How to Make Grey Wash Tattoo Ink? (Step-by-Step Guide)

Grey wash tattoos are growing in popularity, and for a good reason.

Grey wash ink is essential for creating a simple, subtle shading effect in grey tattoos. Creating grey wash tattoo ink requires the use of sterile equipment and supplies.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the process of how to make grey wash tattoo ink and share tips on making your grey tattoo look its best. Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Grey wash inks are used to create depth and dimension when tattooing.
  • When creating your own grey wash tattoo ink, it’s essential to use sterile equipment and supplies for safety and health reasons.
  • Use the right ingredients, in the right amounts, when creating your grey wash inks.

Important Safety Considerations

When making grey-wash tattoo ink, it’s essential always to follow the safety and health protocols for making any tattoo ink. Here are some important safety considerations:

1. Use Sterile Equipment & Supplies

Make sure to use CLEAN and sterile equipment, such as needles, ink caps, and pigment bottles.

You can do this by boiling the equipment to kill bacteria or using an autoclave, which is a professional sterilization device [1].

2. Wear Gloves & Use Disposable Items

Wear disposable gloves when handling the tattoo supplies and materials. Also, make sure to use DISPOSABLE items for each tattooing session.

how to make gray wash tattoo ink

Disposable items include paper towels, plastic bags, and other things you can dispose of after use.

3. Disinfect Your Work Area

Make sure to disinfect your work area with an appropriate cleaner or disinfectant before each use.

This process will help PROTECT both you and the client from infections. Be sure to use a SPECIFICALLY formulated product in the tattoo industry [2].

4. Dispose Properly

After each tattooing session, dispose PROPERLY of all paper towels, plastic bags, and other items you have used.

This ensures that no one gets infected by coming in contact with materials used for a tattoo.

5. Check For Proper Ventilation

Make sure your work area has proper ventilation, as this will help REDUCE the risk of infection. Ventilation is necessary for proper airflow and to reduce the smell of inks and other toxins.

6. Keep The Grey Ink Away From the Open Flame

Always keep the grey wash tattoo ink away from open flames, as this can cause a FIRE because some inks contain alcohol and other flammable ingredients.

Pro Tip: Always research the safety and health protocols for any new product or ink you use.

Tools and Materials Needed to Make Grey Wash Tattoo Ink

Before you begin, gather all the necessary tools and materials to make your grey ink. Here is a list of supplies that are essential for making grey wash tattoo ink:

  • Ink caps
  • Disposable gloves
  • Needles
  • Pigment bottles
  • Paper towels
  • Disposable plastic bags
  • Appropriate cleaners/disinfectant

Pro Tip: Always use fresh and sterile supplies when preparing your grey-wash tattoo ink.

Get to the root of why your tattoo needle isn’t holding ink and learn how to fix it with our expert tips in our must-read article ‘Why is My Tattoo Needle Not Holding Ink‘!

Step-by-Step Instructions for Making Grey Wash Tattoo Ink

Here are the steps to follow when making grey wash tattoo ink:

1. Prepare Your Work Area

Begin by setting up your work area and CLEANING it with an appropriate cleaner or disinfectant. Make sure to wear disposable gloves during the process.

2. Mix Your Black Ink

Take a SMALL amount of black ink in an ink cap and prepare for mixing.

Add distilled water to make grey wash ink until you get the desired shade of grey. The ratio should be 1 part black ink to 3 parts distilled water.

men mixing a black ink

Keep stirring until all lumps are gone, and your mix presents a uniform consistency.

Pro Tip: A black and grey tattoo will require a darker shade of grey than a grey and white tattoo.

3. Fill Your Pigment Bottle With The Grey Wash Mix

Once you have prepared your grey wash mix, fill your pigment bottle with the mixture and secure it tightly with the lid. Shake well before use to ensure a proper blend.

4. Test The Grey Wash Ink On Paper

Before using the grey wash ink on the skin, it is essential to TEST it first on paper. Testing will ensure you have achieved the desired shade of grey and consistency in your mix.

Once satisfied with the test results, you can start using your grey wash tattoo ink.

5. Apply The Grey Wash Tattoo Ink

Once you have tested and are happy with the color of your grey wash, you can apply it to the skin.

Using a needle, inject the grey wash tattoo ink into the skin in EVEN strokes until you achieve the desired grey shading effect.

6. Clean Your Work Area

Make sure to CLEAN your work area and dispose of any used supplies or equipment properly. This will ensure that everything is sanitized and safe for use next time.

7. Store Your Grey Wash Tattoo Ink In A Cool, Dry Place

Once you finish using the grey wash tattoo ink, store the bottle in a cool and dry place AWAY from direct sunlight.

Make sure to label your pigment bottles so you know what’s inside.

Pro Tip: Test different ratios of black ink and distilled water until you get the perfect shade of grey for your tattoo work.

Tips on Applying Grey Wash Tattoo Ink

Now that you know how to make grey wash tattoo ink, here are some tips on how to apply it for the best results:

  • Use light pressure when applying the ink, as too much pressure can cause smudging and blurry lines.
  • Take your time when shading to create soft, even transitions for a realistic look for your grey tattoos.
  • Avoid using too much grey wash tattoo ink at once, as this may make it challenging to build up shades gradually.
  • Test out different amounts of black tattoo ink and water until you find the desired shade of grey.
  • Choose a depth of color that will work with your overall design concept.
  • Make sure to keep the area clean throughout the process, as this will help prevent any infections or skin irritations.


Can I Dilute The Black Ink With Anything Other Than Water?

Yes, you can use glycerin or witch hazel to dilute the black ink in making grey-wash tattoo ink. However, these solutions may not be as effective or consistent as distilled water.

Can I Make Grey Wash Temporary Tattoos?

Yes, use temporary tattoo paper instead of regular skin when creating temporary grey tattoos.

Can I Replace Pigment Bottles With Any Other Containers?

No, it is essential to use pigment bottles as they have been specifically designed for tattoo ink and are safe for skin contact.

How Long Can I Store Grey Wash Tattoo Ink For?

Grey wash tattoo ink can be stored for up to six months if you seal it in an airtight container at room temperature.


Grey-wash tattoo ink can create depth and dimension in traditional or contemporary designs.

As with any project involving safety and health, it’s essential to take some basic precautions before you begin.

Make sure you’re using sterile equipment and supplies and following all other safety guidelines.

Now that you know how to make grey wash tattoo ink and the tips for applying it, you can create beautiful art that will last a lifetime.

men mixing tattoo ink but how to make grey wash tattoo ink

So are you going to try it on your own? Don’t forget to share your experience with us!


  • Autoclave Machine: Uses, Guidelines & Cost | Knowledge Center. Published 2022. Accessed November 21, 2022.
  • Higuera V. How Green Soap Helps a Tattoo Artist Keep Your Tattoo Sanitary. Healthline. Published November 22, 2021. Accessed November 21, 2022.
About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and Twitter. Learn more about her HERE.