As a vegan, you quickly learn that the world depends heavily on animals or animal by-products. Everything seems to be made from animals; from the food we eat to the things we wear.
You also quickly learn that it can be pretty difficult, and in some cases almost impossible to find vegan alternatives to non-vegan products. Luckily, the world has recognized the need to support vegan needs as well, and generally start turning away from the animal, to plant-based production.
Almost every major industry in the world has either gone vegan or provides vegan alternatives; that is why you can nowadays buy a vegan shampoo, vegan meat, or even buy vegan clothes. But, what about tattoo ink? Has the tattoo industry joined the vegan movement, and how can you get tattooed as a vegan?
These are the important questions we’ll try to answer in the following paragraphs. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Tattoo Ink Ingredients – Explained
Before we get into the topic of the vegan tattoo, we first need to understand the need for vegan ink. Now, as you may know, tattoo ink generally contains a lot of animal by-products. For example, the standard ingredients of a regular tattoo ink contain;
- Bone char – used to increase or saturate the pigment
- Animal fat glycerin – used as a pigment carrier
- Hoof gelatin – also used as a pigment carrier
- Crushed beetle shells – used as ink binder
- Cod liver oil
In order to create a tattoo ink, manufacturers used things like iron oxide, logwood, cinnabar, cadmium, witch hazel, ethyl alcohol, and many more other chemical ingredients. It is essential to mention that the majority of the ingredients used to create anything, from black to red ink, are pretty much toxic and contain heavy metals. And, of course, alongside these ingredients, there are the animal by-products used to either enhance the pigment or to act as pigment carriers.
Therefore, as a vegan, it can be almost impossible to get tattooed with ink that either doesn’t contain toxic chemicals or animal by-products.
So, How Can I Get a Cruelty-Free Tattoo?
Vegan Tattoo Ink
Now, the good news is that vegan tattoo ink is a thing. Though not every tattoo artist has vegan ink as an available alternative, many tattooists are willing to order vegan ink if their customers are asking for an alternative. So, that is a good thing as well.
But, we still need to take a closer look at vegan ink and find out what exactly makes it vegan.
The main thing that differentiates between vegan and non-vegan ink is the use of vegetable- or plant-based ink stabilizers, binders, and carriers. The majority of vegan inks contain vegetable glycerine and plant oils instead of animal-derived glycerin and oil. Generally, vegan ink brands explain the ink ingredients and point out which animal-derived ingredients are replaced and what exactly acts as their replacement.
If you want to get tattooed using vegan ink, it is important to either find a vegan tattoo artist or ask a regular tattoo artist to order vegan ink and use it for your tattoo. You’d be surprised with how welcoming the tattoo community is of this new wave of vegan ink.
Vegan Tattoo Transfer Paper
Now, this may be less known information, but the majority of tattoo transfer papers used in the process of tattooing are not vegan. The transfer papers are made using lanolin, also known as wool wax of wool grease. It is made from sheep’s wool and acts as a protective barrier or a moisturizing agent in these transfer papers.
It is important to mention that vegan transfer paper is not as developed of an idea as vegan ink. The only brand that creates vegan transfer paper is the ReproFX Spirit Thermal Tattoo Transfer Paper. This paper is made with vegetable-synthetic blends to replace animal-based waxes used in traditional transfer paper.
The Best Vegan Ink Brands
If you want to pursue a vegan tattoo, then make sure to check out the following vegan ink brands as well;
- Alla Prima Ink – this company provides a premium selection of high-quality, safe, and vegan-friendly tattoo pigments. Their ink is excellent to use on its own or to mix, depending on your preferences for the tattoo.
- Fusion Tattoo Ink – this brand provides fully vegan tattoo ink. The ink is available in different colors and has a thicker pigment layer compared to other inks on the market. It is intended for use by professional tattoo artists.
- Bloodline Tattoo Ink (Affiliate Link) – this brand provides fully vegan, cruelty-free ink. From manufacturing to bottling, everything is made fully vegan and safe for the customers and users. The ink is high-quality, super vibrant, and versatile for different tattooing techniques.
- Kuro Sumi – originally formulated in Japan, Kuro Sumi provides vegan tattoo products as well as vegan ink. The Kuro Sumi ink is world-class and probably the best vegan ink out there. It provides amazing results since the ink is super vibrant and safe for use.
- Eternal Tattoo Ink – this brand provides fully vegan tattoo ink, which is made with natural pigments and hasn’t undergone any animal testing. The ink is made in the USA and cooperates with all the regulations and standards of the USA market.
Here are some other vegan tattoo ink brands you can check out; Stable Color, SkinCandy, Waverly Color Co., Feldman, Intenze Tattoo Ink, Electric Ink USA, Star Bite, as many others.
Other Vegan Tattoo Items/Products
When tattoo artist uses vegan ink to create tattoos, it is essential they adjust all of the other tattoo-related items and elements as well. For example, we mentioned the vegan tattoo transfer paper as a good starting point.
What would also be good to do is switch from standard soaps and moisturizers to vegan ones. A tattoo artist cannot just replace one thing with a vegan alternative and call it a day. For people who are vegan, it is essential that the whole process is vegan-focused.
Other things tattoo artists can replace with vegan alternatives include moisturizing strips on razors, which can also contain animal-derived waxes and lubricants. It is also essential that tattoo artists recommend proper vegan aftercare for their customers; like vegan moisturizers and lotions for tattoo aftercare.
Here are some of the vegan alternatives to standard tattoo aftercare items;
- Preserve POPi Razor (Affiliate Link) – Preserve provides a wide variety of razors designed for both men and women. Their razors are made from recycled ocean plastic and are never tested on animals. They’re a great cruelty-free alternative in case you need to shave before a tattoo appointment.
- Hustle Butter Vegan Tattoo Balm (Affiliate Link) – Hustle Butter provides luxury tattoo aftercare balms and lotions. Their vegan tattoo balm is excellent because it is made from shea butter, mango, and aloe butter, as well as green tea and another anti-inflammatory, nourishing ingredients. The balm is cruelty-free, 100%, and made from all-natural ingredients.
Vegan Ink Safety
Talking about vegan ink without considering things like safety would be wrong. So, let’s tackle this as well.
Now, considering that animal-derived ingredients are not to be found in vegan ink, one would consider it significantly safer than regular ink. Remember how we mention that standard ink contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals? Well, those things can cause some serious health issues, like tattoo and skin infection, allergic reaction, fever, and so much more.
So, is vegan ink safer than regular ink in this sense?
Well, vegan ink has only animal-derived ingredients replaced. The other ingredients, which give it pigment and other ink characteristics, remain the same as in regular ink. So, unfortunately, vegan ink can still contain things like toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Therefore, vegan ink isn’t necessarily safer than regular ink.
Some studies have shown that both regular and vegan ink can still cause adverse side effects and generally contain carcinogenic chemicals, like cadmium, found in red ink. These chemicals can cause autoimmune diseases alongside infections and allergic reactions, as well as lead to cancer development.
The only way you can ensure that the tattoo process goes well and safe is to get tattooed by a professional, reputable tattoo artist. By going to the best tattooist in your area, you’re minimizing the chance of anything going wrong. Professional tattooists pay strict attention to cleanliness, hygiene (personal and that of the studio), as well as high-quality products.
So, when you’re looking for a tattoo artist, always go for the best. Also, make sure to talk to your tattoo artist about the ink they use. If they do not use vegan ink, discuss your options. Chances are they will order vegan ink for you. But, we recommend it is best to simply find a vegan tattoo artist from the get-go.