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What’s in the Ink, Homes?

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Perhaps getting a tattoo all seems pretty simple to you.  I mean, aside from deciding what it is that you want tattooed and which tattooist to trust with the actual work, there’s not much else that might pose a challenge except maybe the cost and of course, depending on your threshold, the pain.

If however, you happen to follow the vegan lifestyle – that is, no animal products whatsoever in your diet or your life – then getting a tattoo can actually be quite challenging.  The problem?  Well, the problem lies with the ink.  Most tattoo artists don’t use vegan friendly ink and for someone who doesn’t want anything to do with animal bi-products or products, this can all be a little bit challenging.

Jason Wynn, a UA graduate and employee of Scapegoat Tattoo, an all-vegan tattoo parlor in Portland, Ore., said most tattoo ink is considered vegan, but there are certain colors that are by-products of animals.

“Black is a tough color because it is often derived either from burnt bones or from the resin of shellac bugs,” Wynn said.

He also pointed out that most tattoo parlors use soaps or ointments in the treatment of tattoos that contain animal by-products. Even if customers were able to use vegan-friendly ink, such as ink of the brand Starbrite, they would still have to be cautious about what to use to treat the tattoo.’

That problem has found its solution in Starbrite ink, a tattoo ink that is 100% vegan.  Or has it?  Some tattooists shy away from Starbrite, as it’s believed that Starbrite’s pigment quality is not the best that it can be.  Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but yet another problem that faces not only vegans but the customer in general is that when it comes to ink, there are no laws that force ink companies to list their ingredients on the bottle.  To me this seems kind of crazy, given that people can’t just be expected to blindly accept what is being manufactured and pumped into their flesh.

I’m sure all of this will change in the near future, with more and more demands from customers for ink that is animal friendly and from tattooists who want more accountability from their ink manufacturers with regards to the ingredients that are being used.  But for the time being, if this is the type of thing that you are concerned about, the best thing you can do is ask around until you find an artist who is using the ink that you want.  It might not be easy, but unfortunately it’s the only option you’ve got.

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