makes first-timers more comfortable with the tattoo process. If they don’t like the result they don’t have to worry about taking care of the piece. Eventually, it will fade and become unnoticeable to others.

To Contrast With Other Colours

Others may opt for white due to how well it interacts with other colours. White can be used as shading creating the illusion that a tattoo is popping out of the skin.  For tattoos with very intricate detailing, white can help to highlight elements that will become harder to distinguish as the tattoo ages. White ink brings a level of dimension that is difficult to replicate when only one colour is used by the tattoo artist.

Hiding in Plain Sight

For those who want a more subdued look, white ink blends right in with your natural skin tone. When healed, these kinds of tattoos can have a delicate fleshy appearance on lighter skin tones. On darker skin tone the effect is similar to a henna tattoo; as your skin adopts a slightly lighter or darker appearance in the tattooed area.

If you want to get something that is important to you, but not worth sharing with the world consider getting a white ink tattoo. This also may be a good option if traditional tattoos attract unwanted attention in your professional or personal life.

Not On Your Skin, A Part of It

Many want a piece that looks slightly more realistic than a black tattoo. Maybe they want to take an alternative approach to body branding. In these cases, white ink seems like an attractive, less painful option. 

Depending on the thickness of the tattoo, over extended periods of time white ink will adopt a clean scar-like appearance. Although all tattoos make the skin rise to some degree, this effect is really pronounced in the years after a white tattoo fades. If you want a look that appears like it’s a part of your skin and not lying on top of it, you should consider white ink.

UV Tattoo Enthusiasts

For those into UV tattoos, white ink makes you light up the night. Although not as reflective on its own, when mixed with UV ink, these tattoos become invisible light paths on your skin. Many who want a UV tattoo that is fully invisible during the day will opt for white ink.

Tattooing Techniques That Work Well With White Ink

The most skilled tattoo artists will make use of whatever is in their toolset. But at the end of the day, there are some techniques that bring out the most shine in white ink. When searching for an artist to do your tattoo, check their recent work to see if they have any experience in the following techniques.

Highlighting and Outlining

Outlining is a great way to make a dark tattoo pop out of your skin. Apply some white ink on the borders of your design to give your tatt more dimension.

Fine Line

With an experienced fine line tattoo artist, white ink can be a soft subtle touch to any skin type.

Stars and Astronomical References

Tattoos of stars, constellations or anything spacey are great with white ink. White ink complements the overall feel of these elements, as they are naturally bright in the real world. Combine with UV ink and you’ll light up the night!

Shading

For a piece with more realism, using white ink for shading can bring out natural features and simulate the sense of movement on the skin.

Proper Aftercare

So you found an artist, settled on a design, and hopped in the chair. Great! Before you leave the parlour, ensure that your tattooist has covered your tattoo with a healing ointment and a bandage. If the bandage is clear, we recommend covering the tattooed area with darker clothing. Your tattoo is extremely vulnerable to sun damage during this stage.

Remove the bandage after the period recommended by the tattoo studio. Continue to apply healing ointment as necessary, and keep your tattoo away from the sun at all times. Allow scabs to fall off on their own. Do not peel.

After your tattoo has fully healed continued care is necessary, especially in warmer months. Some even suggest limiting sun exposure for 6 months to 1 year. If you’re in a situation where that isn’t possible, there’s no need to worry. Apply sunscreen before heading out into the sun. Even on overcast days, sunscreen may be necessary. Where possible, continue to keep the tattoo of direct sunlight in the months following your tattoo session.

Things to Consider

White ink tattoos may not be right for you, or they may be exactly what you’ve been dreaming of getting. Either way, there are a few things to keep in mind before heading to the studio.

Everything Eventually Fades

Every tattoo fades—but unlike black ink—white ink won’t be around for your entire lifetime. If properly taken care of, you can expect your tattoo the gradually fade over a few years as it settles into its final colour. At this point, you can opt for a touch-up or keep the semi-transparent look. If not properly taken care of, you run the risk of the tattoo fading much faster.

The Larger the Piece, the Longer the Tattoo Time

For these types of tattoos, more ink is sometimes required to bring out the white colour. This usually isn’t an issue for small pieces. But if you are getting some larger work done, be prepared for a longer time in the chair. Also isn’t done by an experienced artist, excessive shading can leave unintended results. Bumpiness, uneven lines, and raised skin are some things to consider for larger pieces.

Ongoing Aftercare, and More Care After That

For all tattoos care, should be ongoing and followed up by touch-ups when necessary. White ink tattoos are as delicate as they look, so additional care isn’t required; it’s a necessity. Avoiding sun in the early stages, and applying sun sunscreen long after your tattoo has healed are all important steps to keeping your tattoo alive. Keep in mind that the tattoo will tan, just like your skin tans.

Finding a The Right Artist

Not all artists are up for a white ink challenge. Some avoid using altogether, even for the simplest of designs. Although most professionals are versatile with all ink colours, they prefer to not take the risk of creating something that does not meet the client’s expectations. For that reason, you may have to do a little digging through Instagram or studio websites to find the right artist. If you’re not sure where to look, just pop into any of the ones we recommend.

A Note on Skin Tone

One final thing to consider is your skin tone. White ink tattoos will fade to various shades of white depending on the colour of your own skin. Be sure to search images of white ink tattoos on various skin colours to get a better idea of how they will look on your skin.

Take Care of Your Work

Whether you choose to get a white ink tattoo, colour, or entirely black, taking care of your tattoo in the early phase is key to ensuring its longevity. Continued care around Sun and UV exposure will ensure your tattoo has a long life, without excessive touch-ups. 

Take care of your new piece with aftercare. Proper aftercare is essential with all tattoos and an absolute ongoing requirement for white ink tattoos. A proper routine will ensure your tatt stays fresher for longer. 

 For more tattoo tips visit the rest of our blog.
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