Fingers, feet, lettering and white tattoos

We’ve all seen the pictures on the internet of amazing fingers, feet, lettering and white tattoos.  They look great in the pictures but there’s something we should all take note of.  They are fresh or often, less than a year old.

We want to make sure you’re fully informed for this important life decision.  Our goal is for you to get the best tattoo possible and for you to love it forever.  Tattoos change over time.  The pigment slightly spreads out through the skin and some skin doesn’t hold ink well.  
We can’t guarantee white tattoos or tattoos on hands or feet (meaning that any touch ups will be full price) because we can’t change or control how they will heal.  
 

 
Feet and Hands:handtattoos
In this picture you can see a good example of how much pigment can fall out in a fairly new hand and finger tattoo.  The lettering was done solid black and has already been touched up.  You can clearly see that the letters are not solid black now after several sessions and it looks like an older tattoo.  
 
  •  The skin on the fingers, especially on the sides of the fingers, is calloused and never heals well.  The pigment usually falls out during the healing process so it’s gone or spotty within two to four weeks.  
  • It’s very difficult to heal hand and foot tattoos since it’s impossible to not use your hands for three weeks and a tattoo is an open wound.  This opens it up to infection and also general rubbing.  When the tattoo is healing it needs the protective scabs to stay on as long as possible.  If they come off before they’re ready it will pull the pigment out and it’s going to happen a lot with hand tattoos.  
  • Just the simple need to wash our hands often will soak scabs and make them come off too soon but not washing can lead to infection.  

whitetattooWhite Tattoos:

There is a healed white arrow tattooed next to the gray arrow in this picture.  You can barely see it and where you can see it it looks brownish because of the color of her skin.

  • If the tattoo is done in white it could be completely gone by the time it heals as white doesn’t show up well on any body part.  The pigment that we use is inserted into the dermis which is below the epidermis or the first “layer” of skin.  It sits in this layer and you can see it because the skin of the first layer is transparent.  
  • Our skin color is in that first layer too and even if a person doesn’t have much color to their skin there will still be color on top of the white.  This can lead to the white turning greenish, brownish or yellowish over time.  It usually takes a few months for the undertones to show up but they pretty much always do.  
Lettering:badlettering
In this picture you can see how lettering can spread over time. This is a good example as there are a couple factors that lead to the lettering being completely unreadable.  The lettering was done too small and it was done by an inexperienced artist.  It’s now just blobs of black pigment where it used to read “He died for me”.  This could have been avoided if it was done larger and my someone with more experience.   
  • Depending on the font, lettering needs to be done at least 1/2 inch tall to stand up to the pigment spreading over time.  If the letters are too close together then they end up looking like blobs and it’s unreadable.
  • Some fonts that have more details will need to be done even larger than 1/2 inch to stand the test of time.
  • Lettering done in white is so thin and light that it’s almost always unreadable after a few months.
Part of our job is informing people about how tattoos will age and there are some things that we just won’t do because we know what it will look like in two months, two years and twenty years from now.  We know it from our experience fixing up, covering up old tattoos and seeing tattoos that we did ourselves from many years ago again.  The techniques and tools have improved but the basic makeup of a tattoo is the same.  
If we see you in twenty years we want to be as proud as you are of the tattoo that we did today.  Following the guidelines will help make this possible.  It’s worth it!   
 
*Full disclosure:  The reason I know what the tattoo of Jesus used to say is because I did that tattoo when I was first starting out fifteen years ago.  That’s before I knew proper technique and how large lettering needs to be to turn out well.   
 
Thanks for reading and as always, let us know if you have any questions by emailing info@damasktattoo.com
-Christy Brooker, Owner and artist here at Damask Tattoo.