Which are the best tattoo ink brands?
Today, I’d like to talk to you about choosing tattoo ink.
I want to help you find the safest inks that provide the richest colors that last the longest.
Let’s begin by discussing the top brands of tattoo ink.
- Characteristics of the best tattoo ink manufacturers
- What ingredients are in the best tattoo inks?
- Best Tattoo Ink Brands
- Bloodline (AKA Skin Candy)
- Kuro Sumi
- Millennium Moms
- Starbrite Colors
- World Famous
Characteristics of the best tattoo ink manufacturers
As you shop for tattoo ink, you’ll run across brands that only sell to established artists who can document that they are professionals or apprentices. I won’t be covering those manufacturers today.
Instead, I’m including tattoo ink brands that the ordinary person can purchase online. Forgive me if I provide more information than you need as I’m assuming my audience isn’t all experienced artists.
Here are characteristics of the best tattoo ink brands:
- They use safe ingredients and manufacturing processes.
- It’s possible to check their material safety data sheets (MSDS).
- They adhere to the US (and sometimes EU) standards for safety, quality, and purity.
- There is a wide variety of colors available, including sets.
- The colors maintain their vibrance past the first year.
As you might imagine, you’ll pay a little more for the best brands, but it’s worth it for safety, quality, and colorfastness.
What ingredients are in the best tattoo inks?
In a nutshell, pre-dispersed tattoo ink consists of pigment and a carrier liquid.
The best inks balance safety with consistency and color.
For example, the carriers they use might be purified water, isopropyl alcohol, or witch hazel.
Each one has its pluses and minuses. The manufacturer has to consider how fast the ink dries in the cup and how likely it is to irritate the skin.
Sometimes, inks contain glycerin to emulsify the pigment, too. (Yes, it’s possible to use vegetable glycerin in vegan ink.)
As for pigments, it gets trickier.
In early times, black shades were made from carbon black, which might come from charred bone and iron oxide.
Worse, bright shades like yellow and red use to derive from heavy metals like cadmium (1).
Nowadays, manufacturers lean towards organic pigments instead of mineral and metal ones. The organic options include azo pigments, which are developed for painting cars and coloring textiles.
Unfortunately, azo pigments may release carcinogens into the body. Therefore, the tattoo industry is still working on creating a completely safe tattoo ink.
Thankfully, the top brands worry about making ink that’s safe and effective. They are aware that the ingredients they choose to use have long-term effects on the body (2).
Best Tattoo Ink Brands
Let’s view the options now in alphabetical order.
Allegory is based in Florida. They began their product line with the most popular color that tattoo artists use: Black.
They focus on producing a dependable product that makes lines easy to pull.
Allegory Premium Tattoo Ink Blak
Blak is a signature shade produced by Allegory Ink. It’s a deep, rich color ideal for lining and shading.
Moreover, the vegan formula has a silky, smooth texture. Keep it in top condition by shaking the bottle as it has a glass marble agitator inside.
Each bottle is made of transparent PET plastic with a tamper-resistant twist top.
Artists love this ink because it packs well and heals deep black.
Bloodline (AKA Skin Candy)
Bloodline Tattoo Ink is manufactured in a clean room in California. The company was founded by a perfectionist in 1995.
It’s no surprise that they go to such lengths to create a high-quality product.
They use an EU-certified dispenser to weigh pigment, which ensures perfect consistency from batch to batch. Then, their inks have a 2-year+ shelf-life.
Moreover, artists have noticed that the inks tend to saturate the skin evenly, plus the skin tends to heal quickly.
Bloodline Tattoo Ink All-Purpose Black
Bloodline’s all-purpose black is water-based for faster healing. It consists of sterile water, organic pigment, alcohol, and propylene glycol.
This deep shade is suitable for lining, shading, and packing. But take note that you’ll need to dilute it for outlining as it’s thick and may blot. You may also wish to thin it for shading.
Cut it 3:1 with witch hazel, distilled water, or even Listerine.
As for tribal work, it’s best for magnum needle grouping.
Bloodline 12-Color Tattoo Ink Set
Experience some of the best that Bloodline has to offer with this half-ounce bottle set. It contains a dozen colors, including All-Purpose Black, White, Canary Yellow, Glory Stem Green, Bright Red, Bell bottom Blue, etc.
You’ll find that pros don’t hesitate to recommend it as the shades are brilliant and long-lasting.
Bloodline 6-Color Tattoo Black Light UV Ink Highlight Set
Bloodline is one of the few manufacturers that has developed UV ink for tattooing. It glows under black light.
The set comes with 6 highlight colors, including orange, red, pink, green, and yellow. There’s also a bottle of invisible ink.
Some shades may burn when they go into the skin as they contain phosphorous.
As Dynamic is one of the biggest tattoo ink brands globally, they have a problem with bootlegging. Their packaging isn’t very distinctive, and it’s easy to imitate. If you’re not careful, you could end up with ink that’s not authentic.
But if you get the real stuff, you’ll find that it flows smoothly as it has a thin consistency. It tends to heal rapidly, leaving the skin with bright colors that last.
You might even decide to cut the ink to end up with softer tones.
Dynamic Tattoo Ink
Select from a variety of colors and bottle sizes with 1, 4, and 8-ounces.
Dynamic makes them all in the USA with vegan ingredients. They don’t test on animals, either.
For example, the black is excellent for shading and lining or making greywash if you dilute it.
Intenze offers pre-sterilized ink that’s compliant with EU and US safety regulations.
They offer one of the widest selections of colors on the market, including pastels.
Instead of purchasing each bottle individually, get one of their sets to try.
Intenze Professional Tattoo Ink Zuper Black
Intenze shares helpful guidelines for new artists.
They recommend applying Zuper Black ink only to legs, arms, hands, the back, chest, and the neck, not the face. It’s not advisable to use it for cosmetic purposes or near the eyes.
They explain that it’s excellent for coverups with 75 to 100% opacity. The tone is cold, not warm.
It’s a color designed by artist Mario Barth and used by other pros around the world.
What’s more, it’s suited for lining, shading, and color packing on all skin tones. In the description, they list the most appropriate needle sizes for each function.
The vegan formula is pre-sterilized and packaged in a tamper-proof bottle. It’s designed to not dry out while the artist is working.
If you’d like to try it, it comes in 1-ounce bottles. But if you’re already convinced of its quality, it’s also available in a 12-ounce size.
INTENZE Color Tattoo Ink Set
Get a rainbow of colors plus white, black, and brown ink in this set. They all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Furthermore, they come from a cruelty-free brand that avoids hazardous ingredients.
Intenze Tattoo Ink Pastel 1/2oz Color Set
Intenze is one of the few brands that offer pastel inks.
This set includes Rose Pink, Banana Creme, Creamsicle, Peach, Sea Foam Green, Bahama Blue, and more.
Reviewers have said that the shades heal true to expectations.
Some of the best tattoo ink for sensitive skin is made by Kuro Sumi.
It’s vegan, non-toxic, and highly-pigmented. Some say that it’s nearly impossible to cover up Kuro Sumi tattoo ink.
Be cautious when you shop for this brand as they are frequently imitated. You can check their list of approved distributors and learn how to detect fakes by looking at the labels.
The real Kuro Sumi ink is manufactured in the USA.
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink Lining and Shading Set
If you’re into portraits, get an ink set with black outlining and greywash for shading.
The organic pigments retain their vibrancy over the years. And the shades in this set transition perfectly from dark to light.
Artists point out that the water-based ink lays down easily. It heals well, too.
The main complaint I’ve heard is that the bottles tend to leak.
Kuro Sumi Colors Tattoo Ink – Master Set of 7 Best Sellers
Get all the primary colors you need in this 7-ink set. Each one is vegan and organic.
Pros use them as they saturate well and are unlikely to cause skin irritation. The colors stay lively for years to come.
Millennium Moms ink comes in an extensive variety of colors, including UV-reactive shades.
All colors are available in different sets so that you’re not limited to buying one bottle at a time.
This American brand is respected for the consistent flow rate of its ink, too.
Millennium Moms Black Pearl Outlining Tattoo Ink
Black Pearl is a smart choice whether you’re doing stick and poke or outlining a tattoo with a machine.
It was created over the course of 10 years of experimentation. Artists love it because they don’t have to go over lines when they use it, and it doesn’t dry out in the cups.
Millennium Mom’s Nuclear UV Blacklight Tattoo Ink
Blacklight tattoos are trending. Plus, it looks spectacular if you use UV-reactive ink to highlight regular tats.
Millennium Moms is one of the few brands that offers it. The set includes 5 ½ ounce bottles with Blue Smoke, Purple Haze, Atomic Green, Red Dawn, and Invisible Fallout.
What is the safest tattoo ink? I’d say that the Italian brand Panthera is among the top producers.
The company was established in 2000 by experienced tattooists. They took their knowledge and used it to create better products, putting health and safety first.
Each pigment they use is analyzed to see if it meets European and international standards for quality and purity.
They refuse to include carcinogenic compounds, plus they sterilize each ink in the final phase of production.
Panthera Tattoo Ink – XXX TRIBAL BLACK
Tribal Black is the darkest ink that Panthera makes. The rich velvet gloss comes in a 5-ounce bottle.
It’s one of the best inks for lining as it’s vibrant and resistant to fading in the sun.
Try it for stick and poke if you want your hand poke tattoo to last.
Panthera Ralf Nonnweiler Artist Series
A famed artist created this set with Smooth Blending and Smooth Finish (greywash) ink.
The glossy texture is ideal for subtle details and shading.
Starbrite is less expensive than some brands, yet their colors are vivid and lasting.
They’ve been in the business for over two decades. The manufacturing facility in Connecticut is a Class A cleanroom that’s ISO-certified.
Once the ink is ready, it’s treated with gamma radiation to sterilize it.
StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink Tribal Black
Artists rely on Tribal Black to lay down heavy black lines that heal dark and sharp.
If you need to thin it, cut it with a 50/50 mix of water and glycerin.
StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink Scarlet Red
Red tattoo ink can be problematic for those with sensitive skin. But this one is free of iron and nickel, and it’s sterilized for safety.
You can check the MSDS sheet to discover which pigments are included.
World Famous is the result of 50 years of experience in the tattoo industry. This American brand makes bold, richly-colored inks that are compliant with strict European regulations.
Moreover, each one is sterile, non-toxic, and vegan.
World Famous Tattoo Ink – Black Outlining
Just a little of this true black ink goes a long way. It makes outlines pop.
If you work a lot with black, I highly recommend that you try it.
World Famous Primary Color Ink Set
How can you resist color names like Paul Rogers Red or Everest Orange? Those are just two of the shades included in this set of rainbow colors.
All the inks are cruelty-free and vegan. They are formulated to heal well and protect the long-term health of the client.
The hardest part about getting to know the best tattoo ink brands is deciding which ones to try first.
I hope that you discovered a few to add to your collection.
Drop us a line below to let us know how the new ink worked out for you.
1. https://inchemistry.acs.org/content/inchemistry/en/atomic-news/tattoo-ink.html by Frankie Wood-Black , published February 01, 2017, accessed September 8, 2020
2. https://www.livescience.com/60503-tattoo-ink-body.html by Amanda Onion, published September 25, 2017, accessed September 8, 2020