When you’re thinking of getting a new tattoo, I’m guessing the first question on your mind isn’t whether or not the ink has animal products in it. I mean, ink is ink... right?  

Well, we’ve done some digging and it turns out that many tattoo inks contains animal products. A lot of tattoo inks include bone char, glycerin from animal fat, gelatin from hooves and shellac from beetles. The majority of inks, unless clearly stated, we can assume are not vegan-friendly. If we delve further into the tattooing process as a whole, it turns out that it’s not only the ink vegans have to consider. Ointment, stencil paper, soap and razors can also contain animal products. It will also come as no surprise that if you’re looking outside of western society and into ancient tribes, tattooing tools include animal bone when following some culturally traditional methods.

With all that said, you can find vegan tattoo artists, studios and vegan-friendly products, you just need to know what you’re looking for.

Here are our top tips for vegans looking to get tatted…


Any tattooer worth their salt will be happy to provide you with information about the products and methods they use. Even if you are only provided with the brands they use, you can carry out your own further research into the products. Vegan inks tend to include vegetable glycerin and witch hazel (hamamelis or virginiana extract).


Look on the internet for specifically vegan-friendly tattooers and vegan tattoo parlours. This way, you know that the person creating your tattoo will be as conscientious about your wishes as you are. A quick Google search and a scout on a few websites or phonecalls should be all it takes to find a vegan tattoo studio near you. In England, check out Darkside, Santo Cuervo and VARA which are 3 tattoo studios that advertise as vegan. 

Know Your Brands

According to PETA, vegan brands include Eternal, StarBrite, SkinCandy, and Stable Color. Vegan Marketing adds Kuro Sumi to that list.

Kuro Sumi Vegan Ink

Double Check Black Inks

According to Vegan Markerting, some brands advertise their ink colours as vegan, but continue to put bone char in their black inks to make the pigmentation darker. Don’t just assume every product a brand is offering is vegan, even if they advertise a number of their products as vegan. You can find a long list of vegan ink companies here, but notice how they only specify a few companies that create vegan black ink. Always double check when it comes to black ink.

Be Prepared

Do your research into the tattoo artist, the studio and do your own research into the products they use to avoid being disappointed or misled. On the day of your tattoo, bring your own razor. This avoids the worry that an in-house razor may have glycerin in the gel strip.


Be aware that many tattoo aftercare products also contain lanolin (a fat from sheep and other wool-bearing animals) or beeswax. Find products that are marketed as cruelty-free and vegan. PETA suggests The Merry Hempsters Vegan Hemp Tattoo Balm, Black Cat Vitamin Infusion Serum, Ohana Organics Tattoo Butter, or even jojoba oil, olive oil, or shea butter. 
Ohana Organics Organic Vegan Tattoo Butter

All Tattoos Have Their Risks

Whether you opt for a vegan tattoo or otherwise, be aware that there are a number of inks that can cause allergic reactions, contain heavy metals, and other substances that you might not want in your body. It is also important to follow care instructions, especially during the healing process, to avoid disease and infection. Make sure you are aware of the risks, and get tattooed by a reputable artist after doing your research. The owner of Gristle Tattoo says, ”the tattooing and healing process is exactly the same,” for vegan tattoos, which is good to know.

Whether you’re an animal lover, a herbivorous human, or just curious about the process, we’re proud to create organic, sustainable, vegan streetwear to accompany your skin art. Find out more about our values here. 
January 21, 2021 — Sarah Rachel