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With tattoo ink, it mostly breaks down into two groups. The first group all has the same base, just different pigments, and the second group all has different bases. Inks can be water or alcohol based. Obviously, the first group makes mixing colors quite a bit easier, but the second group is able to produce bolder, more “pure” colors.


     It is always the preference of your tattoo artist which ink they use, as buying an entire line of another brand of ink would be way too costly. So if which brand of ink that is used on you is important, you might have to try a few tattoo artists to find the right match.  


     There is a few reasons why people might care about what kind of ink that is used in their tattoo. If you want an all white tattoo, you’ll want to get it done with one of the pure pigment group inks. Or if you are health conscious, you might want to make sure the tattoo ink doesn’t contain one of the following: Antimony, Arsenic, Beryllium, Cobalt, Lead, Lead compounds, Nickel and Selenium. These are collectively referred to as toxic metals, each of which is a toxic chemical that is known to be carcinogenic and/or may result in reproductive harm. Also, animal rights activists and vegans who don’t want any animal products in their ink can only use Starbrite inks, as all other brands use animal glycerins instead of vegetable ones. 


   How to find out what is in your tattoo ink is very difficult. Since it is not a food or drug, ink companies do not need to divulge their ingredience list. They do, however, need to have a warning at their site if they contain any toxic metals or chemicals. Ask your tattoo artist ahead of time what brand of ink/pigments they use, and then you can go to that company’s website.


If you are allergic to a lot of pigments and chemicals that are in most beauty products, you might have trouble with some inks. Most companies are producing hypo-allergic inks now, but so far no company has produced a hypo-allergic red ink. Since red is a primary color, the only way to avoid using it is to choose a design that doesn’t use red in it at all. Luckily, orange and purple are completely different pigments and not actually mixed with red, unless your tattoo artist has a very limited color palette.

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Author: Scott Jones