Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tattoos and Vegans

In the past few days I have been obsessing over being Vegan and being Tattooed. I read an article recently about Vegan tattoos that brought up a good point, Are Tattoos Vegan? Being a collector of tattoos for many years and occasionally a tattoo artist, the subject never crossed my mind. The biggest concern about tattoos being Vegan is the ink, tattoo inks are unregulated and not "FDA approved". Manufacturers are not required to reveal their ingredients; the basic ingredients are pigment (for color) and a carrier to disperse the color. Carriers keep the ink mixed evenly, free from pathogens, and aids in application. The professional base ingredients are usually pigment, sterilized water, alcohol, and glycerin. Glycerin is derived from animal fats but there is a vegetable alternative. Most professional tattoo artists use pre-made (pre-dispersed ink), while others mix there own using dry pigment and a carrier. Another problem with tattoo inks is Black (bone black); Black is usually India ink, which is made from burning animal bones and collecting the soot. There are brands of tattoo ink that are Vegan friendly; I will list them at the end. The only way to know for sure if the ink is Vegan would be to ask. Ask if the brand they use is Vegan and if they do not know ask if they can find out from the manufacturer. If the tattoo artist mixes there own ink ask if they use a vegetable base glycerin. It can't hurt to ask.

There are other aspects of the tattooing process that might not be Vegan. For example A&D ointment contains lanolin, this can be replaced with Bacitracin Zinc ointment, which is Vegan. Also there is glycerin in green soap ask if they have an alternative like Dr. Bronners Lavender liquid soap (which smells awesome). If there are any concerns about products being used for your tattoo being Vegan friendly just ask the artist, they should be able to give you an answer and hopefully offer an alternative product. If not offer to bring the Vegan safe products yourself, the worst they can say is "NO".

In a perfect world we would be able to live life 100% Vegan but as we all know the world is not perfect. So just keep doing your part to the best of your ability and enjoy. Personally I try my hardest to be as true to being a Vegan as I can, but I am not ready to give up watching movies because there is gelatin in the film or reading because book glue is made from animal hide and bones. I will definitely not give up getting tattooed because that is part of my whole existence. I am the Tattooed Geek! I will try to make the best effort to keep future tattoo experiences Vegan, but if Filip Leu tells me his ink is not Vegan and I am about to get tattooed, when he is finished I will hang my head in shame (with some fresh ink from Filip).

Pelikan black is Vegan.
Waverly colors are Vegan.
Unique (Permapro) colors are Vegan.
Starbrite is Vegan.
Stable is all Vegan.
Eternal is all Vegan.
Classic is all Vegan.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Hey,
    it seems like you did a lot of research. So, I was interested in getting a tattoo and noticed when a friend got their tattoo that they were applying A&D -defn not vegan- while giving the tattoo and I was wondering what could replace that? Or is it even necessary. Could I ask them not to use it? Please reply@

    Thank You!

  2. Disregard last comment, I guess I skipped a paragraph while reading

  3. Intenze ink is also vegan. I uses that as ell as some of the ones you mention above. I practice all vegan tattooing if you find yourself in LA give me a shout. Check out my blog to see my work
    Here is my vegan tattoo announcement.

  4. Just to clear up this post that all Starbrite Inks are vegan friendly and come to the source if you need any info like this or call 866-209-7361

    Tommy's Supplies

  5. Thanks for clearing that up Tom. Now we know ALL STARBRITE INKS are VEGAN!!! Much appreciated.