White Ink Tattoos On Dark Skin: Everything You Need To Know
Teeny tiny tattoos are 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. These tattoos, as you can imagine, may be harder to spot on some skin tones—at least compared to black 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 (@houshmandmd) says. With white ink tattoos, the raised area—and scar-like appearance—is much more visible since 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. Since 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. However, keep in mind that white ink tattoos have a tendency to fade quickly and can change colors over time, according to Dr. Houshmand. What’s more, depending on how your skin heals, your white ink tattoo may look like an obvious scar on your skin.
But what if your skin is dark? Would white ink tattoos look bright and crisp? 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,” she says. What’s more, Dr. Houshmand says dark skin can form keloids, which is an overgrowth of scar tissue that develops around a wound. If you are prone to keloids you may want to avoid getting a tattoo,” she says.
But if you’ve made up your mind and you’re set on getting a white ink tattoo, there are ways you could 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 CeraVe Heal & Protect Balm, and whatever you do don’t scratch at it!
Editor’s note: While white ink tattoos are beautiful and delicate, not all tattoos are created equally or work well for everyone. It’s important to find a reputable tattoo artist that is licensed to perform skin tattoos. Look for sterile and clean work stations since unhygienic practices can cause unwanted reactions and potentially infections. Also, make sure you’re aware of the intense care involved in obtaining a white ink tattoo, as well as any additional risk factors not mentioned here.
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