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Tattoo Ink

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Tattoo Ink FAQ's

Is Tattoo Ink Vegan? Not all tattoo ink is vegan, so if you’re looking for vegan-friendly pigments, there are a few ingredients to stay away from. This includes bone char, gelatine from hooves, shellac from beetles, cod liver oil, beeswax, and glycerine derived from animal fat. It’s also important to make sure you’re buying a cruelty-free tattoo ink that hasn’t been tested on animals, as that eliminates some of the virtue of buying vegan! Brands such as World Famous, Kuro Sumi, Silverback Ink®, Fusion, Intenze, and Eternal all create vegan-friendly inks, making them the perfect option for any morally-conscious tattoo artist.
Is Black Tattoo Ink Vegan? Black tattoo ink can be vegan, so long as you buy from the right company! The pigments in black ink tend to be made from elements like carbon, iron oxide, nickel and logwood. However in some cases, they do contain bone black, which is finely ground carbonised animal bones. In terms of the carrier fluid, keep an eye out for animal glycerine - unfortunately, it will often appear in ingredients as just “glycerine”, which doesn’t give you an answer as to whether it’s vegan or not. Rather than checking through ingredients lists, you can usually just look for the vegan “V” logo which should be on all black tattoo inks that are vegan-friendly.
Is Vegan Tattoo Ink Better? There is a lot of debate over whether vegan tattoo ink is better than inks that contain animal products such as gelatine, glycerine and bone char. According to World Famous, vegan tattoo inks are better for the body’s immunity and can be safer in the skin. The main health benefit of vegan tattoo ink comes from removing shellac, which can cause eczema. Vegan tattoo ink isn’t inherently better than non-vegan inks and can still contain ingredients which have risks of allergy, so it’s always better to offer your client a patch test if they are unsure of any potential issues.
Is Eternal Tattoo Ink Vegan? Yes, all tattoo ink from Eternal is vegan!
Is Fusion Tattoo Ink Vegan? Yes, all colours from Fusion Tattoo Ink are also vegan-friendly.
Is Intenze Tattoo Ink Vegan? As with Eternal and Fusion, all colours in the Intenze tattoo ink line-up are vegan!
Is Tattoo Ink Organic? Some are, but some aren’t! Thankfully it isn’t too difficult to find organic tattoo ink, although it’s usually easier to look by manufacturer rather than finding a specific colour. Most artists will have a favourite brand of tattoo ink, which is found by trying various different styles and techniques over time. Kuro Sumi, Eternal Ink and Fusion Ink all have completely organic product lines, and many other companies will have specific organic products. There’s no known health benefit from using organic inks, but they may be less likely to include allergens, especially if they’re also vegan-friendly.
What Is Red Tattoo Ink Made From? Red tattoo inks are the most likely to elicit an allergic reaction from your clients. Some contain iron oxide - also known as common rust - which creates a rusty red colour, and is also found in brown and orange pigments. They might also contain nickel, which can be a potential allergy risk for those sensitive to the metal. For a more vibrant red, cadmium and cinnabar are used. In some cases, cadmium may cause redness, itching and flaking, but is unlikely to be more than a discomfort. If your client is concerned about being allergic to red tattoo ink, you can give them a patch test 24 hours before the appointment to see how their skin reacts.
Does Black Tattoo Ink Contain Metal? There are many elements that can potentially be in black tattoo ink, and it won’t always be obvious what exactly is in your ink bottle. Iron oxide and nickel are popular elements still seen in many black tattoo inks, but black inks tend to be the least problematic of all the metal-based inks. There are some non-metal formulations made of materials like magnetite and powdered jet, and if your client doesn’t mind not having a vegan tattoo, you can also try pigments with ingredients like bone char and carbon. If in doubt, you can find the Material Safety Data Sheets for most tattoo inks online which will tell you some of the ingredients – feel free to email us if you need this too!
Does Purple Tattoo Ink Fade Fast? There’s a lot of debate over whether purple ink fades faster than other ink colours, although there seems to be anecdotal evidence that it does. The colours that are known to fade the fastest are yellow, white, red, and green, but purple is also known for losing vibrancy quicker than black or blue inks. It also depends on the intensity and brightness of the colour - pastels and watercolour purples are likely to fade faster than an intense violet. The most important factor in how a tattoo heals is aftercare. Keep fresh tattoos out of the sun (as prolonged exposure can cause healed tattoos to fade), make sure they don’t get too wet and use the best aftercare solutions, such as Hustle Butter Deluxe.
Is Expired Tattoo Ink Safe to Use? A common question asked is, does tattoo ink go out of date? Yes it does! While the ingredients won’t spoil or go mouldy, there is an expiration date set on the bottle’s sterility, which is usually about two years from manufacture (although it can expire earlier if stored incorrectly). Be sure to check your inks regularly and discard any passed their expiration date. Expired tattoo inks may start to separate, which is a visual warning that they’re past their best, and the separation may alter the colour of ink in the skin. The real dangers come from bacteria being harboured in the bottle. Bacteria in tattoo ink can cause the tattoo to become infected and may lead to scarring and distortion, so it’s important to not take the risk of using ink that’s outside of its expiry date! You might also notice a “6M” symbol on your ink bottle. The 6M labelling means it should be used within 6 months after opening. Once opened, write the date on the bottle or the label attached.
How To Put Ink in Tattoo Machine? The tattoo machine itself doesn’t hold any of the ink you use when tattooing. The ink you’re using should be dispensed into small ink caps and any mixing needed done in these to ensure you’re not contaminating your bottles of ink or affecting the colour. Run your tattoo machine and then carefully dip the end of the needles or cartridge into the ink, making sure not to hit the bottom or sides as this can damage your needles. The ink is drawn up into the cartridge reservoir or tube, and excess ink is pushed out by the motion of the needle.
How Much Ink for a Tattoo? The amount of ink used in a tattoo can vary drastically depending on the size of the tattoo, its coverage, and what colours are used. You want to avoid unnecessary waste by not pouring too much into the ink caps, as you’ll need to throw away any ink that’s been poured and not used. However, this needs to be balanced against the hassle of adding more ink to your caps, which requires removing your gloves, a thorough handwash, and another pair of gloves to keep things sterile. Tattoo ink will go a lot further than you first expect, as only a small amount can be drawn into the needle or cartridge anyway, but with time you’ll learn to estimate how much ink you’ll need in your caps. Also keep in mind that with every dip of the needles into the cap, you’ll be diluting the ink slightly.
How To Mix Glycerine and Tattoo Ink? You might want to mix glycerine into your tattoo ink to help keep the ink wet, especially if the cap has been left off the bottle. You can also add glycerine if the tattoo ink is a bit too watery for your style and way of working and you want to thicken it up for better saturation and longevity. Glycerine is usually an ingredient of tattoo ink, so it doesn’t harm the ink in any way to add more into the mix. To mix it in, pour your tattoo ink and glycerine into an ink cup, then stir it together thoroughly using disposable sterile ink mixers. We also stock various mixing solutions which are great for colour mixing and dilution without changing shades.
What Is the Best Grey Wash Tattoo Ink? Grey washes vary in quality and features - sometimes you want to go for something that’s water-thin, and sometimes you need a little more thickness to hold onto your needle! The team behind Silverback Ink® are the experts in black ink, and as such they also make some killer grey washes. They have a huge range of grey washes available to order as individual inks or complete sets. World Famous and Kuro Sumi also have a brilliant line-up of grey washes in a variety of shades, with the launch of the REACH-compliant Limitless and Imperial ranges meaning that artists around Europe can still use them to their hearts’ content! Purchasing a complete set is the best way to find which grey wash is suitable for you.
How To Make Black Tattoo Ink Lighter? The easiest way to lighten up black tattoo ink is by diluting it with glycerine or shading solution. It is also possible to lighten a black ink by using white tattoo ink (this makes an opaque grey – not a grey wash), although be aware that as white ink is denser, it will affect how easily the ink goes into the skin. In the same way, you can use other light colours to lighten and give a tint to the black. Make sure that you have enough ink made up for the entire tattoo, as you might not be able to recreate the exact shade later on!
Can You Mix Different Tattoo Ink Colours Together? In general, yes; regardless of whether you’re mixing within the same brand or different brands. However, you will need to take into consideration the thickness of the different inks and whether it will change when mixed. You can use a colour mixing solution to help with this.
Can You Dilute Tattoo Ink With Water? If your tattoo ink is too thick for your style and way of working, you can dilute it down - and one of the ways to do this is with water. We recommend that if you do use water, make sure to use distilled water, as this will keep your tattoo ink sterile. You can also use glycerine or even witch hazel, which might have the added bonus of soothing the skin. Make sure to check what carrier fluid is being used in the tattoo ink as you’ll get the best results by matching it to dilute.
How To Dilute Tattoo Ink? There are different ways to dilute tattoo ink, depending on your desired effect! If you want to create a grey wash or watercolour version of a vibrant tattoo ink, you can use glycerine, witch hazel or distilled water to thin it out slightly, making sure to match the dilution solution to the carrier fluid in your ink where possible. You can also dilute tattoo ink with other colours. For example, by adding drops of white to a black ink, you will alter the colour without making the ink thinner. Make sure that you have enough of this mixture for the whole tattoo, as it might be difficult to recreate exactly later!

Here at Killer Ink, we’re proud to have one of the widest ranges of tattoo ink for sale in the industry! Find every colour from white to black tattoo ink, including our tattoo ink set collection, flesh tone tattoo ink, and grey wash ink.

We’ve hand-selected tattoo inks from incredible brands like World Famous Ink, Kuro Sumi, Intenze Tattoo Ink, Eternal Tattoo Ink, Fusion Tattoo Ink, Radiant Colors, Dynamic Ink, Panthera, Allegory, Empire and Carbon Black Tattoo Ink, and we’re adding more all the time!

We have one of the largest selections of REACH-compliant inks in the industry, with incredible options for EU REACH tattoo ink from brands like World Famous Limitless, Kuro Sumi Imperial, Quantum, Intenze, Eternal Ink, Viking by Dynamic and Radiant Evolved. As regulations develop, we’ll continue to update our collection!

Search by colour to find inks for your watercolour tattoos, bright white tattoo ink, and even scar camouflage tattoo procedures. We also have tattoo ink thinner and mixing solutions, plus PMU pigments. You can also explore our tattoo ink sale section to save some money - and don’t forget about your ink cups!

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