Not all tattoo ink is vegan - this is how to tell

Tattoo ink often contains bone char or animal fat

This is how to get a vegan tattoo (Stock)
This is how to get a vegan tattoo (Stock)

Tattoos are a great way of expressing self-identity, but it can be difficult to commit to new ink if you follow a vegan lifestyle - as many tattoo inks include animal by-products.

According to Peta, non-vegan tattoo inks can contain anything from bone char, used to increase pigment, glycerin from animal fat, gelatin from hooves, or insect parts.

And for the most part, unless explicitly stated, it should be assumed that tattoo ink is not vegan.

Ink isn’t the only thing vegans have to worry about, as animal by-products can actually be present throughout the entire process of getting a tattoo.

The stencil paper used by tattoo shops is commonly made from lanolin, which comes from sheep’s wool, and disposable razors often have glycerine in the razor strips, according to The Vegan Society.

Fortunately, as tattoos have become mainstream and artists have continued to experiment with designs and new techniques, getting a vegan tattoo has also become possible - it just requires a little extra research. Even then, there are still risks vegans should bear in mind.

Dina Dicenso, the owner of Gristle Tattoo, a tattoo shop in Brooklyn, New York that specialises in vegan ink warned The Independent: "A lot of the other products that go into a tattoo might not be vegan, such as the ointment, stencil paper, soap and razors."

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To figure out whether a shop is using vegan ink and products, Dicenso told us to ask - as artists are "usually happy to provide the brand names of the products they use."

Or, you can specifically search for tattoo shops that carry vegan ink on websites such as Vegan Tattoo Studios, which filters studios by country and city.

Apart from removing animal products from the process, "the tattooing and healing process is exactly the same" when using vegan ink, according to Dicenso.

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As for the aftercare of a vegan tattoo, it is important to look for a brand that sells a cruelty-free, vegan product - as many tattoo aftercare products also contain lanolin or beeswax.

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