What You Should Know Before Getting A White Tattoo

Body modifications, especially tattoos, can be the ultimate form of self expression. And when most people think of body ink, they usually picture a black and grey or a multi-colored design that really sticks out against the skin. However, if you're going for something more subtle, delicate, and overall less noticeable, a white tattoo may be the best option for you. Not only do some white tattoos glow under ultraviolet light (per Byrdie), but they also often complement black and grey or colored tattoos perfectly by giving a contrasting "halo" effect. Nowadays, people are opting to get standalone tattoos that are purely white by themselves, as the trend has spiked in popularity in the 2010s, according to Bustle.

While these white tattoos may look beautiful in professional photographs, there are some things you need to consider before you head down to your local tattoo parlor for some fresh white ink. Here are some things you should know before getting a white tattoo.

Be particular about your white tattoo artist and design

The first thing to note about white ink tattoos is that not every tattoo artist is qualified to do one. According to Chronic Ink Tattoo in Canada, white ink tattoos are much more difficult to create than the average design, due to the fact that the light coloring is harder to see, especially to the untrained eye. The ink is also thicker, making it more difficult to achieve clean lines (via Bustle). So if you're determined to get one, choose your artist carefully, and make sure they have experience and a portfolio with white ink.

Not every design works well with white ink. BrightSide reports that less complicated designs work better for white ink due to their subtlety, and super intricate tattoos might not work well with white ink as they might look blotchy or distorted. And although most tattoos raise the skin slightly because of scar tissue, white ink is notorious for making the raised skin appear more pronounced than the average tattoo due to the fact that it's easier to see the skin.

Skin tone and fading are a factor in white tattoos

It's also important to recognize how white ink looks different on various skin tones. The darker your skin is, the more dramatic the tattoo will look due to the contrast. If you're super pale, the white tattoo may be hardly visible. Also, if you're someone with a lot of freckles, white ink may not be the best option for you, as the artist needs a solid colored canvas to work with (via Chronic Ink Tattoo).

And perhaps the greatest downside of white ink tattoos is how quickly they fade, given their translucent nature and the fact that lighter pigments tend to fade faster. One way to slow down this process is to be diligent with the aftercare, keeping your tattoo well moisturized and being especially careful to protect it from the sun, which is the primary cause of fading. Bustle and Healthline report that once healed after around 60 days, the tattoo could turn become close to yellow, or even resemble a splotchy scar. "White ink tattoos look great the day of, because fresh ink always looks good," tattoo artist Jake Farris told Healthline. "But no one is posting photos of their 4- or 5-year-old white tattoos on Pinterest or Instagram."

However, if these things don't phase you, feel free to rock your white ink to your heart's desire. Just make sure to keep your expectations realistic.