As a new tattoo artist getting started, or even as an established artist looking to make a change, how do you choose the best tattoo ink brand for you and your clients?   There are many great tattoo ink brands on the market today, and on the surface, they all might seem comparable. But if you take a closer look and start experimenting with them, you’ll find subtle differences. Before you spend a fortune buying and testing dozens of different inks, here are some basic tattoo ink characteristics you should consider as you try to find the best tattoo ink brands for you.


There are a lot of choices when it comes to tattoo ink on the market these days. When trying to decide which brands are the best for you and your needs, here are five primary characteristics you can use to evaluate and differentiate between tattoo ink brands.

  • Country of manufacture: Where the ink was produced will give you an idea of the safety and quality control standards observed by the manufacturer.
  • Vegan-friendliness: Vegan tattoo inks are those that contain no animal-derived glycerins or pigments and were never tested on animals.
  • Organic or inorganic: Organic tattoo inks contain only carbon-based pigments that were derived from living sources such as plants, insects or other animals. Inorganic inks contain non-carbon pigments derived from mineral sources such as iron ore.
  • Pre-dispersed or stable pigment: Most tattoo inks today contain pre-dispersed pigments, which means the ratio of pigment to carrier solvent is predetermined and requires no additional mixing or thinning before use. These are also known as “shake and use” inks. Stable pigments, on the other hand, provide skilled artists with greater control over color but require careful blending and mixing before they can be used.
  • Price: It’s not as complicated as the other criteria, but for some artists, it’s the most important.

If any of these qualities stand out as particularly important to you, take note. In our Differences Between Tattoo Ink Brands article, we go into even further depth about each of the characteristics to help you compare brands against one another based on the criteria that matter most to you.

While many of the top tattoo brands have some overlapping characteristics, that doesn’t mean they will provide the exact same color quality, color selection, and ink performance. Deciding which combination of characteristics you’re looking for is just the first step. The only way to know if a brand of ink is really the one you’re looking for is to get recommendations from other tattoo artists and to try them for yourself.

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One of the easiest ways to narrow down your choices is to seek recommendations from other tattoo artists, especially those whose style and work is similar to your own. An experienced tattoo artist will likely have tried many different tattoo ink brands over the course of their career and will be able to give you practical, firsthand guidance about how different inks perform.

Luckily for you, we’ve also taken a lot of the guesswork out of choosing a tattoo ink brand. We have close relationships with the manufacturers of the tattoo inks we carry, and we purchase from them directly to ensure that you get trustworthy, safe tattoo ink. Whatever tattoo ink brand you end up choosing, you can trust that you’ll be getting quality tattoo ink when you buy it from PainfulPleasures. Even so, you’ll still have more than a dozen industry-leading tattoo ink brands to choose from.

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