Odds are if you have to ask, then likely not. It’s not exactly a big selling point since many vegans are still unaware that there is such a thing as a vegan tattoo. Truth be told, some artists don’t even know what’s in the ink’s contents themselves, since suppliers are not required by law to list the full ingredients. Unfortunately, unless you use a tattoo artist who is vegan, or mixes their own inks, then what goes in is often a mystery.

What is tattoo ink made of?

Tattoo ink is made up of pigments which are suspended in a carrier solution. The pigments provide the color of the tattoo, while the purpose of the carrier is to disinfect the pigment suspension, keep it evenly mixed and provide for ease of application. Most pigments are made of metal salts such as iron or copper. Others may be made from plant derivatives. Black pigment (also known as Bone Black), is made by burning animal bones down to charcoal. While the carrier solution is generally made up of: ethyl alcohol, purified water, witch hazel, listerine, propylene glycol and glycerin. Although glycerin may be derived from vegetables sources, it is typically obtained from animal fats.

Are there any commercial vegan tattoo inks on the market?

Many vegan artists mix their own inks to assure their contents, typically substituting vegetable glycerin in the solution. There are indeed some companies currently manufacturing organic vegan inks, the most popular being Stable. The good news is that the Stable brand is very popular and in use by many artists regardless of their vegan-friendly ingredients. So, your favorite artist may already be using vegan-friendly inks. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but many artists do not like to divulge this information.

Tattoo aftercare

Many popular aftercare ointments contain beeswax or lanolin. There are, fortunately, many vegan lotion and ointment options on the market from companies like Jason Cosmetics and Masada Spa which are readily available in most health food stores and online. You can even find yourself a vegan tattoo balm, courtesy of Merry Hempsters (www.merryhempsters.com). Most of the healing products recommended for aftercare such as Curel or Lubriderm are not vegan-so why go through all the trouble of a vegan processed tattoo to forget about the aftercare ?


In truth, there are slowly becoming more and more vegan artists and we are quite blessed to have one here in our area who runs her own business at Conspiracy Ink, downtown. I hope to bring you a one-on-one interview with this very interesting lady in our new series focusing on unique individuals in our area who really put their money where their mouth is , so to speak. Stay Tuned!