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Inks

Tattoo inks consisting of pigments and carriers are generally bought in bottles of pre-dispersed inks. They should be poured into small ink caps for single use with a customer and then the ink and its cap should be disposed of after the tattoo.

Choosing either black and grey or colour can be a difficult choice from some; it’s really down to personal taste. Both colour and black and grey can add depth, dimension and contrast to a tattoo. Colour often brings a vibrancy and life-like quality, however black and grey tattoos are generally completed faster than their colour equivalent. Colour work is generally perceived as more painful which has nothing to do with the ink but rather the length of tattoo time it requires.

If you’re unsure whether you want a tattoo to be full colour or black and grey keep in mind black and grey can be coloured at a later date but will leave your tattoo with a muted, pastel tone. There’s also the choice of using black and grey with areas of colour similar to the Japanese style which can give you the best of both worlds.

White Ink allows for very discreet tattoos and looks almost like a scar when healed. It is best suited for paler skin tones and in an area which doesn’t get a lot of sun exposure. There are limitations on what can be achieved solely with white ink – text, simple outlines and floral designs being most suited.

UV ink or black light ink causes great debate within the tattoo world. It’s an ink that heals almost invisible to the naked eye but appears to glow under black light. It must be applied in a dark room using a black light which can make the tattooing process more difficult. Risks of allergic reaction apply as with all tattoo ink however some people say there is a risk of carcinogenic properties and so it must be a personal choice for somebody following vast research if they wish to use UV ink or not.

Allergies can occur with tattoo inks but are rare. Artists should find a reputable brand of inks to use to minimise this risk. The majority of allergic reactions occur during the aftercare of the tattoo. Wheat germ or lanolin is present in the majority of lotions and creams, being for the primary causes of allergic reactions for the majority of people. Personally, I have never seen a reaction with black and grey ink but have seen an issue with colour, namely red ink from a brand I no longer use.

People often enquire about ink fading soon after being tattooed. The top layers of your skin will flake off during the healing process and with that will be some ink. As new skin layers grow over the ink it will appear similar to looking at a drawing through tracing paper in that the skin covers the area between the ink and the eye muting the colour slightly once your tattoo has healed.

Following your artists’ aftercare instructions to the letter will result in a vibrant and crisp tattoo which shouldn’t fade much at all. It’s imperative that sun block is used on your tattoo when it is freshly done (to protect the skin which is now sensitive to light from burning) and in the long term (to protect the vibrancy of your ink).

Vegan friendly inks are available on the market – ask your artist if that’s something that interests you.