Home » White Over Black: Tattooing Techniques And Considerations

White Over Black: Tattooing Techniques And Considerations

White over black tattoos are the hottest new trends in tattooing. People with darker skin tones often have issues when it comes to choosing a tattoo design that will pop against their skin. The white over-black tattoos seem to be the perfect solution to the problem.

Tattoos can have color, and yet, the most basic form of tattoo is made with black ink. A small and minimalist tattoo only stands against dark skin tones if the design is large and bold.

On the other hand, you may want to erase a tattoo for personal reasons. However, erasing a tattoo can be challenging. While you may lighten it considerably, you might not get a clean slate like the first time. Some residual ink is sure to stay behind, making your new tattoo appear unclean as it is bound to look superimposed.

However, the white-over-black tattooing technique can provide a wonderful solution to the problem as it will completely wipe out any traces of ink from the earlier tattoo. The tattoo artist will create a new black canvas, and then the new tattoo will be etched over white ink.

Is White Over Black Tattoo Different Than A Regular Tattoo?

Is White Over Black Tattoo Different Than A Regular Tattoo?
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While you can recreate any design in white over black, some nuances make this tattoo different from a regular black-and-white one.

The difference is mostly in the white ink used for this kind of tattoo and the outcome of the design.

The first difference is that the white pigment used in this tattoo is of much higher quality and intensity than the regular white ink used in conventional tattoos, mostly used for highlights.

The white ink used in white over black tattoos is far more intense to stand out, even against pale skin. Moreover, since light colors tend to fade faster as one age or if the tattoo is exposed to sunlight, this white ink can withstand these detriments much more than regular white ink.

The white ink is thicker and lasts longer than regular white ink. The white ink also stands out because it will glow, giving off a shimmering appearance under UV lights.

On the other hand, there is also a significant difference in how the final tattoo looks. Compared to a bold and black design on pale skin, the same design looks far edgier and almost gothic if done in white ink over darker skin or black background.

It has a pale and ghostly appearance, which has its charge, although it may not stand out. Rather, it looks more mysterious for its subtlety, and you can go for it if you want to create such an aura. White ink on pale skin will make the design very subtle, which is good for those who cannot have bold body artwork on display due to their work rules.

Can You Get A White Over Black Tattoo From Any Tattoo Artist?

Can You Get A White Over Black Tattoo From Any Tattoo Artist

Although any design can be created as a white-over-black tattoo, not every tattoo artist can do it for you. It’s because of the following reasons.

Many tattoo artists are comfortable working with black ink over pale skin. That is just because it is easier to see the pattern, and the accuracy of the tattoo is guaranteed.

When using black ink over dark skin tones, it won’t be easy to distinguish between the pattern and the skin, and the design might be inaccurate. It prevents many tattoo artists from doing regular black tattoos on dark skin. However, an expert will never have this problem.

In comparison, white ink is easier to work with on dark skin simply because the outlines are more noticeable. Since this ink is thicker and has a more intense white pigment, a lower quantity of ink is required for the design than black ink; on the other hand, black ink would need to be used in greater quantity while working on dark skin to make the motif stand out.

Hence, you need to speak to your tattoo artist about the cost and time of getting a white over the black tattoo and whether they will do it for you.

Preparing For White Over Black Tattoo If You Have Pale Skin

Preparing For White Over Black Tattoo If You Have Pale Skin

A white tattoo may not stand out like other tattoos if you have pale skin. However, it creates a beautiful pattern resembling a halo, and if that is the kind of effect you want, you can opt for white ink over pale skin.

However, if you want a tattoo that pops, you must first prepare your pale skin by painting it in black. Once that is achieved, the actual design is created on a black background with white ink. And this is where things get difficult.

It would be best to tattoo the entire skin patch in black ink to get a black background. You can use white ink over black ink only when the latter dries up. Hence, it would be best to talk to your tattoo artist about how long it will take for your black ink to ingest into the skin. Will it be a simultaneous process?

Or will the tattoo artist start with your white ink tattoo only after the wounds from the black ink preparation have completely healed?

All of this also makes getting a white tattoo a lengthy and elaborate process.

What Technique Is Applied For White Over Black Tattoos?

The technique for a white over-black tattoo is not very different from a regular tattoo. Still, you must consult your tattoo artist about whether they can do it. Here is why.

1. Stencil Or Free-hand

Stencil Or Free-hand
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Unlike black ink, you have to understand that any mix-up with any other pigment will dull the brightness of the white ink tattoo. Suppose the tattoo artist uses a free-hand technique. In that case, it usually does not pose a problem if the tattoo gun is thoroughly cleaned. 

However, suppose the tattoo artist uses a stencil. It will not have the stark white appearance and will not stand out as much as you wanted. In that case, the residue of any previously used ink may seep in and dull your white tattoo. 

As a result, it will not create the desired impact. After spending so much money, you don’t want a dirty white scar on your skin. Hence, talking to your tattoo artist about the result you expect from a white-over-black tattoo is essential.

2. Creating Black Background

Creating Black Background

Creating the black background for the white tattoo on top is time-consuming. You should be able to withstand the pain while all that black is pushed into the body to create a black canvas.

If you need clarification, you can get a small black-over-white tattoo to familiarize yourself with the process, then try a more elaborate tattoo around it.

This way, you will be fine with giving up midway through an unfinished tattoo if you become dissatisfied with the process.

3. Several Passes

Several Passes
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Since everyone’s body is different, one has to remember that the way your body absorbs white ink might not be the same as everyone else’s. In some cases, the tattoo has to pass the same area multiple times for the white ink to appear clear and white on a dark background- whether it is your naturally dark skin or your black ink background.

It means the tattoo gun could pass over the same area multiple times, and you must be mindful of your pain threshold. Some people with dark skin cannot absorb as much of the white ink required for a bright white tattoo, so experimenting with a small tattoo at first is a good idea.

Things to Consider While Getting a White Over Black Tattoo

It would be best to consider a few things while getting a white-over-black tattoo to make the process easy and relaxed.

1. Greater Wound

Greater Wound

If you must prepare your skin with black ink first, creating a seamless patch of the black surface will be a pretty intense process. Hence, the needle wounds will be much greater than simply getting a tattoo design.

Preparing yourself for the pain would be best so that the process does not overwhelm you. You can ask your tattoo artist if you can do it in multiple sessions, although that might cost you more.

2. Skin Reactions

Skin Reactions
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Due to the nature of the dye, and the fact that white ink is thicker in consistency than regular black tattoo ink so that it gets absorbed into the skin better, it is common to have some reaction to the white ink.

The area might swell and itch more, compared to what may happen if you get a black ink tattoo. Avoid over-the-counter ointment over the area and see a doctor if the problem persists. Ask your tattoo artist what you can do if you have a severe reaction.

3. Placement


The placement of a white over black tattoo is crucial. Since the white ink is paler, you need a place where the tattoo would be noticeable. A black or colored tattoo always draws some attention, no matter how small, unless it is covered by clothing. 

However, a white tattoo may not be easy unless you have dark skin or have prepped the background with black ink beforehand. In that case, your white-over-black tattoo will create a stunning impact.

4. Aging

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Light ink tends to fade faster than black ink, so your white ink will also break down eventually. The acids in the body will break down the pigments over time, and sun exposure will also fade the tattoo for years.

As you lose collagen with aging, the skin will also shrink, affecting the tattoo. Consider these aspects before getting a white-over-black tattoo.


You do have to do a lot of research and consider quite a few things before getting a white-over-black tattoo. Speak to an experienced tattoo artist who can guide you through all the intricacies of getting such a tattoo.

It would be best to prepare yourself mentally about how your body will look after getting inked. If you have prepared well, this is one of the most beautiful body arts you can get and would be worth the investment.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!