We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a White Ink Tattoo?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
BeautyAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At BeautyAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A white ink tattoo is a tattoo which has been done entirely in white ink. Depending on the skill of the tattoo artist and the complexion of the customer, this type of tattoo can look quite distinctive. Most white ink tattoos look like scars, and they are sometimes mistaken for brandings; many people who get these tattoos get them for this very reason. If you are considering a white ink tattoo, you need to do your research very carefully, because it is easy for these tattoos to go very, very wrong.

When someone is tattooed, an artist uses a very sharp needle to push ink into the skin, below the layers of the skin which are routinely sloughed off. After a period of healing, during which the tattoo may look puffy or distorted, a pattern is left behind. In the case of a white ink tattoo, the pattern shows up as slightly lighter than the skin, looking like a scar or brand. When well cared for, the tattoo can last a lifetime, although it may need to be touched up.

Many tattoo artists who do these tattoos say that they look best on people with pale skin, and that it is a good idea to place them on an area of the body which is not frequently exposed to sunlight. Excessive sun exposure can fade the tattoo, causing it to disappear entirely or creating a strange tint of brown or yellow, depending on the ink used. For clients with darker skin, there may be some options; it is best to talk to a tattoo artist personally about your individual situation.

The advantage of a white ink tattoo is that it is extremely subtle, allowing people to conceal it much more easily than a black or colorwork tattoo. For people who are interested in the look of branding or cutting, this kind of tattoo can be used to create much more detail, and the healing tends to be more dependable. The disadvantage of such a tattoo is that it is prone to fading and discoloration, both of which can be disappointing.

When researching tattoo artists, it is a good idea to discuss the tattoo carefully, and to ask for a portfolio of previous work. If possible, find pictures of the artist's tattoos when they are fresh and in progressive stages of healing to see how they turn out. You should also be very careful about the stencil which the artist applies to your skin, as the inks in some stencils will transfer onto the needle, discoloring the resulting tattoo.

When a white ink tattoo is first applied, it looks puffy and distorted, much like a burn, and it may have a strange yellowish color due to lymph which floods to the site of the wound. If aftercare directions are followed, the tattoo should start to settle down within a few weeks. In the event you get this kind of tattoo and are dissatisfied, try to go back to the original artist to address the situation.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a BeautyAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon359117 — On Dec 15, 2013

I have had one on my shoulder for a few months now which was outlined in spots in a light lavender color to give it a little definition and 3-D appearance. I noticed that someone had a problem with a wrist tattoo, and I know that the tattoo artist I had said he wouldn't recommend one in any color because of how frequently it moves will make it fade faster.

By anon332555 — On Apr 29, 2013

I have a white feather on my wrist and at the beginning it looked white and great, but when it started healing, the color faded away. Now it looks like a scar and details were erased. I'm talking about a three or four week period, not years or months. That is my experience, and I don't recommend it

By anon280459 — On Jul 17, 2012

I have a white tattoo behind my ear. The artist I went to specializes in white ink. It cost more than getting a regular tattoo, mainly because she did four passes when normal tattoos only have one. Make sure the artist you go to has a great free hand as they cannot use a stencil since the ink can mix, making it a less pure white.

By anon220577 — On Oct 08, 2011

anon, I have two tattoos, one colored, one black and gray with a touch of white. It's unfair to say that the only people who think about getting a white tattoo are "uneducated" about the subject matter. It's a choice that should be thought carefully about, much like what comes out of your mouth.

By anon191015 — On Jun 27, 2011

I am thinking about getting a white ink tattoo, but I'm not sure how long it will last. When it fades or discolors, how long after you get the tattoo will it start to discolor?

By anon153634 — On Feb 17, 2011

I have a white tattoo. It is large and covers the sides of my body from my ankle to my pinky finger. My artist was reluctant at first but I wasn't that worried about it being "white white", or it fading which I think was his main concern. I think many artists are reluctant to use white ink as it can be problematic and the expectations of the customers are unrealistic.

He went over it twice which helped it take better, but also made it take a while to heal.

It's five years old now, it's creamy colored and does get sun exposure. I don't have a super pale complexion either. The design is simple, so regardless of it fading or not being pure white, it still stands out and I am still very happy with it.

By anon94480 — On Jul 08, 2010

white ink is not intended to be used as the only color in a tattoo. it is typically used as a highlight in a color or black and grey tattoo, and done so sparingly. after healing it won't look white if it's by itself (is not next to another color).

most tattoo artists roll their eyes when someone asks about "white ink tattoos", because it's basically a dumb idea. The person asking about it typically isn't educated enough about tattooing to know otherwise. it's very rare that the tattoo will turn out like the customer is expecting it to.

Sunlight exposure isn't the reason. The reason is simple: once it heals, another layer of skin grows over the white tattoo, giving it a tinted appearance if there is no other color beside it to trick the eye into thinking it's really white. it's a bad trend that most tattoo artists wish would just go away.

By littletot3 — On Jul 07, 2010

MonicaClaire, did your friend get the tattoo in an area that does not see a lot of sunlight? I have completed research on the internet and at tattoo parlors that advise that the best area is one that is usually covered. Otherwise, there is a good chance that the pigment is going to turn to a more yellow color because of exposure to sunlight.

Also, did your friend find any problems with the healing of the tattoo because of scarring? I think that these tattoos are very beautiful and unique, but seem to carry a good amount of risk as well.

By hrquir — On Jul 07, 2010

White ink tattoos are very unique looking, yet are a popular trend. Celebrities, such as Kate Moss and Lindsay Lohan, have adopted this new trend and their fans are following in their footsteps.

Though they are very trendy looking, white tattoos are very hard to perform and many tattoo artists will not do them. There is the risk of the tattoo artist struggling with performing the tattoo due to the ink changing color when using the stencil or bloodline method.

So when performing a white ink tattoo, most artists prefer to use freehand but struggle with having the color show up correctly and being able to see where they are injecting the pigment.

By MonicaClaire — On Jul 07, 2010

@GeordiKin, The white ink tattoos look great! My friend has one, and I think it is less noticeable than her color tattoos.

She has had to have her white ink tattoo touched up more than her others though.

I haven’t seen as many of them either, I think they are a bit more unique.

These can be more risky though. It is harder for the artist since freehand is the best method and the ink is so hard to see.

The healing process can also go wrong, leaving them raised or yellow.

By GeordiKin — On Mar 19, 2009

Interesting article, I had never heard of or seen a white ink tattoo, however now I am very curious. I will have to ask my ink master about this, as I have been searching for a subject for my next piece and this could possibly be the type of tattoo I get. Now I need to continue to look for a suitable subject.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
BeautyAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

BeautyAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.