Why Does White Ink Hurt More? Understanding the Pain of Tattooing

Are you planning to get a tattoo or thinking about adding another one to your collection? If you are, then you might have heard people say that white ink hurts more than other colors. But why does white ink hurt more and is it really true?

Join us to explore the reasons behind the pain of tattooing and specifically dig into why white ink may cause more discomfort. We’ll also discuss ways to mitigate pain during the tattooing process.

The Science Behind Tattoo Pain

Before we dive into why white ink may hurt more, let’s first understand why tattoos in general can be painful.

Tattooing involves depositing ink into the dermis, which is the second layer of skin. This layer contains many nerve endings, making it sensitive to pain. When a needle punctures the skin repeatedly to deposit ink, it triggers these nerve endings and causes a sensation of pain.

The intensity of pain varies from person to person, and it depends on factors such as the location of the tattoo, the size of the needle, the artist’s technique, and the client’s pain tolerance.

Why Does White Ink Hurt More?

There are several reasons why white ink may cause more pain than other colors:

White Ink Contains More Pigment

White ink is made up of titanium dioxide, which is a dense pigment. To make it opaque enough to stand out on the skin, tattoo artists usually need to pack more pigment into the needle. This means that each needle puncture deposits more pigment into the skin, which can be more painful than thinner lines with less pigment.

White Ink is Harder to See

White ink is difficult to work with because it can easily blend with the natural color of the skin and lose its visibility. To compensate for this, tattoo artists often need to go over the same area multiple times to ensure that the ink is evenly distributed. This means more needle punctures, which can cause more pain.

White Ink Requires More Skill

White ink tattooing requires a high level of skill and expertise from the artist. This is because it’s hard to achieve the desired effect without overworking the skin. An inexperienced artist may need to go over an area more times than necessary to get the desired opacity, causing more pain to the client.

Tips for Minimizing Tattoo Pain

While some degree of pain is inevitable during tattooing, there are several ways to minimize it:

  • Choose a less sensitive area of the body for your tattoo.
  • Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest before your appointment.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine before your appointment, as they can increase sensitivity to pain.
  • Take breaks if you need to, and communicate with your artist if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
  • Consider using numbing cream or other topical anesthetics to reduce pain.

Things To Consider Before You Get A White Tattoo

As enticing as white tattoos may seem, they do have a few downsides. Keep these factors in mind before you consider white ink:

  • Most artists strongly discourage all-white tattoos, as the finished result is often disappointing.
  • As with any tattoo, white ink tattoos require an experienced and professional tattoo artist. Ensure that you book with an artist who specializes in white tattoos.
  • Request samples of the artist’s previous work and make sure they use high-quality, thick white ink.
  • People with paler skin tones are advised against white tattoos, as the finished design can end up looking like scar tissue. 
  • A white tattoo can be prone to blurring because it lacks an outline to hold the color in place.
  • The white pigment tends to fade rapidly and may turn yellow over time.
  • To prevent further fading, place the tattoo on an area of the body that isn’t exposed to the sun.
  • White tattoos require more attention and care during the healing process.


When it comes to white ink specifically, the density of the pigment, the difficulty in seeing it, and the skill required to apply it can all contribute to increased pain during the tattooing process. But with a skilled artist and good pain management techniques, you can still achieve a beautiful white ink tattoo without unbearable pain.

So next time someone tells you that white ink hurts more than other colors, you’ll know why!