Ingredients in Tattoo Ink

tattoo ink

There are various pigments and carriers used in tattoo ink. These are mixed together to produce the various colours and shades used in tattooing. The pigment part in tattoo ink gives it its colour while the carrier solution contains the pigment or “carries” the pigment. The common carriers used are ethyl alcohol, water, methanol, propylene glycol, and glycerine.

Tattoo pigments vary depending on the color. The old pigments came from using carbon black and ground up minerals. Modern pigments contain vegetable dyes, mineral pigments, plastic based pigments, and metal salts but these cannot still be considered absolutely harmless.

Black pigment is the most common colour of tattoo ink. This typically consists of cobalt aluminate, magnetite crystals, bone black, iron oxide, carbon, and logwood. Titanium dioxide is used for white pigments. It may be used alone or can be used to dilute the concentration of other pigments.

Brown pigment comes from ferric oxide. Blue dyes contain cobalt, sodium, or aluminum. The copper based blue pigments are considered safer. Green pigments, on the other hand, often contain ferric ferrocyanide with potassium ferrocyanide. This mixture produces the green hue. Violet or purple pigments come from manganese and aluminum.

The red pigments are derived from cinnabar or mercuric sulfide, sandalwood, azo compounds, and sienna or ferric hydrate. Napthol reds are said to produce fewer reactions. However, all reds carry the risk or allergy. Orange is formed from monoazo pigment molecules. Cadmium sulfide is made to produce yellow colour.

Although current pigments used in tattoo ink are made safer, there can still be adverse reactions. The most common is an allergic sensitivity to one or more of the pigments. As mentioned earlier, the reds are most likely to produce hypersensitivity reactions. In the yellow pigments, the most common are photo aggravated reactions, leading to swelling redness when exposed to sunlight. Unfavorable reactions are less common in blue, green, and black pigments.

Because there is no regulation on tattoo ink and tattoo pigments, make sure to know the ingredients that will be used when you get a tattoo. Most tattoo ink manufacturers would list the information and you can discuss this with the tattoo artist ahead of time.