There are tons of ways to make a tattoo unique, and pigment color is no exception. You may think of tattoos as being primarily black or multi-colored, but white ink tattoos add a certain level of intricacy and airiness to any tattoo. When using a lighter colored pigment, you’re almost hiding your design in plain sight, meaning that you may feel more inclined to get that large or super visible tattoo because it won’t be as flashy. That’s not to say that white ink tattoos don’t make an impact; on the contrary, these designs will stand out because of how aesthetically specific they are in a sea of dark-ink tattoos. Plus, they glow under ultraviolet (UV) light—talk about making a statement.
Aside from how much of an impact a white ink tattoo will make, there are many different design options for how to showcase the uncommon pigment color. Outlining a colored or blackwork design in white will make it pop and give it a sort of halo effect, whereas filling in a darkly-outlined design in white makes the outlines pop against such a bright background. Considering how light white ink is, it's much easier to see how raised a tattoo is, which can be a perk if you like a more dimensional, detailed look.
Just like any tattoo, white ink tattoos require an experienced and professional tattoo artist. White ink will appear differently on different skin types—brighter on darker skin and much more subtle on pale skin—and white ink is actually thicker than traditional black or colored ink, so make sure the artist you choose is also familiar with how to properly apply the ink in general and on your specific skin color.
White ink also requires more attention and consideration when healing to ensure they heal properly. Because artists go over white ink tattoos more than other inks, the wound may feel more intense or painful during aftercare, so make sure you’re being gentle. White ink tattoos may also fade in the sunlight, so it’s doubly (if not more) important to wear sunscreen when going outside (both for new and healed tattoos) and to avoid direct sunlight during the aftercare process. If you’re nervous about your white tattoo fading, talk to your tattoo artist—they’ll have the best and most specific advice on how to keep it fresh.
If white tattoos have piqued your interest, or if you’re considering a white ink design but don’t know what, let these 10 tattoos be your inspiration.
White Ink Heart Tattoo
A small heart tattoo is a symbol of love, and a white ink design elevates the feeling. Using a lighter ink makes the heart feel lighter and more hidden, seemingly making it a more intimate design. Plus, the curves of the design would feel heavier if done in black ink—the white color allows it to feel more seamless.
Visible White Ink Tattoo
If you’ve always wanted a tattoo in a highly-visible area but didn’t want the stark contrast of blackwork or bright color, getting a large white ink design may be the option you’re looking for! Putting any design in white will make it feel dainty, no matter how big or detailed it may be.
White Ink Finger Tattoo
Getting a finger tattoo in white allows you to add as much detail as you want to the design without it feeling overwhelming. Since fingers don’t allow for your tattoo to take up a ton of space, white ink allows for you to make sure you get every little thing you want in the design.
White Ink Sparkle Tattoo
White is also the go-to color to express light (as in dark and light), so why not go the extra mile and get a design that’s a bit more experimental? This design consists of sparkles that use the white ink to insinuate they’re giving off their own light.
White Ink Constellation Tattoo
Constellation tattoos are a common design choice because of just how customizable they are and how personal they can be. Customizing a constellation with white ink, for example, gives the design a more realistic, star-like feel, connecting the tattoo back to its reference.
"Moving" White Ink Tattoo
When you pick a tattoo design that relies heavily on the concept of movement, white ink will help it feel more lightweight and as though it may actually be moving. This jellyfish feels as though it’s floating on the arm, and the white ink makes it feel as though it may swim away.
Outline-Only White Ink Tattoo
White ink automatically makes a tattoo feel more delicate, so why not make an intimate design feel airy? This tattoo utilizes just an outline to create a minimal and barely-there feel. Plus, the design feels almost hidden due to its optical illusion nature, so the white ink will make it feel that much more of a tattoo just for you.
White Ink Moon Tattoo
Crescent moon tattoos are known for their vast array of personal meanings, and white ink will only make it feel more unique to you. Getting a white ink moon design also gives it the feeling that the moon is shining and giving off its own light.
Geometric White Ink Tattoo
Simple geometric designs gain a new level of minimalism when done in white ink. Rather than making a geometric design lose its “edge” (sometimes literally!), the white ink actually makes it feel more striking and impactful—especially in a hidden spot like the back of the neck.
White Ink Floral Tattoo
A simple floral sprig is an innately gorgeous and minimal tattoo design, and getting it done in white ink only makes it feel more delicate! Add a touch of femininity with the ink color, as well as allowing for more detailing, like the lines on the leaves.