Will getting a tattoo mean you need to sacrifice some principles around using animal products? Industry experts answer about vegan inks.
Is it possible to get a vegan tattoo?
Getting a tattoo is a great way to show the world who you are and what’s important to you. But if you’re vegan, will getting a tattoo mean you need to sacrifice some principles around using animal products?
The answer is you won’t need to. It’s very possible to get a vegan tattoo and there are even some tattoo artists who specialise in only doing them. However the vast majority of tattoo artists will have no problem giving you one with vegan tattoo inks
Are normal tattoo inks vegan friendly?
Although not obvious, traditional tattoo ink contains some constituents that are derived from animals. For instance some contain bone char, glycerin from animal fat, or gelatin from hooves. And shellac from beetles can also be in the mix.
When tattoo artists started to use them to create designs on people, the world’s awareness on animal cruelty and treatment was much less of a controversial issue than today.
However since the turn of the century, things have been changing fast, and more and more vegan tattoo inks are available.
What are vegan inks?
Vegan tattoo inks obviously avoid including any animal ingredients. Instead, they include the following ingredients:
Vegetable glycerins are used in the place of animal glycerin. This type of glycerin is plant-based and also called glycerol.
Hamamelis, also known as witch hazel, is made from flowering plants. This ingredient is also called virginiana extract, so look out for it in your tattoo ink.
These non toxic and vegan inks ingredients can also be found in these colours:
Black – carbon and logwood
White – titanium dioxide
Yellow – turmeric
Green – monoazo, a carbon based pigment
Blue – sodium and aluminium, plays many that contain copper are safe
Red – naphthol – though it can cause a reaction if allergic
Purple – dioxazine and carbazole
What are the positive points of vegan inks?
The main positive is that vegan-tattoo ink is first and foremost made up of non-animal products. While it is also totally in keeping with moving towards a more ecological, carbon neutral and less cruel world for all living beings.
How we treat our animal kingdom, particularly at an industrial scale has never been more in the spotlight. And so has the carbon impact of large-scale agricultural cattle farming. So reducing the need for animal products can only bring positive benefits for our society and the earth.
Are vegan inks good quality and do they last on your skin?
Yes, vegan inks will not mean you need to sacrifice quality for your principles. In fact, most vegan inks are of very good quality and they will last over time. There really is little or no difference in this regard which means it can be an easy decision for you to choose a vegan ink, even if you’re not a vegan.
What is the biggest difference with normal inks?
The biggest difference is the composition, otherwise nothing else changes. The technique for the tattoo artist remains similar. So you don’t need to seek out a specialised artist, though some will only use vegan inks. However, any tattoo artist could use them. There is nothing special about the application. Just the composition of the ink.
Are Vegan Inks Safe?
Yes they are safe. In fact vegan tattoo ink manufacturers will claim that they are safer than those with animal products because they are better for your immune system.
However, this may not be scientifically the case, and you certainly may have an intolerance or allergic reaction to plant-based products. On the whole though, they are perfectly safe.
Will tattoo inks be any more painful for me during the tattoo?
No, the composition of vegan tattoo inks will not change the pain factor at all because the ink will diffuse in the exact same way as normal ink. So, you’ll have nothing to worry about in this regard. However everyone has a different pain threshold, so we can’t promise it won’t be painful.
Is vegan tattoo ink more sensitive to the sun’s rays and to tanning?
No, however it still is necessary to be vigilant and listen carefully to the recommendations of tattoo experts in aftercare. No matter what kind of ink is used, the general advice is not to expose the tattoo to the sun for one year. And you will also need to follow all their aftercare advice
Where did vegan inks evolve from?
Vegan inks have evolved with the growing vegan movement over the last ten years. They first appeared in the USA and now more and more are available in countries around the world. Major brands include Eternal, Kuro Sumi, Skin Candy and World Famous Tattoo ink. You’ll now see them commonly used by many expert tattoo artists. So, you should feel confident that getting a tattoo will not be a problem
How common are vegan tattoo inks?
Today many tattoo studios will use vegan inks because they are good products. They are generally of a high quality, and you can expect them to be durable over time. We ourselves use some vegan inks in the Black Hat. Ask your artist!
Is it possible that I might be allergic? How can I know if I’m allergic to tattoo inks?
It’s always possible that you may be allergic to a compound that’s in tattoo ink, vegan or not. However, it’s pretty easy to test for something like this by applying some of the ink to your skin before you decide to get the tattoo.
If there is no reaction or red marks, then it means you are not allergic to vegan inks. If you do react, then it means you are.
Do I need to be tested before getting a tattoo with this type of ink?
Not in general, however if you think you are allergic you can ask the expert to put some on your skin to find out for sure.
What about other parts of the tattoo products? Are they vegan too?
Other parts of the tattoo process can contain animal products too, especially tattoo aftercare products and the lubricant strips on razors used for shaving.
Tattoo aftercare products
There are plenty of aftercare lotions with organic vegan ingredients like coconut oils and cocoa butter. However, be sure to listen to the best advice from your tattoo artist about what you should use.
Lubricants for razors
Some of these lubricants on razor blades contain glycerin. So be sure to let your tattoo artist know if you want products without this. You can also bring your own razors to the studio with you, so you are 100% sure the razor lubricant is vegan.
Is my Tattoo Artist using Vegan inks?
Most of the ink brands nowadays have a vegan range within their list of products. However, it is important to call ahead and ask your tattoo artist what brands they are using. Then you can do some quick research on those brands’ websites to be 100% sure.
Got more questions?
We hope this gives you all the information you need around vegan tattoo ink. But if there’s something, in particular, we haven’t covered, we’ll be more than happy to discuss it with you.
Additionally, we are covering other topics to prepare you for your next tattoo session you might be interested in: