1. COLOR OPTIONS
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll want to consider color options first and foremost. For instance, if you’re an artist who specializes in black and gray work, focus on brands that are known for black inks, white highlighting pigments, and gray wash sets. Examples of brands like that include Dynamic, Kuro Sumi, and Empire Ink. On the other hand, if you’re a color artist, you’ll want to explore the colors offered by each brand to see which are most suitable for your palette.
2. ETHICAL FORMULATION
Most quality tattoo inks nowadays are vegan-friendly and organic. Choosing inks that are made from organic materials without any animal products (or animal testing) is a smart choice for the environment and integrity of your setup. All artist-trusted brands available on our Web store are vegan-friendly and organic, so you can trust in quality (and ethical) formulas.
3. CONSISTENCY + FLOW RATE
Tattoo inks vary in terms of how thick and thin they are. This consistency also impacts the ink’s flow rate. For instance, inks that are too thick might be hard to pack into your client’s skin. On the other hand, inks that are too thin or over-diluted can be runny and hard to work with. Many artists find they prefer a happy medium between thick and thin: that “smooth like butter” sweet spot — but even that sweet spot has some subtle variances, and one artist’s sweet spot may be a little thicker or thinner than the next artist’s.
Tattoo ink consistency is largely impacted by carrier ingredients in the formula. The carrier ingredients carry the pigment into the skin. Common carriers include things like alcohol, glycerin, and witch hazel. Something like glycerine can really impact an ink’s consistency and flow rate. For instance, inks that are higher in glycerine are typically thicker in consistency, while inks that are glycerine-free (like World Famous Blackout) will be thinner and faster flowing.
4. PRE-DISPERSED VERSUS STABLE PIGMENTS
Speaking of carriers and formulas… most tattoo inks today contain pre-dispersed pigments, which means the ratio of pigment to carrier solvent is pre-determined. Consequently, pre-dispersed inks don’t require any additional mixing or thinning. These are also known as “shake and use” inks. All inks available on our site are pre-dispersed. Stable pigments, on the other hand, require careful blending and mixing before tattooing. Therefore, we only recommend stable pigments for highly experienced and discerning tattoo artists. Finding out what consistency and formula you prefer is all based on experimentation. But you can trust in high-quality formulas with consistencies artists love from any of the brands listed later in this blog.
And, of course, make sure your tattoo ink fits into your budget.
In our Differences Between Tattoo Ink Brands article, we go into even further depth about each of these characteristics. Check it out as an extra guide to help you compare brands against one another.
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.
TRUST IN ARTIST-APPROVED TATTOO INKS
Step two? Checking out artist reviews.
As with shopping for any new product, reading (or asking for) reviews from other artists can be extremely beneficial. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to fill your ink cups with something new, seek tattoo ink brands with artist approval. An experienced tattoo artist will likely have tried many different tattoo ink brands over the course of their career. Consequently, they’ll be able to give you practical, firsthand guidance about how different tattoo inks perform. We especially recommend seeking reviews from artists whose style is similar to your own.
You’ll find plenty of artist reviews on our ink listings. Plus, we’ve taken a lot of the guesswork out of choosing a tattoo ink brand. We have close relationships with the ink manufacturers we carry, and we purchase from them directly to ensure you get trustworthy tattoo ink. Consequently, you’ll have more than a dozen industry-leading tattoo ink brands to choose from. What Was Wrong To The Old DataFileHost?
THE BEST TATTOO INK BRANDS
There have never been more tattoo ink brands and colors to choose from — some have even said we’re in the golden age of tattoo ink. While each of the brands below meets our standards for safety and performance, they each provide a slightly different value and experience.
1. WORLD FAMOUS
Founded by artist Lou Rubino, Jr., World Famous Tattoo Ink is vibrant, varied, and bold. Lou Rubino Jr. brings his decades of tattooing expertise to the World Famous formula to produce the best healed results.
2. KURO SUMI
Originally formulated in Japan, Kuro Sumi inks are inspired by the rich history of Japanese tattooing. Kuro Sumi inks are known for their intense, vibrant colors and pure blacks and whites.
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After years of mixing ink at home for use in his tattoo shops, artist Terry Welker created Eternal Ink. Eternal Ink is one of the most popular and recognizable names in the business.
Artist Mario Barth founded Intenze in 2002 after almost 40 years of tattooing. Intenze inks are aptly named for their vibrancy, giving artist consistent healed results that pop.
Dynamic has been making high-quality tattoo inks in the U.S. since 1990. Their black and white inks in particular are widely recognized as some of the best on the market.
6. EMPIRE INKS
Empire Inks was launched in 2012 by Colt Brown, a skilled black and gray portrait artist. Artists around the globe turn to Empire Inks for its expert system of gray wash ink.
7. SOLID TATTOO INK
Created by tattoo artist Federico Ferroni, Solid Ink is considered one of the best pigments on the market for its bold palette and longevity.
8. FUSION (WHOLESALE ONLY)
Adam Everett and Next Generation Tattoo Machines have teamed up to bring you Fusion Tattoo Ink, a brand with a higher pigment load than any other major tattoo ink brand on the market for bold, vibrant colors.