The best tattoo ink has more than well-defined colors, but what should you look for to get the right ones?
Not all tattoo inks are created equal. That alone is enough reason to always seek out the best tattoo ink for any job you will be doing.
However, looking for quality does not mean you have to break the bank.
We have found that it is less expensive to go for better tattoo inks than cheap ones in the long run.
In this guide, we will discuss what to look out for, signs of good and lousy ink, and last but not least, the top 10 brands that offer reliability.
Table of Contents
Why Should You Care as an Artist and as a Client?
As it is known, there are so many tattoo parlors worldwide. Some offer relatively low prices, and others can be expensively out of reach.
The point here is why it is essential to care about the quality of the ink.
As an artist, you can get that relatively inexpensive ink and get the job done anyway, right?
On the other hand, as a client, you trust the artist and the quality of the equipment used, such as well-tuned tattoo machines, site cleanliness, and the inks used.
Have you ever questioned the artist about the inks used for your tattoo?
More often than not, you and your client will end up regretting that you made such a decision.
For what reasons? Oh! We thought you’d never ask.
Some inks could become contaminated and transmit diseases into your client’s bloodstream.
Even if the tattoo machine and other equipment used are new and sterilized, the ink could be your greatest undoing.
Think of the amount of ink that goes into every job and how much of that ink will get into the bloodstream; you know that the contaminated ones can truly spread enough pathogens to cause concern.
The best drawings will be ruined by poor inking.
The best tattoo inks carry true and defined colors that stay in the right hue even after scabbing and multiple washes.
We cannot say the same for the cheap inks.
They might look vibrant at the start, but you will notice a faster decline in quality as time goes on.
This also puts a financial strain on the client as they now have to worry about re-inking the tattoo more frequently.
Well, we know that at some point, there will be a need for retouching the tattoos, if you care, of course.
These two (2) points lead us to the last one.
Loss of reputation
No one wants to go to the tattoo parlor, where everyone is coming away with a potential infection.
At the same time, no one will see a fading tattoo on their friend and ask to get inked in the same place.
Slowly but surely, the reputation of the tattoo shop will be tarnished when word gets around.
Finally, this could even result in losing the shop license.
What to Look For When Buying the Best Tattoo Ink?
These simple signposts will guide you to the best brands and tattoo inks anytime you are making a purchase.
Best tattoo ink ingredients
Some brands decide not to tell what they have in their inks, claiming it is some trade secret. Well, not much can be done to reveal this info.
Based on scientific research, red inks could contain mercury, cadmium, and iron oxide. Other colors may contain others, such as arsenic and lead.
Depending on the dose, these metals can be adverse to human’s health.
So, if you are a tattoo addict, please consider that the more you ink your body, the higher the dose of heavy metals running through your bloodstream.
It is recommended to buy from brands that openly declare what they have in their ink. Even at that, ensure they use purely organic components in their products.
It is good to find more information about including heavy metals in tattoo inks to give you peace of mind.
The best tattoo ink brands have a variety of colors to choose from. Thus, you don’t have to buy just one color from one brand and look for other colors elsewhere.
Country of origin
Some countries have strict health laws and regulations regarding protecting people’s health, so something as sensitive as tattoo inks may have to be federally rated to make the market.
There have been numerous complaints about the authenticity of inks coming out of China, so you might want to stay away from that.
As with every other purchase, check the brand’s credibility before moving forward.
Compared to a start-up, it is better to go with established brands with a longstanding reputation and social proof behind them.
We are not saying that start-ups are not suitable for competition, but only choose them when you know what they are doing.
Below we have listed a few good brands to select from.
Best tattoo ink for beginners
The best tattoo ink for beginners is not the one that is less expensive or easiest to find.
Some top brands offer affordable packages for you to practice to make life easier as a rookie.
You can always consider buying cheap ones from China if you have a very tight budget.
You already know they can be harmful to humans, right?….but,
As you need to get experience and the feeling of tattooing, buying a practice kit with fake skin (pig would be great) would be the go.
PLEASE DO NOT USE POOR-QUALITY INK ON PEOPLE SKIN…NO ONE LIKES DODGY TATTOO ARTISTS.
Vegan tattoo ink
Some of your customers will prefer vegan-friendly options, so having a stack of them is not a bad idea.
Fortunately, some good brands are doing a great job with non-animal-based ingredients in their inks. You will find this in our list further below.
Don’t worry; it is known that they perform well too.
The Top 10 Tattoo Ink Brands to Buy From
Now that you know what to look out for – which is also what we would keep in mind when shopping for the best tattoo ink – here are the brands that catch our fancy:
This brand has been here for almost fifty (50) years now. They must be doing something right to have lasted this long in the market.
Intenze is so sure of their inks that they back them up with a money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied.
Seeing the bright and intense colors you get from them, we don’t know why you would ever need your money back.
Also selling one of the best black tattoo inks on the market, it is little wonder why they are the first on our list.
This Japanese company is named after an elite Japanese warrior force of the same name, distinguished by the markings on their body.
It is believed that these warriors don’t die but live on forever. It is, thus, understandable that the company makes these inks to last forever on your skin also.
Their concept is quite interesting. I hope that my tattoos won’t fade over time. If a brand can offer me this, I would get them.
The inks are made from the best and most organic ingredients that the company can find.
You cannot go wrong with this brand by offering vegan options at affordable prices.
The name is a little misleading. We can assure you, though, that this does not mean the brand is for moms alone.
Any tattoo artist who cares about the flow and consistency of their ink and the final output of the job should try this ink brand out at least once.
From when they started with just a few color options, this brand now has almost a hundred shades available.
This allows them to ship some unique tattoo ink colors you will come across.
A bold name for a tattoo ink brand. Fortunately, they are all bark and no bite.
Bloodline excels in making the tattoo shiny after it scabs and fully heals.
Made in the USA, there is a higher level of quality and adherence to health and safety standards.
The brand started in 1995, and they have come a long way in the market since then.
According to plenty of enthusiasts, they remain the best tattoo ink for beginners and professionals alike.
StarBrite ticks all the right boxes.
They have been around since 1990, carry as many as 160 unique shades in their range, and have been certified by the FDA.
The brand aims to create inks that are as consistent as smooth.
They know that the work of any good artist is challenging in itself, so they aim to make that easier with their choice of ink.
Promised to last forever, claims have also been made that the tattoo ink ingredients help to heal the skin faster.
Where every other tattoo ink brand focuses on creating a lot of colors, Radiant is more focused on helping you to bring your artistic side even more.
They have an ink set with only seven primary colors and a ball bearing for mixing the hues.
Any true artist knows they can create different shades and multiple unique colors when they access the primary ones.
On top of that, Radiant also boasts 100% organic manufacturing materials and mouth-watering affordability to match.
They back up their claim with a promise of totally vegan products.
They have been around since the 1980s, so they know what they are talking about.
Eternal Ink has stood out over time because it makes ink feel tremendous and works with tattoo artists to know what they need best.
Coming out of Germany, Solid Ink is also certified by the EU laws around health and safety.
Their unique selling point is in super concentrating their inks to have high-intensity levels.
We guess they were not joking when they chose their names then.
With such a model, it is sure that their inks will last longer than average picks and take a long time to start washing off.
We have seen brands that make from tens to hundreds of different shades, but how about a brand that only focuses on black?
That puts Obsidian ink on every list of the best black tattoo ink on the market.
As the name implies, this UK brand has dedicated its resources to make different shades of black ink for tattoo artists worldwide.
They have enjoyed over 20 years of experience doing so and will be here for many more years.
Not every day, we find a tattoo ink company started by true tattoo artists.
The story of Nocturnal Ink is even more interesting than we think.
This is because its founders tested it for two (2) years before its release to the market.
This says a lot about the quality of the inks. I wonder how many tests were done before knowing which ingredients were safe to use on people?
The company was born out of the need to create specialized tattoo inks.
Something like matching the quality of what was in vogue while maintaining a darker, smoother, and more even shade.
After years of formulation and tests, that is what the cofounders (Franco Vescovi and Jack Rudy) achieved.
Best Tattoo Ink Wrap up
Tattoo artists have the responsibility to use safe inks with known ingredients.
By contrast, clients should ask their artist what inks are used and, if so, the components. Of course, this is a must if you are into the vegan world.
As you have seen, the market is full of alternatives. The most well-known brands are located in Europe and the USA.
But as the demand is high, mass-producing inks is also done in other parts of the world.
All in all, don’t be cheap; the same way you want to have the best tattoo machine, you should always source the best tattoo ink when working on human skin.