How to get inked and stay vegan

While the exact ingredient list varies from product to product, the most common animal ingredients in tattoo ink include bone char, glycerin, gelatin, and shellac:

 • Bone char is used to make black ink, the most commonly used color in tattoos. This ingredient is made from burnt animal bones to achieve the “crispest, darkest shade of black.”

 • Glycerin is a derivative of animal fats. It functions in tattoo ink as a stabilizer and makes the ink easier to deal with.

• Gelatin is a common culprit in many products. It is made from the boiled connective tissue of cows and pigs and serves as a binding agent in many varieties of inks. Shellac, an ingredient made from insects, also acts as a binder in these inks.

• Shellac is an ingredient used in tattoo ink from crushed beetle shells. Shellac is a resin secreted from the female lac bug.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of ingredients – you’ll want to check the product label to be sure – but it is the list of the most common animal products in most tattoo inks. Of all the colors, black is usually the one you need to pay the most attention to.

Luckily, this doesn’t mean you have to trash the tattoo design you’ve been working on! Vegans can opt for plant-based inks that are completely devoid of animal products.


-Vegetable Glycerin-  used in replace animal glycerin. This type of glycerin is plant-based and also called Glycerol.

-Hamamelis – also known as witch-hazel is made from flowering plants. This ingredient is also called Virginiana extract in tattoo ink

Non-toxic (and Vegan) ink ingredients:

Black – carbon and logwood

White – titanium dioxide

Yellow – turmeric

Green – monoazo, a carbon-based pigment

Blue – sodium and aluminum, many of which contain copper are safe

Red – Naphthol which can still cause a reaction

Purple – dioxazine and carbazole


These companies have confirmed that their inks are vegan and the glycerin used is plant-based:

  1. Kuro Sumi 
  2. SkinCandy / Bloodline
  3. Crazyhorse
  4. Southeast Tattoo Supplies
  5. Eternal Ink
  6. Electric Ink USA
  7. Dermaglo
  8. Silverback Ink
  9. World Famous Tattoo
  10. Dynamic
  11. Waverly Color Co  (Dark Black is also vegan)
  12. Alla Prima Ink
  13. Feldman
  14. Pelikan –black is vegan
  15. Stable
  16. Starbrite
  17. Fusion Tattoo
  18. Classic Color Systems
  19. Good Color
  20. Intenze Tattoo Ink
  21. Unique – Perma Pro
  22. I Max Tattoo Inks
  23. I Max brands include: Makkuro Sumi Blacks, Makkuro Sumi Colors, Azayaka Live Tattoo Colors, Universal Blacks, Cobra Inks, Flashing Colors, Glam Colors, Pure Colors

Nowadays many companies are seeing the demand for vegan tattoo ink, meaning you get the luxury of choice when it comes to your next tattoo!


Tattoo by: Taste of Ink Tattoo Studio

Check out this relevant article: What It Takes To Make A Vegan Tattoo.