It has recently come to my attention that there is such a thing as white tattoos.
The person informing me of this hot, hot trend explained that they are very cool, very subtle, and an excellent idea.
I turned to My Friend the Internet for enlightenment.
To be clear, most of what I learned came from tattoo sites—websites that hawk the virtues and varieties of tattoos, body scarring, and other forms of body art. Almost all these sites show photos. So does Pinterest.
I researched. I looked at pictures. I have come to conclusions: White tats are not for everyone. OK, that’s one conclusion, but it’s a good one.
First, the general stuff that applies to all tattoos:
They are permanent. As in forever. As in the trendy tat in your mind’s eye might not be quite so trendy and fab in 10 years. (Have you seen the commercial [I think it’s for one of the cell phone companies] where they point out that some bad ideas can’t be easily undone and then show the matching Spring Break ’99 tattoos on their backs?)
Quality can vary. Tattoo results depend on your skin, the design, the quality of the ink, the skill of the artist, and whether the planets are aligned. If the commercials are to be believed, it also depends on whether the tattoo artists is eating a Milky Way bar.
Risk of infection. Tattoo needles puncture your skin. Even if your tattoo artist uses the cleanest of needles, it’s possible to get an infection after a tattoo.
Professionalism. Not all employers are accepting of visible tattoos. ‘Nuff said.
White is an unpredictable color. You wouldn’t think that, since it’s white. How hard can white be? But it is. Read on.
White tattoos look like raised scars. Which is great if you’re going for a raised scar look. Not so much if you want a flat tattoo.
White ink fades faster than dark ink. When the ink fades, the skin generally looks somewhat discolored and bruised. Which is kind of the opposite of permanent. And it is almost impossible (at this point anyway) to refresh a white tattoo.
White ink can change color. Sometimes they just turn yellow-ish especially when exposed to a lot of sunlight or if the tattoo-ee’s skin isn’t healthy enough (or just because). They can also turn yellow if the ink starts breaking down. Sometimes dark ink inadvertently gets in the white tattoo and you’re left with a stained tattoo. Or just the stain if the white fades.
White tattoos often end up looking like mosquito bites or a skin rash. Probably not the original intention, but what do I know.
The ink used in white tattoos is made of a liquid carrier and pigment which probably contains “lead carbonate, rutile, and titanium dioxide”. And you’re putting this in your body? To be fair, black tattoo ink has heavy metal in it too. That doesn’t make it better.
Only a very skilled and experienced tattoo artist can deliver a really well done white ink tat.
Think before you ink.