Everything You Need to Know About White Ink Tattoos

Red ink is being used more and more in tattooing both as an accent color as well as as the only color in the whole tattoo. 

However, it is common for people’s skin to react badly to red ink, so clients usually have a lot of questions about whether it’s safe or if they should worry about the higher risk of allergic reaction and fading.

As a tattoo artist, it’s important to be able to answer these questions. That’s why, in this article, we’ll cover: 

  • Whether red ink is safe to use
  • How common “red reaction” is
  • If red line tattoos fade faster
  • Design ideas for red ink tattoos

Why White Ink? 

White ink is becoming more and more common in tattooing because it can serve many purposes. There are tons of different ways to use white ink in tattooing including using the white out technique to cover up existing tattoos by using black ink (in a blackout sleeve) and then placing a white ink tattoo on top

White ink can also be used to create contrast in black or more colorful tattoos. For darker tattoos, a hint of white in certain areas can make the design pop out in ways it wouldn’t without the addition of white. 

Like red and blue, white is becoming popular as a standalone color both for small tattoos and bigger, all-white pieces for clients who want a softer appearance to their tattoos.

Tattooing With White Ink

white ink tattoo
white tattoo ink

Different skin types will react differently to white ink. White ink will create more contrast on darker skin than it will on light skin. When healed correctly, white ink tattoos will be almost invisible on lighter skin tones. 

However, white ink does fade, and can look “yellowish” over time because of the skin’s natural tone underneath. 

Understanding how the tattooing and healing processes are different both for the ink and for different types of skin is important because your clients rely on you to help them make the most informed decision they can.

  • Are White Ink Tattoos More Painful?

Raised skin is common during the healing process for white tattoos. However, it should not be a more painful tattoo process.

The reason many people feel that white ink is more painful is because it is often used to apply highlights at the end of the tattoo. In this case, white ink is being placed in an area that has already been tattooed usually after the client has endured hours of being tattooed. While it’s the same process, that tenderness might cause white ink to seem more painful.

White ink tattoos might also be considered more painful because of how many times the design must be tattooed. In order to completely saturate the intended area with ink, the artist will likely need to go over the white ink several times during multiple appointments with time to heal in between. This can make the healing process lengthier and more painful.
  • How Badly Do White Ink Tattoos Fade?
white ink tattoo
white ink tattoos
white ink tattoos over black tattoos

White ink tattoos fade more quickly than more colorful tattoos because the ink itself is much lighter and is already difficult to see on the skin. Direct sunlight should be avoided as much as possible with white ink tattoos. 

Though white ink tattoos can be really cool and striking, they may require more frequent touch up than other tattoos because of how quickly they fade. Some clients report that faded white ink tattoos can look like scars, which is appealing to some, while others may not like the look.

  • Healing a White Tattoo  
  • Understanding That White Tattoos Can “Fade to Yellow”

White ink might yellow slightly as it heals. It is translucent, so when the ink is no longer fresh, the skin tone will show through the white. (This can be seen in color tattoos as well, as bright colors tend to show up more intensely on lighter skin.)

  • Pat - Don’t Wipe - White Ink Tattoos

Clients should be very careful when cleaning their tattoo so that it does not take on any of the surrounding colors in the tattoo. While the tattoo is still healing, it’s considered an “open wound.” It should be cleaned with mild, unscented soap and patting it dry instead of wiping it should help keep the colors separate. When the tattoo is healed, this is no longer a concern.

  • Protect White Tattoos From Direct Sunlight

Sunscreen is important for keeping all tattoos safe, but it is especially necessary for white ink tattoos. Exposure to sunlight is the most common reason that tattoos fade more quickly than desired, and the sun will wash out white ink tattoos very fast. Keeping white ink tattoos covered with sunscreen or clothing should help keep them vibrant for longer.

When to Use White Ink 

ink for tattoo artists
ink with white pigment

White ink is best used as a highlight color, and a 7 round shader is recommended. Unless the whole tattoo is white, it’s a good idea to keep the white ink to smaller areas to avoid some of the trouble that artists often see with white ink. 

In small doses, white ink can make certain areas of the tattoo pop, but try not to rely too heavily on using white ink in areas where there is no color or a break in the design. In places where the tattoo design calls for nothing, it’s best to use skin breaks with no ink at all.


You can add a drop of Electric Blue to your white to give it a cooler and brighter tint.

Gallery: White Ink Tattoo Design Ideas

There are tons of different ways that white ink can be used in making really cool tattoos. White tattoo ink can look almost like a scar or it can be used to balance out black or other colors. 

White ink tattoos are a great way to show personal style because they can be done as a tiny, hidden tattoo or they can cover a bigger part of the body while maintaining a delicate touch.

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

popular tattoos in different tattoo styles

Understanding the challenges that come with using white tattoo ink is an important step in your journey, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straight-forward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need to build your skills and create incredible tattoos. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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