White Ink Tattoos on Dark Skin: Here’s What You Need to Know
Teeny tiny artwork is dominating the tattoo scene right now, and they’re especially perfect for those looking to get inked without drawing too much attention to their skin. These understated tattoos often appear in inconspicuous areas, such as behind the ears, on the wrist or on the sides of fingers. You’ll find them in standard black or dark ink, but many people are also opting for white ink tattoos these days. Below, we’re explaining everything you need to know about white ink tattoos. Whether your skin tone is light, medium or dark, you’ll want to read this before booking your white ink tattoo appointment.
What Are White Ink Tattoos?
The trend of understated tattoos doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. In fact, some would argue that it has taken on a new life of its own, thanks to the ever-so-popular white ink tattoos. Looks aside, white ink tattoos are not much different than black ink tattoos. “White ink tattoos are no different from regular tattoos in that they are both raised,” board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant Dr. Elizabeth Houshmand says. With white ink tattoos, the raised area of the skin — and scar-like appearance — is much more visible because the black ink can cover some of that up. “The body handles white ink tattoos as a wound,” Dr. Houshmand continues. “When the wound-healing process starts, scar tissue forms. Because white ink can look transparent, the work of the tattoo artist will really show up underneath.”
Can White Ink Tattoos Appear Brighter on Dark Skin Tones?
If your skin is light, white ink tattoos will likely not look noticeable to many. They're a good pick for anyone looking for a subtle tattoo. Keep in mind, however, that white ink tattoos have a tendency to fade quickly and can change colors over time, according to Dr. Houshmand. Depending on how your skin heals, your white ink tattoo may look like a prominent scar on your skin later on.
But what about darker skin tones? Dr. Houshmand says it’s not a definite yes. “Many individuals, particularly those with darker skin tones, cannot absorb enough of the white ink for it to appear brightly on their skin,” she says. She notes that for most skin types and tones, the white ink will eventually begin to fade into the skin. “But when white ink tattoos are performed on dark skin tones, they tend to fade completely after the healing process, which is why many tattoo artists will not recommend these to dark-skinned individuals.”
How Should You Care for White Ink Tattoos?
Dr. Houshmand warns that it’s not uncommon for people to experience a reaction to white tattoo ink. “This is much more common than a reaction to black tattoo ink,” says Dr. Houshmand, adding that dark skin can form keloids, which is an overgrowth of scar tissue that develops around a wound.
But if you’ve made up your mind and you’re set on getting a white ink tattoo, there are ways you can help reduce the risk of a negative reaction. “To avoid a keloid, the artist might need to adjust the way they work to suit your skin, by reducing the power and not going over the same area too frequently,” Dr. Houshmand says. Once your tattoo has healed, keep the area hydrated with a skin protectant, such as the CeraVe Healing Ointment or House 99 Bold Statement Tattoo Body Moisturizing Cream — and whatever you do don’t scratch at it.