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The Best Tattoo Ink on the Market 2021

The 5 tattoo artists on the InkedWay editorial team with a collective 20+ years of tattooing experience have prepared for you a list of the best tattoo inks available on the market. This is more than just a subjective ranking, it's a search for the best all-around choice that will work for all tattoo artists. We have tested and reviewed over 40 brands to come up with this review of the best quality tattoo inks to use and buy.
Updated March 30, 2021

This review is based on the following criteria:

  • Ingredients: you will not find any inks that contain chlorine, bromine, and iodine (can cause skin irritations and malignancies); azo dyes and aromatic amines (carcinogenic), heavy metals (lead, arsenic, etc. can cause serious skin irritations) in this list
  • Quality of tattoos made with these inks (including tattoos that are several years old)
  • Manufacturer's reliability
  • Maximum consistency of color in the manufacturer's photo and the actual ink color
  • Speed and easy healing
  • Smooth inking under the skin

Please check before buying! How to avoid buying fakes?

Intenze Color Tattoo Ink
The Best Brand of Tattoo Ink

The Intenze brand has become the leader of this TOP because it combines the high quality of manufactured products, a huge color range, and maximum quality of ALL shades of tattoo ink, both for colored and black and white tattoos. Born in the early noughties, Intenze was the first to provide complete information about the composition of the inks. What the company pursued was the task of inventing inks that would be suitable for everyone without exception. As a result of extensive testing, they succeeded - so that you, like your customers, can enjoy the results of your work every day!

The brand's pigments are designed to meet the highest standards of quality and safety. Intenze has special markings to distinguish the original from the fake, as well as seals and protective films to make sure that no one has opened the bottle before you (be vigilant!).

User Experience

This set contains all the shades you need for tattoos of any complexity. The 54 bottles of 1oz provide you with a very wide range of colors, giving you the freedom to create a variety of sketches. Moreover, they mix perfectly with each other, so you will get exactly the shade you want, even if for some reason it is not in your palette.

The pigment is inked comfortably and from the first time. Excellent healing, no allergic reactions on the skin, and color maintainability after healing guarantee your client's satisfaction with the result. Each bottle of Intenze is sterilized, and the pigment production is so sterile that it meets cosmetic health standards. All supporting documentation is available on the brand's website.

Ink has an expiration date, for sure. Although the bottle usually runs out faster than it expires, especially popular colors like black, gray, white, and red, some little-used colors can still go bad before you have time to use them up. This is the only nuance to consider when buying. But even that depends on the intensity of your business.

As one of the best pigments in the world, Intenze pigments are ideal for beginners and professionals alike. Remember that customers deserve first-class materials. So when working with Intenze ink, you risk neither their health nor your own reputation.

Pros
  • Huge color palette
  • More color complexity
  • Vivid colors
  • Good to ink under the skin
  • Thick and easy to work with
  • Ideal for beginners and professionals
  • 100% Vegan-friendly
  • Quick and easy healing
  • Doesn't drip
  • Slow consumption
  • 100% safe and sterile
Cons
  • Short shelf life

Best Black Tattoo Ink

Those who create blackwork, dotwork, ornamental and tribal styles are always on the lookout for the "perfect black”. While for blackwork and tribal you can use ink that is slightly blurry and thick, for dotwork you can't do that, you need clarity and precision pixel. After testing all black pigments, we suggest you try out a few of the inks described below.

Dynamic Black
Best Black Tattoo Ink

Dynamic Black is the best quality black tattoo ink to use and a solid black pigment for clear and even lines. It is a liquid ink that does not leave any drips. It is time tested and will suit both professionals and beginners (beginners are even better to learn with a good product from the beginning).

User Experience

The ink uses up slowly. When covering black areas, the pigment is applied evenly. There is no need to "circle" in one area for a long time to get dense coverage. Lines and small details are also great - clear, thin, not blurred and not get denser over time.

The healing process is also quick and painless. No allergic reactions to this ink have been found. After healing, the pigment also remains as black as possible, without color changes, lightening, etc.

The manufacturer mentions that this technique is also good for the greywash technique. By the way, Dynamic White is also considered one of the best white tattoo inks, so you can buy a set of these inks to create amazing grey wash tattoos. The ink is ideal for all tattooing styles and techniques, but among other things it can be called the best tattoo ink for tribal.

Minimal cost is one of the many advantages that will appeal to any tattoo artist.

Pros
  • Leaves no smudges
  • Remains black for a long time
  • Smoothly disperses during tattooing
  • Lines are also sharp
  • No allergic reactions found
  • Easy to ink under the skin
  • Exceptional ease of work
  • No trouble during the healing process
  • Slow consumption
  • Reasonable price
  • Sold in various sizes
Cons
  • It can be hard to wash off the body

Beware of fakes: if the ink costs less than the manufacturer's price - it is NOT the original!

Nocturnal Lining
& Shading Black

This brand was founded by two tattoo artists, one of whom is Franco Vescovi, the creator of the Bishop tattoo machine. Nocturnal pigment goes on quickly, smoothly and has a rich dark color. The composition of Nocturnal tattoo ink can be considered a reference because it does not contain heavy chemical solvents.

User Experience

With the same fluidity as other premium inks, Nocturnal Lining & Shading has a much deeper black color and allows you to create perfectly smooth and even shadows. This pigment is used for any type of line, solid black shading, and grey wash techniques.

The result of using this brand will pleasantly surprise you, it is very smooth on the skin and looks very dark. Nocturnal Lining and Shading is the easiest-using pigment for black and white tattoos. Moreover, it is the best formula for black pigment on a molecular level.

Nocturnal will look even more expressive after the healing. Your client will definitely be satisfied!

Pros
  • Heals quickly and easily
  • Remains color well
  • Does not drip
  • Easy to get under the skin
  • Never had a skin reaction
  • Smooth dispersion during tattooing
  • Suitable for all tattooing techniques (lining, shading, grey wash)
  • Sold in different sizes
Cons
  • Price just above average
  • Easily soiled

Beware of fakes: if the ink costs less than the manufacturer's price - it is NOT the original!

Best Color Tattoo Inks

Eternal Tattoo Ink Set
The Best Tattoo Ink Set

Eternal is one of the best inks for tattoos today. The complete absence of acrylic, other chemical impurities and animal products in its composition makes it completely organic and usable for the absolute majority of tattoo artists. The brand produces more than 150 different shades and colors that will satisfy any working with colors tattoo artist. This set is an excellent example of a pack of the most versatile and necessary pigments for any tattooist.

User Experience

The set includes 60 different colors. While the black, we would recommend buying more, it is always in short supply even for artists who work in color, the other colors are perfectly matched, are universal and most used, as well as very closely match what you see in the bottles.

Using the Eternal, you will soon notice that it is highly pigmented. This saves material and the tattooist's time due to the lower number of runs over the skin. The bonus is the client's minimal soreness and traumatizing during the procedure.

The Eternal ink is relatively thick, but not too liquid, which makes it comfortable to work with. The color rendering of these pigments is outstanding, which is why they are used by the best artists in the world! Perhaps the ink consistency will be uncomfortable at first, but that rather depends on experience. This product is highly recommended for purchase, because of the good quality pigments this one offers the best value for its money.

Pros
  • Bright colors
  • 100% Vegan Safe
  • Heals well
  • Good value for money
  • Low consumption
  • Same color as in the bottle
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Incredible color palette
Cons
  • You may need time to get used to the consistency

Millennium Moms Tattoo Ink Set
Best Cheap Tattoo Ink

Millennium Mom's Ink is the world's first homogenized, mineral-based tattoo ink. Millennium Mom's tattoo ink is the best option for both pros and beginners, with a homogeneous consistency, balanced composition, and at an affordable price. These pigments are considered ideal for conveying all the splendor of New School, Old School style tattoos.

User Experience

The color palette includes more than 40 shades, which is enough even for the experienced tattooist. This Millennium Mom's sets are very easy to store. A large number of colors allows you to use the ink more slowly, respectively, it is important that the shelf life of these pigments was long. These tattoo inks can be bought in store because even with prolonged storage their structure is preserved, the diluent does not peel from pigments and auxiliaries.

Another interesting advantage is that you don't have to shake and stir them before you start. This saves a little time and takes the extra process off of you.

The ink is easy to use, the colors are bright and pigmented. The skin recovers quickly, there is almost no irritation in the epidermis structure.

A wide variety of gorgeous bright colors - test them all for yourself!

Pros
  • The best price for excellent quality
  • Convenient consistency
  • Homogeneous and no residue
  • Thick, even, bright pigmentation
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Long shelf life
  • Wide variety of colors available for purchase
Cons
  • Easily soiled
  • Bottles can leak

The next related products would also be a useful addition to this kit:

World Famous Tattoo Ink
Best for Professionals

Tattoo artists of international fame create their masterpieces with tattoo inks of this manufacturer. By choosing this brand of tattoo ink, you will improve the quality of your work, making it more contrasting, powerful, bold and vibrant than ever before. This is exactly what World Famous Ink's world-class pigments are known for. There are a very large palette of colors and many different sets designed by different famous tattooists.

User Experience

The ink is well packaged, which compared to other manufacturers is a significant advantage. Convenient tubes with a good opening and closing lid. The colors are bright and juicy. The palette is large and varied. This set is from the pro series, it consists of juicy and soft color pigments, there are no standard black, white and gray pigments in it.

The ink consistency is thick and dense, which makes the tattoo clearer. Before use, it should be shaken well so that it becomes more homogeneous. The pigment is well inked under the skin and applies densely and well. Tattoos look juicy and neat after healing. No allergies or rashes were noticed as a result of many years of working with this manufacturer. No major discoloration after healing has been noticed too.

The only con is probably the price, but it's not a problem. If you understand the value of quality materials, you will not skimp on them.

This product is highly recommended to all tattoo artists, it is especially preferred by professionals, but it is also suitable for beginners!

Pros
  • Lots of colors
  • Good, comfortable consistency
  • Tattoos look juicy and neat after healing
  • Easy and densely to ink under the skin
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Best brightness
  • Safe on skin
  • Convenient bottles
  • EU approved
Cons
  • Price is a little higher than average

NBK Fire Red Set
Best Red Tattoo Ink

This is one more cool set from World Famous. This time it's the perfect combination of 4 juicy red shades for deep, rich and versatile tattoos. It's perfect for both trash polka tattoos and other colored styles.

The set consists of different brightness and shades of reds, including bright red, smoldering dark or fiery red. This variety of shades will help you achieve even better results in your work. The perfect set for red designs with a gradation of shades!

Pros
  • Good, comfortable consistency
  • Tattoos look juicy and neat after healing
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Easy and densely to get under the skin
  • Best brightness
  • Safe on skin
  • Convenient bottles
  • EU approved
Cons
  • Price is a little higher than average

Kuro Sumi Colors Set of 7 Best Sellers
Best Value

One of the best basic tattoo ink sets for its price is this set from the Japanese brand Kuro Sumi, which consists of 7 basic colors. This kit has a good quality black pigment (the company produces one of the best black pigments), white, and the most used and popular blue, green, yellow, red, and orange colors.

User Experience

This one set is unlikely to be enough to work fully in color tattooing, but it is the basic set to which the necessary colors can already be purchased separately.

The first thing worth mentioning is the stunning contrasts in the color range. The pigments really have a very good color rendering and look bright enough on the skin. They remain bright even over time, i.e. no changes, fading or lightening of colors has ever been observed in practice. They also heal without allergic and other reactions on the skin and fairly quickly.

Once opened, bottles often leak, so we recommend stocking up on empty bottles so you can immediately pour the liquid into another container. This will be safer and save your purchase for sure.

Pros
  • Long-lasting bright
  • Good quality-price ratio
  • Fast healing, no allergies or other reactions
  • 100% Vegan
  • Good pigmentation
  • Versatile colors
Cons
  • Leaking bottles
  • Thicker than ordinary tattoo pigments

Best Tattoo Ink – Buyer’s Guide

What do tattoo inks consist of and which manufacturer should I choose? Let's get into the details.

Tattoo ink components:

Black
This is the most popular pigment, as it serves as the base for any pattern. It is created from soot derived from animal bones, rust, as well as tar, tree resin and campesian extract. The vast majority of black inks are made from these components because they provide excellent quality and safety.
White
It is based on lead carbonate, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Red
This is the second most popular color. It includes cinnabar, cadmium selenide or mercury sulfide. Microdoses of these elements are generally safe for the human body.
Yellow
It is based on cadmium sulfide, turmeric, and some inorganic substances. They are also not very safe, but given the small proportion of yellow colors in tattoos, they are usually not able to have a harmful effect.
Blue
It contains cobalt.
Brown
Iron oxide, clay, yellow ochre. Quite a safe pigment.

Criteria for choosing the right tattoo pigment

  • The style of tattoo you practice. Inks for tattoos should be chosen depending on the type of tattoos you're practicing. Obviously, if you do black and white tattoo styles, such as chicano, blackwork, tribal, etc. you need good, dense black pigment. We would advise for such purposes to buy the ink from a brand that specializes in producing only black ink, such as Nocturnal. You will need colored inks for new school styles, old school, watercolor, illustration, realism, etc. The best brands of color pigments are Intenze, World Famous, Eternal, Millenium Mom's. Also worth pointing out is the red inks for trash polka from World Famous.
  • Composition. As already noted, the different colors of the inks differ in their active components and they actually create color. Depending on the ink composition they are organic (that is, the components are extracted from the natural environment) and inorganic (components extracted chemically). To date, most pigments and components on the market - are organic. Nevertheless, check the composition indicated on each bottle of tattoo ink for the presence of harmful and hazardous substances.
  • How the color performs over time. It may be harder to check than other factors, but try to make sure that the ink doesn't fade too quickly, doesn't blur, or change color after healing. The best way to check this is to look at the artworks of popular tattoo artists, who publicly talk about what inks they use. By the way, you won't find any product recommendations in this list that don't live up to these requirements.
  • Brand. Avoid choosing no-name manufacturers, because you can't know for sure what is in their product. Trust the companies time-proven and tested by famous tattoo artists with real buyers' and your colleagues' reviews.
  • Cost. Using professional inks for tattoos produced by reputable manufacturers, the tattoo artist may have more financial expenses, but he/she is insured against all client's claims about fading, blurring of borders of the image, and its distortion over time. How much such inks for a tattoo cost? More expensive than the unknown manufacturers' products. But having once received bright colors, and having worked with an extensive palette, and having seen the effectiveness of his labors, no tattooist will not work with cheap inks anymore.

Most importantly — never buy "replicas", fakes and simply cheap tattoo inks of shady manufacturers. Remember that the tattoo ink quality affects not only the result, but also the client's health and well-being.

For vegans

According to The Vegan Society, the entire tattooing process is marred by animal products. Non-vegan black ink is made from charred, shredded and degreased animal bones, which are believed to give the ink its deepest rich black color. They may also contain glycerin or animal gelatin as a stabilizer.

While most mainstream tattoo pigments contain animal ingredients, there are some inks on the market that are suitable for vegans. One must understand that any claims by manufacturers that "vegan inks are healthier and safer for the human body than conventional inks" are not proven by any research. Vegan inks are simply a way of doing something good for animals. These vegan inks contain plant-based products and inorganic chemicals. Likewise, you should check the composition of such products.

FAQ

What is the best brand of tattoo ink to use?

There are few best brands of tattoo ink to use:

  • World
  • Famous
  • Intenze
  • Eternal
  • Dynamic

These manufacturers' palettes offer a huge color and shade range that can be used to create full-color, almost photographic images. These inks are good both for applying the smallest details with fine tracings, and for extensive fillings in the work "by area". Most importantly is that modern compositions are harmless to the body, do not cause allergic reactions (inert) and do not fade over time.

What is the best tattoo ink to use?

The one that's perfect for you. Quality, original, made by a verified manufacturer. We would recommend choosing one from our list in this article.

How deep does tattoo ink go?

The depth of the needle penetration is on average 1.5-2 mm. If the pigment does not enter deep enough into the skin, it will leave a barely noticeable mark or will simply blur and be faded. At the same time, too deep penetration under the dermis leads to too difficult, problematic and painful healing, which also negatively affects the quality of the tattoo.

How to make tattoo ink stay in the skin?

Unfortunately, colored tattoos are bound to lose their intensity if they are not taken care of from the beginning. We recommend immediately after the session, to lead as healthy a life as possible, because during the rehabilitation period the body's immunity drops and it needs strength to recover. Also, try to refrain from drinking alcohol. To keep the color of the tattoo as long as possible avoid exposure to direct sunlight and protect the tattoo with the right creams.

Can I make my own tattoo ink?

No! You will never be able to achieve the necessary sterility of the production conditions to create safe tattoo ink at home. Remember, you are responsible for the health of your client! The more so, the manufacturers have already done everything for you.

FINAL WORDS

It is difficult to say for 100% sure what's the best tattoo ink for all tattoo artists in the world, all levels and styles of tattooing. There is no one unambiguous answer to this question. But there are recommendations for choice, and this abbreviated list of the best tattoo inks, among which it is already much easier to choose.

Write down what you think of these brands and if you've had experience using them, and which one you think is the best tattoo ink to use!