What is White Ink Oxidization?

If you’re familiar with laser tattoo removal at all, you have likely heard that some colors of ink are easier to remove than others. Many times, red or black inks are mistakenly rumored to be difficult to remove. But have you heard that white ink can sometimes be tricky? On its face, white ink sounds like it’d be the easiest to remove since it is the lightest of all ink colors. Surprisingly, white is one ink color that responds to laser treatments less predictably than all the others. This doesn’t mean it can’t be removed, but it does mean your technician will need to treat the white inked sections of your tattoo a bit differently. 

Why is white ink tricky to treat with a laser?
The reason white ink can be considered a bit of a wildcard is because of its chemical components. If iron oxide and/or titanium are present, the ink can darken when exposed to light. This is called ink oxidization or paradoxical darkening. If you’re getting your tattoo removed and not expecting your white ink to darken, this can be a jarring development. Fortunately, our highly trained technicians know to look out for this and can let their clients know beforehand. It also generally does not pose any issues during the tattoo removal process. 

Does all white ink oxidize? No, only inks mixed with iron oxide and/or titanium. Since most people don’t know what the ingredients were in their tattoo’s inks, it can be hard to guess beforehand how the ink will respond. 

What about colored ink that is mixed with white ink?
Pastels, gradients, and other visual effects are achieved by using white as a lightener, just as one would to lighten dark paints. So, if iron oxide and/or titanium are present in the white inks used, the ink mixed with it may turn a darker color when treated with the laser. 

So, can oxidized ink still be removed?
Yes! Just because white ink (or colors mixed with white) has oxidized doesn’t mean it’s untreatable. Darkened/oxidized ink is then treated by a laser technician just like any other color.  Because the white ink has been treated once, then the subsequent darkened ink is treated, this can translate into one or two more treatments being necessary, but that is not always the case.

With all laser tattoo removal treatments, top-notch technology and trained laser technicians are just part of the equation. Time and adherence to aftercare instructions are also necessary. In the instance that your tattoo’s white ink oxidizes, patience should be heeded as well. 

At Eraser Clinic we are the tattoo removal experts. We offer free consultations and will happily answer any questions you may have about laser tattoo removal. So book your Free Consultation with us today!