While once a rarity, white ink tattoos have been enjoying a slightly bigger share of the spotlight as of late, making a resurgence as an increasingly popular option among those in and around Toronto, Markham, Mississauga, Kitsilano and Vancouver.
When done correctly, white ink tattoos can be absolutely breathtaking. They create an aesthetic that is completely unique and separate from traditional black ink or full-colour tattoos. The end result can be subtle and intricately beautiful.
However, white ink tattoos are notoriously difficult to achieve and require much more care than tattoos done in darker colours. Because of this, it’s important to understand how white ink tattoos work and how to properly care for them before deciding to go white with your next piece of art.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide covering the most common questions and laid out the pros and cons of white ink tattoos so you can easily decide for yourself if you’re ready to add one of these unique pieces to your collection.
What are white ink tattoos?
Unlike traditional tattoos which are usually done with a black outline and filled in with multiple colours or gradients of black for shading, white ink tattoos are done entirely in white. This creates a much more delicate overall look.
Due to the fact that white ink is so much more subtle than coloured inks, white ink tattoos tend to work best with line work rather than shading, though there are instances of shaded white tattoos.
White ink tattoos are notoriously difficult to apply correctly and require an extremely experienced artist who has practised in this particular medium. This is due to several factors such as the fact that it is much harder to see the white ink when applying it to the skin unless you have a well-trained eye.
Are white ink tattoos always raised?
If you’ve taken a close look at many white ink tattoos, you may have noticed that the skin always looks slightly raised. The fact is, most tattoos are usually slightly raised. This is due to the fact that tattoos create a thin layer of scar tissue that appears more pronounced on some people than it does on others.
While white ink tattoos are not usually any more raised than other colours, it’s easier to see the raised skin in a white ink tattoo. This is especially noticeable on white tattoos which have faded, leaving just the scar tissue behind in the shape on the initial tattoo.
Some people enjoy the raised look of white tattoos, while others consider it a con of white ink in general.
How quickly do white ink tattoos fade?
One of the biggest downsides to white ink tattoos is the fact that they tend to be some of the quickest to experience fading. This is due to the fact that lighter pigments, in general, tend to fade quicker and white is just about the lightest available.
That being said, there are measures you can take to help your white tattoo last longer.
Your first line of defence is picking an experienced tattoo artist to apply the tattoo in the first place. After this, being extra diligent with your aftercare routine during the healing process will also play an important role in your tattoo’s longevity.
Once your tattoo is healed, taking good care of your skin is your next line of defence. Be sure to keep your skin well moisturized and always protect your tattoos from sunlight by either covering them or applying sunblock. The sun will fade just about any tattoo quicker than anything else!
What role does skin tone play in white ink tattoos?
Skin tone plays a part in just about any tattoo. After all, your skin is the initial canvas for the tattoo, providing the backdrop for the entire piece. But nowhere is this more apparent than with white ink tattoos.
Extremely pale skin may be more difficult for white ink tattoos, though not impossible if done by the right artist. However, if you’re incredibly pale, you will need to be extra diligent when protecting your tattoo from sun damage as pale skin tends to sunburn more easily.
Darker skin tones, on the other hand, work beautifully with white ink tattoos. This is because darker skin tones provide more contrast, making the overall effects more dramatic.
People with greatly varied skin tones, such as those with lots of freckles, may not be the best candidates for white pigment. This is because white ink tattoos work best with a solid colour canvas behind them in order to stand out. If you’re worried your skin tone may not lend itself well to white ink tattoos, consult with your tattoo artist.
Do white tattoos glow in the dark?
It’s a common misconception that all white ink tattoos glow in the dark or under the black light. White ink on its own will not show up under black light.
In order for your tattoo to glow under UV light, UV ink needs to be added to the white ink. This can create quite a dramatic effect, however, little research has actually been done on UV ink for tattoo art. Because of this, there is a higher risk you may have a reaction to UV ink. Those with very sensitive skin should be extra wary.
To white ink or not to white ink? That is the question.
Overall, there are many potential downsides to white ink tattoos but they can be absolutely stunning when done correctly. If you’ve decided a white ink tattoo is for you, the two most important things you must remember are to carefully select your tattoo artist and be willing to put in the work to properly care for your tattoo.
Unfortunately with Chronic Ink’s motto and how we guarantee our work, white ink tattoo’s are not a tattoo style that our artists do. Our artists and staff will be able to answer any additional questions regarding white ink tattoos!
Tattoo Studio Locations
378 Yonge Street,
252 Eglinton Ave East,
7381 Kennedy Road,
100 City Centre Dr.,
1804 W 4th Ave,
Vancouver, British Columbia
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