Is there a difference in tattoo ink? What is the best tattoo ink to use?

Is there a difference in tattoo ink
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The tattoo ink you use has a great impact on the quality of the tattoo you create. How do you choose the right ink? You need to understand the differences first.

Is there a difference in tattoo ink? Tattoo inks vary greatly in quality between brands. The quality of the Tattoo ink you use will impact the quality of the tattoo. High-quality ink will look bright and stay colourful for years. Low-quality tattoo ink will look faded and aged within a year or so.


After trying out many different inks over the years, I understand the impact they can have on the longevity and quality of your work.

All the tattooing skill in the world won’t help when the customer comes back in 6 months complaining about their washed-out tattoo.

How can you prevent this from happening to you? Read on.

Is there a difference in tattoo ink?

The main differences between different brands of tattoo ink are the ingredients and the balance of these ingredients. Put simply, cheaper brands will use cheaper pigments in their inks and less of them.

More high-quality brands will use purer more concentrated pigments.

The cheaper pigments will be more transient and fade away more quickly.

Cheaper pigments are also more likely to cause allergic reactions and skin conditions.

Higher quality brands with better pigments will result in a tattoo that is brighter and more vivid. The tattoo is much more likely to stay looking good for a long time.

It should avoid strange changes in colour, for example when a black tattoo goes green or blue.

Higher quality brands of tattoo ink are also much less likely to cause skin reactions or allergy problems.

It’s just not worth the risk of using cheap tattoo ink.

What’s the difference between Permanent and semi-permanent Tattoo Ink

Semi-permanent tattoo ink is used to tattoo permanent makeup, like eyebrows or eyeliner.

The main difference between this and tattoo ink is the pigment molecule size.

Semi-permanent tattoo ink has a smaller molecule size than normal tattoo ink. That means that the body can slowly remove the pigment from the skin. As this process happens the tattoo will fade away.

Permanent tattoo ink has a large molecule size. That means the body can’t remove it, so it encapsulates it instead as a protective mechanism.

That’s why it stays permanently in the skin as a tattoo and doesn’t fade.

What’s the difference between using cheap Tattoo inks vs Top brands

It may be tempting to save a bit of cash and opt for the cheap option when it comes to buying tattoo inks. However, this is a false economy.

The tattoos you create are a walking billboard for your business and will get you future work if they are good.

However, if they are faded and itchy they will lose you future customers.

Fading is the biggest issues with using cheap tattoo inks. Ever seen a tattoo that looks 20 years old 6 months after it has been done? That’s the result of using cheap inks {often combined with poor technique}.

Some colours are more prone to fading than others. Yellow is the worst.

I had a guy come to me as a new client complaining about a tattoo he had done in a rival shop. It was mostly yellow and the colour had almost completely disappeared within 3 weeks!.

Don’t let this happen to your work.

Is there a difference in tattoo ink

“Red Reaction” allergy and cheap tattoo inks.

Cheap tattoo inks are also more likely to result in allergies, especially “red Reaction”.

Red reaction happens when a client allergically reacts to the red pigment within a tattoo.

Red pigment contains mercury sulfide (cinnabar). Red is by far the colour that people react to the most, although any colour can cause an allergic reaction.

Red pigment is often mixed into other colours too so anything on the warm side of the colour spectrum can cause it, including pinks, yellows and oranges.

The reaction is often triggered or aggravated by the sun. It can be incredibly itchy and unpleasant.

In the old days, tattooists would “cure” the issue by tattooing black over the top to block out the sun from the red pigment.

Thankfully with better inks, it is less of a problem these days but it still occurs.

However, using cheap inks with cheap pigments more commonly results in a red reaction.

I had several clients come to me from other tattooists. They wanted tattoos recolouring as they had faded. They complained that the original tattoo hadn’t healed well and had been itchy and scabby.

When tattooed with top quality ink they had no problems healing the tattoo.

What’s the difference between fake or real Tattoo inks

There is a big problem with fake tattoo ink being sold on the internet. The bottles will look genuine but the ink will not be made to any kind of standard.

God only knows what is in it. It won’t have been made in a sterile environment with sterile ingredients.

This obviously runs a huge health risk to your client.

Make sure you know that you are buying genuine ink. Never buy ink on eBay and always ensure you are buying from a reputable source.

The problem with Low-quality ink in Tattoo Starter Kits

I spoke to a dermatologist who told me she was seeing a rise in tattoo skin problems. In each case, she was told that the person had been tattooed by a friend with a starter kit using the inks in the set.

These inks, especially in cheap kits, are often fake Chinese versions of top brands. They look great but have suspect ingredients.

They are only intended for use on practice skin. Never use them on humans.

If you do start tattooing people, for god’s sake invest in a decent ink set.

What is the safest tattoo ink to use?

The safest tattoo ink to use is one that is from a recognised top brand that is rigorously safety tested. Some of the safest Tattoo ink brands are;

  • Intenze
  • Fusion
  • Eternal
  • Kuro Sumi
  • Dynamic
  • World Famous Ink
  • Starbrite

What is the healthiest tattoo ink?

What is the healthiest tattoo ink? Many brands are now vegan and not tested on animals. Fusion inks and Intenze Inks are both vegans. The healthiest tattoo ink is a high-quality one.

What is the best tattoo ink to use?

Now you know how crucial it is to get good quality inks, you may be wondering what are the best inks to buy.

You want a good range of interesting colours backed by recognised manufacturing quality.

These are my recommendations. I DON’T recommend Moms inks.

Intenze Color Tattoo Ink Starter Set 1 oz 11 Primary Colors or Light Colors

  • Certified ISO 9001:2015 
  • Created by celebrity tattoo artist Mario Barth
  • Vegan & not tested on animals

Check Price on Amazon

Eternal tattoo Ink Sets (12 color sample set- 1oz)

  • Made in USA
  • Bright vivid colours

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What is the best black tattoo ink to buy?

The best black is a question of choice. You want a black that will stay black over time and not change to a green or blue cast.

My personal favourite is Dynamic Triple Black Tattoo Ink. 

Dynamic Triple Black Tattoo Ink Bottle 8oz

  • Made in USA
  • Vegan
  • Super Black

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What is the best white tattoo ink to buy?

You want a good bright white that will not yellow with time.

I recomend StarBrite White 

StarBrite Colors Sterilized Tattoo Ink Brite White 4 oz

  • Vegan
  • Iron free
  • Nickel free

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Is there a difference in tattoo ink?

I hope this post has given you an understanding of the importance of your choice of tattoo ink and the differences between brands.

You owe it to yourself and your clients to do the best tattoo you possibly can and good quality inks will help you achieve that.

If you want a bit of extra help with your journey to be a tattoo artist, download my free guide below.

Learn How To TattooFREE E-BOOK DOWNLOAD

20 Crucial Tips You Need To
Know To Enter The Tattoo Industry.

“Crucial Information if you are looking to
find an Apprenticeship or break into the Tattoo Industry”

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