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How Modern Ink Has Made Tattoos Safer

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The aesthetic beauty of tattoos is loved and enjoyed by many. The fascinating world of tattoo ink has created a new community of like-minded people who use tattoos as a way to express themselves. But not everyone likes the idea of going through the pain just to get a tattoo.

It is not just the fear of needles, but people fear that the ink used can be harmful to the skin and body. It is true that red inks used in tattooing contain mercury, which is a harmful component, while other red colors may contain different heavy metals like iron oxide or cadmium. These metals give the tattoo its permanence, but there have been reports that they can cause scarring, eczema, and allergic reactions.

However, there are now a plethora of tattoo colorants and ink carriers designed and developed to formulate modern tattoo ink, which is free from any heavy metals.

So, how safe are they?

To help you out, we have created this post where we will discover the fascinating world of modern ink and explore the compounds and materials used to create the modern colors and shades that you see today. Above all, we also put light on the claim stating that modern ink has made tattoos safe. 

Let’s get started.

Photo by zach lee on Unsplash

What is Modern Ink made from?

Today, you will see a wide range of tattoo pigments being used to make up tattoo inks. People are becoming more aware of what is put into their bodies. Modern inks are now referred to as vegan tattoos or organic pigments. They are heavily used by tattoo artists and are considered safe.

Previously, tattoo ink was made from components like heavy metals, rust, charcoal, and even ink from the ballpoint pen.

According to research, modern ink uses more than 200 different types of additives and colorants. While many pigments are approved for cosmetic use, others may not be suitable for your body and skin.

Please note that not all inks are equal. Some may lead to tattoo allergies, while others are safe. There are two primary components that make a tattoo ink. They are:

        1. Colorant or Pigment Base

The pigment gives the tattoo its rich color. For instance, black ink pigments are manufactured using bone charcoal and soot.

        2. Ink Carriers

An ink carrier is a liquid base that is used to evenly distribute the colorant, preventing it from clumping. Basically, the ink carrier carries the colorant from the needle tip to the dermis. It also prevents the growth of pathogens in ink. Modern ink uses safe carriers like witch hazel, propylene glycol, Listerine, glycerin, ethyl alcohol, and distilled water.

Pigments Used in Tattoo Ink

Pigments or colorants are what give tattoos vivid colors. In earlier times, pigments were made from ground-up ash or carbon to create black ink. Soot from charred woods was also used to make the markings.

Although modern industrial organic inks are taking over the market, there are still some original mineral pigments. Depending on the color required, certain colorants are plastic-based or vegetable-based. The use of heavy metals in modern ink is controversial, but heavy metals are essential for making basic colors. The following are different pigments used in the modern tattoo ink. Different ones are used for creating different colors:

  • Barium for white
  • Iron for black, red, or brown
  • Copper for free or blue
  • Titanium for white
  • Aluminum for violet or green
  • Cobalt for blue
  • Chromium for green
  • Zinc for white or yellow
  • Nickel for black
  • Cadmium for yellow, orange, or red
  • Lead for white, green, or yellow
  • Mercury for red

In order to reduce the overall production costs, manufacturers blend heavy metal colorants with lightening agents, such as titanium or lead. Colorants are also made using other compounds like arsenic, sulfur, beryllium, antimony, and calcium.

While these are permanent pigments, they can be removed using laser tattoo removal. Now, the tattoo removal cost will depend on several factors, including the size of the tattoo, targeted area, and the type of tattoo the price is determined. Consult with an experienced doctor who has the facility, equipment, and expertise in removing tattoos.

Most people tend to opt for tattoo removal after realizing that getting a tattoo in the first place was a mistake. After all, it is a personal choice. Some get easily bored with their tats that they decide to remove them completely.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Are Vegan or Organic Tattoo Inks Safe?

 Yes, as compared to heavy metal pigments, vegan or organic inks are safe. But it doesn’t mean that organic inks don’t pose any threat to the human body. Overall, many of the toxic and chemical substances are absent from vegan inks. Some tattoo ink manufacturers combine trace amounts of heavy metals like titanium oxide in their organic inks to give the pigments a little more depth and character. 

In the past decade, ink manufacturers have transitioned from mineral-based inks to vegan ones. The majority of these pigments are carbon-based, but some also use azo pigments. Azo pigments contain a nitrogen group that accounts for most organic yellow, orange, and red pigments.

Vegan inks include the following ingredients:

  • Carbazole and dioxazine - purple pigment
  • Naphthol - red pigment
  • Aluminum and sodium - blue pigment
  • Monoazo, which is a carbon-based pigment - green pigment
  • Turmeric - yellow pigment
  • Titanium oxide - white
  • Logwood and carbon - black

There is a high demand for vegan tattoo ink because they are less harmful than mineral-based inks containing heavy metals. However, they can be costly. Always get your tattoo from a licensed tattoo studio and a certified tattoo artist. This ensures your safety. On Tattoos Wizard we help you find artists that use only vegan ink and then filter by city to make sure you find the vegan artist that fits you best.

If you're interesting in knowing more about Vegan tattoos, check out this article

Always assess the manufacturer, particularly what ingredients they use. You can read the label on ink bottles and research online on the most popular tattoo ink brands. Only choose a product of a trusted manufacturer. Some popular brands include Kuro Sumi, Crazyhorse, SkinCandy / Bloodline, Electric Ink USA, Eternal Ink, etc.

Getting a tattoo is a personal choice and for some, it is a calculated risk. So, if you really want to get a tattoo, only go with a quality tattoo studio.

This article was writen in collaboration with Removery - they are leading experts in the USA for laser tattoo removal and fading services in the world.