Is tattoo ink vegan?

Tattoos have come a long way since their underground days. Often associated with various subcultures over the last century, Smithsonian notes that historically they actually date back over 5,000 years (at least) to the Copper Age (via History). In recent times, tattoos have become more mainstream, and today, with the rise of laser removal services and celebrity tattoo addicts like Kat Von D, the amount of people committing to ink continues to grow. From trendy, tiny, minimalist tattoo designs to big bold colored graphics, tribal styles, and meaningful sayings, tattoos are everywhere. And we can't help but wonder (especially since veganism is also becoming more popular), is tattoo ink vegan?

According to PETA, the largest animal rights organization in the world, not all tattoo ink is vegan. "Nonvegan varieties may contain bone char, glycerin from animal fat, gelatin from hooves, or shellac from beetles," they state. While this may be surprising for some, it's more common than you think.

What are the best vegan tattoo ink brands?

To ensure your tattoo artist uses vegan tattoo ink, take your time to thoroughly research each studio and reach out to those in your local area to see what they use. Feel free to ask your preferred tattoo artist exactly what brand of ink they use, and don't be afraid to ask if they can order in vegan ink for you if they don't already use it. PETA recommends animal-friendly tattoo ink brands like Eternal, StarBrite, SkinCandy, and Stable Color.

When it comes to aftercare, The Vegan Society warns that animal-derived glycerine can be found in a variety of soaps and balms, particularly those targeted at owners of fresh ink. PETA agrees, noting that some razors used in-house at tattoo studios and salons may have a gel strip made from glycerin, too. It's advised that you take along your own razor to be extra safe and help make your experience as stress-free as possible.

Happy (vegan) inking!