3 Different Types of Tattoo Inks Used By Professional Artists

Professional tattoo artists worldwide use different types of tattoo inks to create beautiful, decorative body art for their clients.

But what kind of inks do they use? And, what properties do these inks have, if any?

Key Takeaways:

  • Pre-dispersed ink: Vibrant colors.
  • Stable pigment ink: Convenient.
  • Vegan ink: Cruelty-free.

What Is Tattoo Ink Made Of?

Tattoo ink comprises two main parts: the carrier and the pigment.

The pigment is responsible for the color. The carrier is supposed to act as a suspension liquid, which is responsible for the uniform and even mixing of the pigment.

a men mixing different types of tattoo inks

In addition, the carrier is meant to help the pigment remain pure and free of all sorts of impurities, like pathogens.

Carriers are usually composed of isopropyl alcohol, acrylic resin, glycerine, water, and witch hazel.

Most tattoo shops and studios use the best quality inks.

You can quickly determine the quality of a tattoo parlor by the reviews people leave for them and even by how hygienic their practices look!

Don’t forget to check our guide on how long is tattoo ink good for.

Types Of Tattoo Inks

According to a research survey, around 17% of people in the United States have multiple tattoos, whereas 9% only have one. (1)

That is a significant chunk of the population investing in good-quality body art ink to decorate their entire body.

However, precisely what types of tattoo ink are used in the tattoo industry and why?

1. Pre-dispersed Ink

This kind of ink is the most convenient one you can use. This is because you can use it as is.

By this, I mean you don’t need thinning liquids to mix it up with other pigments or tattoo inks.

One of the setbacks of using this kind of ink is that if you use inks from different ink manufacturers and mix them together, the color may not turn out well.

2. Stable Pigment Ink

This is the ink you’ll want to pick if you’re a fan of selecting dynamic colors from a rainbow of ink colors.

If you’ve seen incredibly bright and vibrant tattoos on other people, this is the ink their tattoo artists have used.

However, the colors in this ink are incredibly concentrated. You must thin them out and keep mixing them until you reach the desired color.

After this, it’s easy to use them inside your machine. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s not.

In the end, you’ll get lovely, bright colors for your tattoos.

3. Vegan Ink

With 6% of the U.S. population identifying as vegans, many wonder if there are organic pigments that have not been tested on animals and contain no animal products. (2)

If you’re one of them, I hope you feel good knowing that many tattoo studios use plant-based and vegan inks.

A lot of doctors that recommend more tattoo enthusiasts turn towards vegan ink.

Most black ink is made from animal bones that are charred and sooted, also known as bone char.

However, logwood extracts make the pigment that goes into vegan ink.

Even the carrier is made using glycerol from plant fats.

Can Tattoo Ink React Badly?

It is possible for people who have recently gotten tattoos to experience adverse reactions and develop allergic reactions.

It is also possible to develop conditions that look similar to tattoo allergies.

This can be because of poorly sterilized equipment or because the person removed the tattoo coating sheet and exposed the skin to the elements.

Some people also forget to moisturize their skin and apply vaseline to the tattoo afterward, which helps strengthen the skin barrier.

Without proper moisture, your skin may feel tight and itchy afterward, with unusual redness.

These symptoms of negligence can look like tattoo allergies.

But what are the dangers or effects of tattoo pigments, if any?

Here’s an informative video I found on what tattoos do to your skin that you can watch as you read ahead:

The first is that they cannot be contained within the upper layer of the skin’s surface, also known as the dermis.

Instead, they seep inside your skin and into your regional lymph nodes.

Evidence suggests this can become a problem when the pigments interfere with diagnostic and medical procedures.

Some pigments in tattoo ink look like they could be melanomas in diagnostic tests.

Unfortunately, apart from the dyes seeping into the lymph nodes, we don’t have enough evidence to determine how dangerous the pigments are.

Heavy metals are sometimes mixed in with the pigments, although they were regulated before they could seriously threaten public health.

Always consider preexisting skin conditions before proceeding to get a tattoo. This is especially true if you have burns, eczema, or psoriasis.

Keep your artist in the loop and possibly avoid tattoos in the first place.

Because although most people do not develop allergic reactions from getting tattoos, your skin conditions might flare up and give you a tough time.


Which color tattoo ink stays the longest?

Grey and black tattoo inks are the most long-lasting because they are dense. They resist fading more than other colors and are suitable for many skin tones.
A good decade can pass before black and grey tattoos need a retouch.

Which tattoo ink fades the most?

White ink will always fade faster than any other kind of ink.

What makes a tattoo last longer?

Sunscreen and moisturizer are your best friends, in addition to exfoliation.
Make sure you don’t expose a new tattoo to direct sunlight or chlorinated water from swimming pools.


Now you know more about the three types of tattoo inks that are most commonly used.

different types of tattoo inks on table

If you’re a big fan of tattooing yourself and have a variety of inks, let me know about your experience in the comments below!


  • 1. United States: People with tattoo by number [Internet]. Statista. Statista Research Department; Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/259666/survey-on-the-number-of-tattoos/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%20survey%20conducted
  •  2. Chee C. Veganism Statistics in the US for 2021 – How Many Vegans are there in America? [Internet]. Truly Experiences Blog. 2021. Available from: https://trulyexperiences.com/blog/veganism-statistics-usa/
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.

Leave a Comment