Vegan Tattoo - How to Make an Ethical Tattoo

01 / 11 / 2023 Nikita Balaba
Vegan Tattoo - How to Make an Ethical Tattoo

A vegan lifestyle involves not only avoiding animal products in food but also in other areas of life, from clothing to personal hygiene. Tattoos should also adhere to these principles. We explain how to check everything and make a tattoo without animal products.

A vegan tattoo is not a tattoo with an image of an animal or the word "vegan." No animal products should be used in a vegan tattoo, not only in the ink but also in other consumables, including products that should be used before the tattoo is applied.


First and foremost, pay attention to the ink. It often contains glycerin, bone charcoal, gelatin, or shellac, all of which are animal products. They are produced from animal fat, bones, or secretions. The use of such products makes the ink more durable and less likely to fade. This is especially true for black pigment, which often contains soot produced from animal bones.

Despite this, most popular ink brands produce pigments that do not contain animal products. In these inks, they are replaced with plant-based products or metals.

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Transfer paper

Transfer paper is used to transfer the image to the skin. It often contains lanolin, a wax obtained by boiling sheep's wool.

However, manufacturers have also taken care of their customers and created transfer paper that uses wax based on plant-derived lanolin, with castor oil and olive oil as the raw materials.


Before the session, the area where the tattoo will be applied should always be shaved. The smoother the skin, the easier it is for the artist to work because the ink will adhere better. If the client has not removed the hair before going to the tattoo salon, a disposable razor is provided before the session.

Most often, razors use animal-derived glycerin, which is applied to a moisturizing strip. You can use a razor without such a strip or remove hair in advance, for example, with an electric razor or a sugaring procedure, which uses exclusively plant-based components. However, after such procedures, the skin should not be irritated or reddened, so it is important to give it time to calm down before the session.

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During the tattoo application process, an antibacterial soap is used to clean the area, so it's important that the soap is vegan as well. Ask your tattoo artist to use a vegetable glycerin soap or arrange to bring your own.

Vegan tattoo care

You can buy tattoo care products yourself or at the salon where you got your tattoo. It's important to check each product before purchasing, as they may contain animal-derived ingredients.

Most artists use a special film to heal small tattoos, which should also be made from plant-based materials. For larger tattoos, artists usually recommend using bandages and soap to heal, so each product needs to be checked individually. For example, it's worth paying attention to children's soap as it often consists only of plant-based ingredients.

Questions for your tattoo artist

Веганская татуировка — как сделать этичную татуировку

Before your session, discuss with your tattoo artist what materials they use and if they are suitable for you. Here is an approximate list of questions:

What pigments do they use? If the pigments are not vegan, can they use vegan pigments instead?

What transfer paper do they use, and can they use vegan transfer paper, or do they tattoo freehand?

Do they have razors that don't use animal glycerin?

Can they use soap and disinfection solutions without animal glycerin?


Make a list of brands that do not use animals to produce their products and use only those. Check with your tattoo artist about what they use for work. If something doesn't suit you, ask them to replace the supply or arrange to bring your own. If you come across an unfamiliar company, read the ingredients to make sure they align with your lifestyle.

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