Do you know what happens when someone is satisfied with their tattoo? They come back for more.
Therefore, it’s crucial to use the best tattoo ink. It ensures that your art looks crisp and vibrant for years to come.
Lining and shading are fundamental to beautiful body art. It all starts with black.
That’s why today we’re reviewing the best black inks for tattoos.
We’ve uncovered the darkest black tattoo ink and the best ink for outlining, among others.
Take a look below to find the best black ink for every tattoo you create.
How to choose the correct black tattoo ink
There are many black inks. How can you sort through them to find the one you need?
First, consider the purpose.
- Do you need black ink for shading? What about lining? Mixing greywash? Some inks are thinner than others for better flow.
- Will you be covering up an older tattoo? If so, you need a highly-pigmented black ink.
Second, look at the undertone of the black ink.
- Is it cool, warm, or neutral? Will it work with the skin tone of the client and the design of the tattoo?
Third, does the client have any special requests?
Fourth, what are your needs as an artist?
- Will you need a large bottle of ink for lining or small bottles for travel?
- Have you calculated the cost or shelf life?
With these questions in mind, it’s a lot easier to find the black tattoo ink that’s perfect for the work you want to do.
The reasons why it’s worth getting the best black tattoo ink instead of something cheaper
In a fresh tattoo, cheap ink might look okay at first. It might flow a little weird, and you might have to go over some areas a few times to darken it.
But soon after the tattoo is finished, the trouble begins. The skin is going to be irritated from repeated needling and a cheap carrier liquid. Then there could be an infection as the ink might not have been sterile.
Just as bad, there might be an allergic reaction or long-term health consequences from unsavory ingredients like heavy metals (2).
Down the road, the ink will fade quickly, and possibly turn blue or green.
All of these unhappy results will damage your reputation as an artist.
On the other hand, you could invest in ink from a brand with a good reputation. It will flow smoothly and prevent blowouts. You’ll minimize irritation and reduce the healing time.
Better yet, the tattoo will retain its color and sharpness for years to come. Your clients will love you, and so will Instagram.
Best Black Inks for Tattoos
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink Lining and Shading Set
Let’s begin with Kuro Sumi inks as they are a reputable brand with high-quality products.
Their black ink is vegan and manufactured in the United States. They use organic pigments suspended in glycerin and witch hazel, according to the MSDS sheet. This results in smooth-flowing ink that promotes rapid healing. It also guarantees that the color lasts without fading.
This set comes with black liner and two shades of greywash that’s ready to use right out of the bottle.
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Double Sumi Tribal Black
Double Sumi Tribal Black is perfect for filling solid black as it saturates smoothly and retains its darkness. It’s also handy for stick n’ poke tattoos.
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Outlining
Also, for stick and poke tattoos, the black liner ink from Kuro Sumi comes highly recommended. It’s also suitable for filling and can be diluted for greywash.
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Eggplant and Purple Black
Not every black ink has a neutral undertone. Be sure to check the tone before you use it.
This one is a purplish-black shade for portraiture.
Quantum Tattoo Ink, Black Dynomite
Here’s an American brand that’s rising above the rest with regards to the safety and health of the client.
It’s CTL-approved and also meets EU standards for safety. Also, it’s lab-sterilized before shipping to prevent contamination with bacteria.
Moreover, it’s water-based and non-acrylic. There are no animal ingredients, which makes it vegan, plus it’s Kosher.
But wait, it also smells good. The carriers include vegetable glycerin, distilled water, ethyl alcohol, menthol, thymol, and eucalyptus. Those latter ingredients make it antiseptic to a degree, which helps with healing.
While all of that is great news, what about the pigment? If you like it so far, you’ll be pleased to know that this has a pigment ratio of 65%. It’s rich, and it’s black, with a blue undertone. The manufacturer describes it as a blend of “jet black pigment and blue.” It’s close to old school ink color.
If you’d like to dilute it, they recommend distilled water or their Holy Water Mixing Solution.
Dynamic Black Ink
Dynamic’s basic black ink comes in an 8-ounce bottle because they know artists will use a lot of it.
It’s excellent for outlining or tribal tats. But for an even blacker black, check out the next ink below.
Dynamic Color Triple Black Tattoo Ink
What’s the difference between Dynamics Triple Black and regular black ink? Triple Black is loaded with pigment that gives it intense coverage for cover-ups and reworking an old tattoo.
It’s so dark you might decide to thin it for lining.
It’s based on carbon black, acrylic polymer, water, and isopropyl alcohol.
Intenze Tattoo Ink True Black
I’m a fan of Intenze ink because they abide by FDA and EU regulations. Their ink is sterile and safe, and they verify that outcome by using a third-party laboratory for testing.
Furthermore, they’ve been around for more than 20 years. They are promoted by the artist Bob Tyrell, for one. In fact, he collaborated with them to make a set of inks for portraits work.
True Black has a neutral color undertone. It mixes well with white.
Intenze Professional Tattoo Ink Zuper Black
Zuper Black is the darkest, most concentrated black that Intenze offers. It’s suitable for all skin colors and has a cool undertone.
Intenze Professional Tattoo Ink Suluape Black
If you’re going to do tribal tattoos, you need to try this ink. It was developed in cooperation with the famed Suluape Tatau artist family of Samoa.
What’s nice about this one is that it doesn’t dry out fast. You can take as long as you need to stick and poke or complete a full sleeve.
Dimension Black By Bob Tyrrell – Intenze Tattoo Ink
Portrait artist Bob Tyrell developed the Dimension Black color in collaboration with Intenze. It’s part of his Black and Gray Series. Some artists love this black ink for shading whether or not it’s for portraiture.
Millennium Mom’s BLACKOUT Tattoo Ink
This versatile ink is appropriate for lining, shading, tribal tattoos, and lettering. It’s a rich black shade based on pigment number 77226.
Like all of Millennium Mom’s ink, it’s made in the USA and sterilized before shipping.
BLACK ONYX Millennium Moms
Mom’s uses uncut pigment, glycerin, and water for smooth-flowing ink by Black Onyx. It’s one of the favorite shades used by artists like Marcus Kuhn.
Millennium Moms Black Pearl Outlining Tattoo Ink
Fans of the Black Pearl ink say that it doesn’t dry out in the caps. It’s excellent for lining and shading but doesn’t saturate as well as some more intense shades.
The MSDS sheet lists the pigments: 74160, 77226, 12475, and 84696-19-5. They are suspended in water and glycerin.
Panthera Tattoo Ink XXX TRIBAL BLACK
Italian brand Panthera offers one of the deepest black inks on the market. They specialize in shades of black that resist fading in sunlight.
All of their ink is manufactured according to strict EU regulations.
Panthera Black Liner Tattoo Ink
I like how this lining ink has a velvety black sheen even after it’s healed.
Viking Tattoo Ink 2-Pack Black Liner & Black Tribal
Viking Tattoo Ink is made in the USA and licensed for use in Europe. Each one is vegan and sterile.
This convenient two-pack features liner and tribal inks. Together, they cover all the basic needs of a tattoo artist. Both saturate well so that there’s no need for going over lines.
Radiant Colors – Tribal Black
This Tribal Black is thicker than Dynamic Ink, but it still flows lightning fast. It contains uncut, homogenized pigment.
Since it’s available in small bottles, you can test it without spending much money.
Bloodline Tattoo Ink All Purpose Black
Bloodline used to be called Skin Candy. It’s a California-based company established in 1996.
They were one of the first with a state-of-the-art facility for making ink. They use a pigment dispenser that assures that each batch of ink will be consistent in color and texture with the last.
Also, they use double-purified water as a carrier for the pigment. It guarantees quicker healing and less chance of irritation. But it’s always a good idea to shake the bottle well before using it.
The all-purpose black color is ideal for tribal work if you use Magnum needle groupings. Dilute it with distilled water for lining and shading.
StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink Turbo Black
StarBrite is made in Connecticut and sterilized to prevent contamination. It’s tested to be free of iron and nickel, making it skin-friendly for those with mental allergies.
Turbo Black is so dark it’s like looking into the void. It features a bluish tint when it heals.
Element Tattoo Supply 3-Stage Shading Set
If you’re on a budget, check out this kit with five bottles of ink. It includes Nighthawk Black, white ink, and three shades of greywash.
This ink is American-made in collaboration with actual tattoo artists. The carriers include isopropyl alcohol and water.
World Famous Tattoo Ink – Pitch Black, 1 Ounce
World Famous Tattoo Ink has been in business for 5 decades. Their vegan inks are certified non-toxic and sterilized with gamma radiation. Artists like Matt Hixson and Lou Rubino, Jr (who started the brand) all use them.
Pitch Black is one of the deepest, darkest outlining inks available. It’s packaged in an attractive crystal flex bottle with a leak-proof cap.
Allegory BLAK Premium Lining & Shading Tattoo Ink
BLAK comes from a lab in Florida where it’s made from vegan ingredients.
This professional-grade organic ink comes with a glass marble agitator in the bottle. It ensures that each time you shake it and pour it out of the bottle, it’s perfectly smooth and ready to use. Artists say it “packs like butter”.
Stigma Black Color Scale Tattoo Ink (Dark Black) TI952-4OZ-D
Stigma makes a range of black inks, including Dark, Medium, Light, and True Black. What’s interesting is that they put a number on each shade to help you see which ones blend and layer well together.
On the downside, these aren’t American inks. They are made from imported materials from the USA, and they come with CE certificates, at least. They are also pre-sterilized.
Nocturnal Tattoo Ink Full Set of 6
Nocturnal Ink was created by the artists Jack Rudy and Franco Vescovi. It’s a 3-ingredient blend of organic pigment, sterilized water, and ethyl alcohol.
The thin consistency flies into the skin and blends well with other inks, even other brands. Think of it as drawing ink for your tattoo machine.
This set includes Super Black, Shine White, Lining and Shading Black, plus greywashes, including West Coast Light, Medium, and Dark. If you plan to use Super Black for lining, please dilute it with 15% water first.
The discriminating artist’s eye will see the differences between one black ink and another. Although there are many choices available, it’s not hard to decide between them once you know what you want.
Some black inks are suitable for lining and others for filling and shading. Each has an undertone that can make or break your finished piece of art.
If you found your new favorite ink here today, drop by again and tell us about it in the comments below.
1. https://www.thoughtco.com/tattoo-ink-chemistry-606170 by Anne Marie Helmenstine, published July 3, 2019, accessed November 2, 2020
2. https://www.livescience.com/60503-tattoo-ink-body.html by Amanda Onion, published September 25, 2017, accessed November 2, 2020