Were Animals Harmed in the Making of Your Tattoo?

PictureNowadays, it is pretty common to ask someone if they want a tattoo and they will list out all the possibilities they have in mind. When answering this question, it is almost guaranteed that they have no idea what ingredients are in tattoo ink. In fact, their future tattoo artists may not even know either. When people think of tattoo ink, well they simply think of plain old ink, but that’s not the reality. There’s a whole other story to tattoo ink that too many are unfamiliar with, even those who already have tattoos. Little did they know that a lot of tattoo inks, before, and after care products contain animal ingredients. But, like everything else, there are alternatives. 

Whether you are a vegan or vegetarian, how embarrassing would it be to get a tattoo done and later find out it was made with animal products or tested on animals? After all, these products are now permanently embedded into your skin and there is no second chance. That is exactly what makes the tattooing a research experience, even for those who don’t seem to care about the ingredients. Like everything else, you are not guaranteed vegan inks or products when getting a tattoo unless you speak up or contact the company before hand. Better yet, why not ask the tattoo artist them-self? If they refuse to answer, then it is already clear that they are not someone you want tattooing you, anyways. Who knows what could be in that ink? It’s all a matter of communication to fit your individual needs of safety and wants.

Now, it doesn’t matter whether or not you are vegan, vegetarian, or just simply want a tattoo, the vegan tattooing preference can be for anyone who is looking for a safe, effective, long lasting tattoo. There is a lot that goes into a tattoo, not only the tattoo, the thought of a design, the tattooist, and the parlor, but more importantly, the ink itself. Besides the cruelty, there is also allergy information, toxins, and chemicals that you need to be aware of. 
By now, I imagine you want me to get down to business and tell you what exactly these hidden, mostly unknown animal products are and what the fuss is all about, so here they are according to Vegane Bearatung:

Animal components may be: 

  • Shellac made from the lac of lice – a substance produced by a special kind of lice called Kerria lacca.
  • Burnt animal bones used as a pigment, often in colors with the name “bone black.”
  • Strangely enough, green ink often contains “Indigotin 1”, a pigment or color made from sour Indigotin – which stems from a special kind of slug, who are killed for Indigotin in particular. (Concerning the green color of many things: even some producers of wasabi paste add animal-based indigotin to their product.)
  • The Glycerine in the dissolvent may be animal-based. This is not a must, but can be the case.”

These ingredients listed above such as animal bones, fat, etc. are simply unnecessary and what many would even consider unsanitary. Although these animal products may seem insignificant, for those who truly care about what goes in or on your body, these little facts are essential, especially when it comes to permanent tattoos which can’t be removed without a special treatment or cover up method. 


There may appear to not be many chances for a cruelty-free tattoo at this point, but that isn’t exactly true. When it comes down to reality, it may not be plotted right in front of your face, and like health, this follows tattooing. It’s as simple as searching the parlor or artist by e-mail or phone to find out their procedures and brands of ink, before and after care they use, to see if they fit your individual needs. There’s simply no need for an animal to give up its life to be a life long tattoo. Your tattoo may have meaning, but the animal’s life did, too. Sure, it may be an eye for an eye sort of situation, but why is it necessary when there are safer, more effective options? 

To see just how many tattoo brands are vegan, inks and products, here’s a list made by Kris Manvell, a vegan tattoo artist himself:  

“”Stable Colors” :www.stablecolor.com and “Classic Color System” are 100% vegan, they use vegan-safe glycerin and the pigments are all 100% vegan-safe.

The brands: “Fantasia”, “Dermaglo”, “Eternal”, “Skin Candy”, “StarBrite”, “Waverly”, “Unique”, “Millennium”, they all use vegetal glycerin, and “Fusion “ uses instead” Witch hazel” that is an astringent. The colors are vegan safe, the black ink may not in some brands, since they use the animal bones to do the black pigments , the only black tattoo ink that I know is vegan-safe is “Intenze” and is the one most vegan tattoo artists that know what they are doing chose to use.

Here is also a list of other important vegan friendly products we use to give vegan tattoos:

• Dr. Bronner’s, Jason’s Satin Soap, etc. – There are many vegan aftercare and cleaning products on the market. Visit any health-food store for them and use them instead of Green-soap.

• Iodine- (broadly used for piercings) Iodine is a byproduct of mining, and can be extracted from petroleum brines. It is not animal based.

• Alcohol- Unlike beers and wines which may use animal products in their preparation, rubbing alcohol is vegan safe!

• Astroglide, KY Jelly – These lubricants contain no animal products (unlike some lubricants which contain animal glycerin not vegetable glycerin). You can use it to lubricate your new tattoo instead of petroleum jelly or A&D ointment, some artists as myself prefer to do their own vegan lubricant and give it to their clients sometimes for the tattoo aftercare, you can find inexpensive little ½ containers in the internet for a fair price and you will give to your customers the guarantee that their tattoo is 100% vegan safe.”

*Most of black tattoo inks contain animal bones, even those by brands claiming to be vegan. Therefore it is vital to do research for your safety. 

It may not be about the animals to you, but what about the quality? These inks are known to not only be safer, cruelty-free, obviously, but are also known to have better results when being used with vegan before and after care products to increase their overall longevity. When it comes down to tattoos, the ingredients and process are all something to consider and it all comes down to you to get the best out of it. So why not do the necessary research to insure that not only you are getting the fair treatment you want, but the animals, too? You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to make a compassionate choices towards yourself and others.If you are still curious about cruelty-free tattooing or what exactly a vegan tattoo is, you can check on James Spooner’s video who is a vegan tattoo artist himself.