We all dread it, but why? Is it just because it’s typically done at the end of a session so it’s already on a painful & sensitive area? Or is there more to it? What makes it appear to be more painful than other colours? Could it be a combination?

Let’s take a look! 👩‍🏫

The Pain Factor: White ink tattoos are often described as being more painful than tattoos done with other colours. Is this just a myth or a subjective experience – or are there scientific reasons to why white ink can be more painful?

The Pain Factor Behind White Tattoo Ink

The Science Behind the Pain:

  1. Pigment Size and Density:

    • White ink typically contains titanium dioxide, which is possible to be known for its larger pigment particles. These particles may need to be injected deeper into the skin, requiring more pressure from the tattoo needle. This is subjective though, every artist and every clients skin is different... So, this is not a scientifically conclusive. The verdict remains open on this.
    • The density of white ink may also mean that multiple passes with the needle are often necessary to ensure the ink is properly set, increasing the overall trauma to the skin. Again, subjective - as everyone is different. The tricky thing to note here as well: It is NOT a legal requirement for tattoo ink companies to disclose what the EXACT makeup of their ingredients is in most countries, including the United States. So, is it possible that some manufacturers have more titanium dioxide than others? Yes, absolutely. Can this affect the "density" of a particular brand of ink? Yes, absolutely. 

      Verdict: Unknown and unable to verify, therefore - it is possible. Subjective, yet possible.

  2. Skin Sensitivity:

    • The process of tattooing involves puncturing the skin, which naturally leads to some level of pain. However, when it comes to white ink, the repeated passes over an already tattooed area and the potential for deeper penetration can irritate the nerve endings more intensely.
    • Different areas of the body have varying levels of sensitivity. White ink tattoos on more sensitive areas can exacerbate the pain further. The above is true, for sure. As white ink is typically applied last, you will for sure feel that over the top of all the other ink that you've just had to endure prior. 

  3. Ink Consistency:

    • White ink can be thicker and more opaque compared to other inks. This thickness may require the tattoo artist to apply more pressure to work the ink into the skin, which can lead to more discomfort. Again, this is subjective - but possible.
    • The need for the ink to be more visible on different skin tones also means that the tattooing process can be longer and more intense. 

Aftercare Challenges: White ink tattoos can not only cause more pain during the tattooing process but also require meticulous aftercare due to the nature of how they are tattooed and how they heal compared to say black ink for example.

The healing process can be more complicated, with a higher risk of the ink fading or becoming discoloured compared to black ink. Proper aftercare is essential to maintain the integrity of the tattoo and reduce the risk of infection.

Obviously, here at Ink Nurse, we believe we have the best tattoo aftercare solutions for complete end-to-end tattoo care healing. Foam soap wash, second skin healing wraps and our number 1 selling aftercare remedy cream, all will help with your tattoo healing journey without any hiccups or dreaded itchy phases. White ink or not, we got you.

To recap on why white ink has this notoriously more painful aura than other ink colours, here is what we have learned: 

Pigment Size and Density:
Larger particles mean deeper injections and more pressure. While possible, there is no conclusive evidence that this is the case 'across the board' for white inks. Each brand and manufacturer produces different inks and due to regulatory laws, we don't actually know the exact makeup by the % of the ingredients. So, technically - it's possible, but we can not conclusively confirm this is the case for all white ink products.

Skin Sensitivity:
Repeated passes and deeper penetration irritate nerve endings more. While being the last ink to apply to a tattoo, you will generally feel it more, this is typically not disputed and safe to assume is true for most people. 

Ink Consistency:
Thicker ink requires more pressure, increasing discomfort. While true, impossible to confirm across the board, so this remains subjective and individual. Not all inks are the same consistency. 

Scientific Breakdown:
Titanium dioxide particles are larger and require more force to implant, causing increased inflammation and a stronger immune response. Biologically accurate, however subjective for this case - as not all inks are made the same and have the same consistency and makeup. 

Have you had an experience with white ink tattoos? Share your story with us by tagging us on Instagram @InkNurse or Facebook.

For all your tattoo aftercare needs, check out our range of products designed to keep your ink looking fresh and vibrant.


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