Cross-spectrum body modification artist Wayne Fredrickson of Zodiac Tattoo in Moreno Valley, CA — one of the few practitioners who’ve been featured here for tattoos (don’t miss that crazy link), piercing, and scarification — just posted a good example of how clean white tattoos often look, and how successfully they generally heal. It’s weird, even in these edumacaterd days, the urban myth persists that white ink tattoos are next-to-impossible to do, to keep from fading or changing color, or are even dangerous (someone emailed me just yesterday concerned because they’d been told that white ink is fundamentally toxic). In reality white ink is as non-toxic and inert as any modern tattoo pigment (that is, safe to tattoo with, but a carcinogen if you spend a decade snorting large quantities of the pure powder base), and appears to last better than most, resistant to fading and other discoloration. In addition, when you’re talking about white-only tattoos, I feel like there’s some trick-of-the-eye that makes them more “forgiving” — slight breaks and imperfections in the linework are less likely to be caught by the eye, which makes them ideal for work on the palm for example, a location where it can be difficult to get ink of any color to stay perfectly (something which the eye instantly picks up on in black ink).
In the example below, done on a palm (the location would have created more of a challenge than the choice of ink) you can see the tattoo progressing from fresh, to two weeks later, and finally to two months later. There’s no reason to believe that it will look nearly identical to that third shot two decades from now as well, although the lines may blur slightly due to the mechanics of skin. You may recall in November I actually posted a similar tattoo — click here to see a 13 year old white ink palm tattoo (that one is more yellow because of the pigmentation of the wearer’s skin, not because of its age). As usual, click the pic to zoom in.