What Is a White Tattoo, and Should I Get One?

After a lifetime of consideration, today is the day that you’re finally making a tattoo appointment at Skin Factory Tatoo! You’ve got a massive design in mind, and you know exactly where you want it – somewhere everyone will be able to see it. You are ready for a lifetime of bold self-expression featuring the most incredible artwork!

But wait. Before you commit to a whole lifetime, have you considered a white tattoo?

After all, what about the dress code at work? What about that period drama you were planning to audition for at the community theatre? And, now that you think about it, that full-color back piece you’ve been dreaming about seems like it might take a really long time.

White ink tattoos are the compromise between going big and going home. They allow you to cover your skin with large, intricate, ultraviolet reactive artwork that still allows room for delicate subtlety.

If you’re curious about whether a white ink tattoo might be right for you, keep reading to learn how to make a striking but subtle statement by trying this unique body art trend!

What Are White Ink Tattoos?

If you have investigated more traditional tattoos, you’ve probably come across a few options. These will range from full-color pieces to black and white pieces to simple black contour art. While white ink can incorporated into any of these traditional styles, a white tattoo is something unique.

White tattoos aren’t simply what’s left behind when you outline negative space. Your artist might create the outline of your tattoo using white pigment, which will leave behind a subtle, dimensional image. Designs can range from the most understated contour designs to filled-in icons.

On darker skin, white ink creates a striking visual contrast that will draw the eye. On lighter skin, your design might “camouflage,” creating a piece of personal art that’s easy to hide in plain sight. In both cases, the piece will be closer to “neutral” than other options and is unlikely to clash with clothing or other tattoos.

Your tattoo artist can use white ink in other ways, too. For example, you might choose art with a simple black contour and choose to fill it in with white.

A white halo around a traditional tattoo adds an additional visual and tactile dimension that can help it “pop.” White accents on a full-color tattoo can add stunning detail to a more complex piece.

The Benefits of White Ink Tattoos

If you’re interested in getting a white tattoo because you think they look cool, that’s reason enough! If you still need convincing, however, there are a few specific reasons why white tattoos might be the right choice for your next piece of body art.

They Are Ultraviolet Reactive

Think about what happens when you’re wearing a non-descript white t-shirt and you accidentally walk into a room that’s flooded with ultraviolet light. Suddenly, you’re glowing like a god, and everyone’s eye is immediately drawn to you!

The same thing happens to white ink tattoos. While some of these tattoos will be nearly invisible from a distance, they are all UV reactive. Under ultraviolet light, they glow faintly neon and come to life!

This is a great way for those with a rich nightlife to transition from day to night! You’ll be able to wear your tattoos proudly in a professional environment without attracting any negative attention. As soon as you’re under club lights, you’ll become a walking, glowing work of eye-catching art!

Until someone manages to invent a long-lasting glow-in-the-dark body pigment, white ink is the next best thing.

They Are Subtle

Even if you’ve always wanted a tattoo, you might not want to show it off to the entire world. Often, clients use tattoos for memorial purposes. Some pieces have special, secret meanings.

If you want a permanent piece of art but still want to keep it to yourself, white ink means you don’t need to hide it away.

On lighter skin, white ink might only be visible in certain light. Even if you have a large piece, they tend to blend in with your flesh tone. They look more like a shimmer on the surface of the skin and don’t attract visual attention in the same way as traditional tattoos.

Think about looking at a photograph with a camouflaging animal in it. At first, you might not even realize there’s an animal in the picture. Once it’s pointed out to you, however, your eye will go straight to the animal every time.

That’s the experience that many individuals with white ink tattoos have. They manage to hide their body art in plain sight, but let those they love in on their “secret.”

Normally, those looking to “hide” a tattoo might have it done in a spot that’s hidden under clothing or hard to see without a mirror. White ink opens up the option to have tattoos in more accessible locations.

If you want to honor someone you’ve lost, carry your childrens’ names with you, or etch a meaningful affirmation into your skin, consider white ink. A small, white ink tattoo on the wrist or finger makes for a gorgeous permanent reminder just for you.

They Are Unique

Some people get white ink tattoos for the subtlety – others like them because they’re looking for a way to stand out! If you’re already a body art fan with traditional tattoos, a white ink piece can add some interesting stylistic contrast to your extant collection.

White ink tattoos can be just as intricate as traditional tattoos and have a sense of lightness and airiness that more substantial tattoos lack. They also tend to have more tactile dimension than black ink tattoos, which is a great way to add some texture to your body art.

Some body art aficionados like using white ink in the negative space between their other pieces. They allow you to have one set of tattoos during the day, and a second set under blacklight.

Other Things to Consider

White tattoos are an excellent compromise for someone who is reticent about showing off body art, or who might be more interested in a subtle tribute. A white ink tattoo is still a commitment, however. There are some special considerations when it comes to the care and maintenance of these pieces that you should keep in mind before you commit.

They Tend to Fade

White ink was not initially created to be a stand-alone pigment. Tattoo artists use white to change the tone of their other pigments to allow for shading and variation in color.

As a result, white ink tattoos tend to fade faster than traditional tattoos. You may experience a transition period during which the white tones look somewhat uneven. Most tattoos end up settling into a light, subtle scar-like appearance, which many people love.

You can care for your white ink tattoo by avoiding direct sun exposure and wearing sunscreen daily. Even so, your tattoo probably won’t have the same level of brightness and contrast after a few months or years. It will always be there, but you might have to look harder to find it.

This is a feature for many people, who may not want to commit to a piece for their entire life. Knowing that their white ink tattoo will fade over time means they don’t have to worry about the effects of aging on the art. The tattoo will age along with them in a pleasant and unobtrusive way.

They Require More Healing Time

White ink is unique and requires special expertise to apply correctly. The ink itself is thicker than black or colored pigment, but it’s less pigmented than other inks overall. It’s supposed to be somewhat transparent by design.

The light color means your artist will have to apply the ink more aggressively than other inks to make sure that it takes. As a result, white tattoos may require more healing time than traditional tattoos. You may experience more pain and swelling with a white ink tattoo than you would with a more traditional tattoo, even if the piece is small.

After you receive your white tattoo, you’ll want to carefully heed the aftercare instructions given to you by your tattoo artist. As with all tattoos, there will be some scabbing and flaking. Great aftercare is key to keeping your white ink tattoos looking crisp and clean.

They Can Distort

The thickness of the white ink means that it takes a very talented tattoo artist to create thin, delicate designs. If you’re looking to get a tiny piece, or you want something specific like a mandala, white ink can be tricky. As these pieces heal, they occasionally distort as they settle into your skin.

A white ink tattoo will never look as crisp and clean as it does on the first day. They look different on different skin types, and it’s hard to predict how well they’ll take to your skin. For that reason, most artists suggest that you don’t get a white ink piece as a first tattoo.

White Tattoo Ideas

If you are willing to take a risk on a truly unique tattoo, a white ink piece is a great place to start. All you need is the perfect design to get you started!

Consider the special qualities of white ink when choosing a design. What would look incredible glowing under black light? What design would still look great once it has faded enough to become part of the fabric of your skin?

Many creative clients have already taken these things into consideration. Here are a few popular options that might inspire your meaningful white ink tattoo.

Look to the Stars

With their incredible blacklight glow, it’s no wonder that so many clients have used white ink to depict images from astronomy. One of the most popular images is constellations, with their clean lines and specificity.

Solid astronomical icons also make great white ink tattoos. They’re perfect for tiny half-moons, brilliant stars, or even little planet designs. These saturated images glow brighter under blacklight when compared to thinner contour designs.

Grow and Glow

Fans of the white ink tattoo are also overwhelmingly fans of floral designs. One of the most popular white ink images is a white daisy. Whether you choose a subtle daisy silhouette or choose to fill in the petals, these look gorgeous and maintain their integrity as they fade.

Those who are fond of the delicate nature of white ink tend to go for art featuring greenery. Botanical plants are a popular subject. A fern, palm leaf, or other tropical design can add a secret hint of summertime all year long.

Keep It Light

As discussed, white ink is a popular option for memorial tattoos. It allows you to permanently wear a reminder on your skin without broadcasting it to the world. Many of our white ink tattoos feature personal images with special meaning to the client.

Some of our most striking white tattoos have been images of feathers, ghostly animal silhouettes, and snowflakes. A light image deserves gentle treatment. White ink is a great medium for these airy subjects.

Schedule a Consult at Skin Factory Tattoo

If you’re looking for a more understated piece of body art that will never clash or go out of style, a white tattoo might be your perfect match. You’ll love the near camouflage effect of having artwork big or small hiding right in plain sight! Under ultraviolet light, your tattoo’s iridescent glow will elevate your self-expression to the next level.

Ready to glow for it? Skilled artists at Skin Factory Tattoo’s Maui and Vegas locations are ready to consult with you about their next great masterpiece. Reach out today to get the process started!

To learn more, contact us here.

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