Today I’m talking about something you’ve maybe never thought about. In this article, I’ll touch base on why most tattoos aren’t vegan and how to marry your clean, healthful lifestyle with injecting ink under your skin.
Beyond making sure they use sterilized equipment, if you work so hard to eat clean and take care of your body, you should think twice about using conventional ink.
I’m sharing my own research in hopes that it helps you with your own decision.
I ‘ve been slooowwwly creeping my way towards getting a tattoo for several years now. Yes, I have virgin skin. And some of my peers in wellness might say I should leave it that way. After all, if health is my first priority, are tattoos really compatible? Well, that is the same difficult question I’ve been struggling with and why it has taken me so long!
But I love the self-expression of tattoos, and I’m one of those people who thinks a full sleeve looks hot. When I first started dreaming, I wanted to get a tattoo that covered my entire back. But then I heard that was one of the most painful places so decided I’d better start a little smaller…
I have just about decided on the design I want at this point, and I’m getting close to taking the plunge. Especially now that I know about some great local vegan tattoo artists. How cool, right?
Wait a sec. Tattoos aren’t all vegan?!
Not so, my friend. So, if you want to brand your body with positive self-expression, you might consider using vegan ink.
What makes tattoos non-vegan?
- Animals bones burned down into charcoal for black pigment
- Animal fat (glycerin) in the carrying agent
- Gelatin (hooves) and shellac (beetles) used in some inks
- Disposable razors may contain a glycerin “moisturizing strip”
- Aftercare lotions and ointments including beeswax and lanolin (oil from sheep’s wool) or codliver oil
The best way to get a vegan tattoo is to find a vegan tattoo artist, but depending on where you live that might be hard. If you can’t find one, here are some easy ways to make your tattoo vegan:
How to get a vegan tattoo
Although a vegan tattoo parlor would be sweet, if your artist allows you to choose your own ink or they already use one of the high quality vegan brands, you’re all set! You may not even need to use the v-word at all!
The brands Eternal, Starbright, SkinCandy, and Stable are all vegan ink.
A few other tips:
Use Dr. Bronners or other castile soap instead of green soap (which has animal fat). Bring your own razor. Use jojoba oil, olive oil, or shea butter to moisturize (the tattoo parlor may have petroleum jelly which is the lesser of evils if your other choice is animal-based).
But if you choose to go strictly vegan, beware because some vegan inks use plastics which brings me to my next question…
Is Tattoo Ink Safe?
Unfortunately the FDA doesn’t regulate tattoo inks and pigments, which is crazy considering they are forced into your skin repeatedly with a needle!
According to How-To-Tattoo.com, a few of the highest quality brands that are transparent with ingredient info and manufacture non-toxic inks are: National Tattoo Supply, Eternal, Skin Candy, Dynamic and Kuro Sumi.
Beyond ink, the other important aspect to avoid overlooking is the ingredient that carries the pigment into the skin, known as the carrier. Non-toxic versions include purified water, glycerin (vegetable-based), and ethanol.
White and black (iron) are the most toxic colors of conventional tattoo ink, and red pigments cause the most allergic reactions due to the iron oxide (rust), cinnabar, or cadmium red content. Brightly colored or neon pigments are best to avoid as they probably require plastics or chemicals.
Non toxic (and Vegan!) ink ingredients
- Black – carbon and logwood
- White – titanium dioxide
- Yellow – tumeric
- Green – monoazo, a carbon-based pigment
- Blue – sodium and aluminum (is that really safe?), many that contain copper are safe
- Red – Naphthol which can still cause a reaction
- Purple – dioxazine and carbazole
So which tattoo inks are both vegan and non-toxic?
Upon taking a look at both lists – it looks like Eternal and Skin Candy are great ones to start with. But I didn’t look in depth at the others yet – it may be that they all fit both categories!
Hopefully this gets you thinking – whether you are already tatted up or have virgin skin like me.
Now your turn. I want to hear what you have to say!
Got vegan ink? Share your experience. Worried about mixing tattoos and a clean lifestyle? What’s your biggest concern and how do you plan to address it?