Artistry takes time to acquire, but the best tattoo ink is available for professionals and amateurs alike. Whether you’re inking a sweeping masterpiece or tiny details, creating permanent art on the skin is no trivial enterprise. You need the very best tools at your disposal, from numbing creams to quality tattoo lotions—but especially killer tattoo ink.
There are plenty of good ink companies out there, but industry leaders take special care in producing bright, consistent pigments that are easy to use. They easily absorb into the skin and heal just as beautifully. The best tattoo ink is cruelty-free, vegan, and organic. This is crucial: if it’s going into your body, it must reach—and consistently hit—the highest standards.
I think it’s safe to say the best tattoo ink brands are all pretty similar, with slight variations in expertise. Some make the richest black, the best white, or killer pastels, while others are great for lining, color packing, or shading. Fortunately, I break down what each tattoo ink brand has to offer and on what occasion you should use it, and why.
With all that said, let’s take a look at the 10 best tattoo inks below.
The winner of the best tattoo ink overall spot is Kuro Sumi, thanks to top-notch consistency across the board. The ink is vibrant, flawless, and thick, all while adhering to strict quality standards. For even more colors, choose from the jaw-dropping 250 options provided by Intenze Ink. It’s suitable for all types of work.
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There are several best tattoo inks, but none provide superior consistency quite like Kuro Sumi. If you’re a professional, reliable flow is probably the most crucial aspect of tattoo ink. Without a doubt, the brand is an industry favorite that boasts a molecular composition that provides flawless, vibrant ink every single time.
Loosely translated to ‘before’ in Japanese, ‘Sumi’ refers to the rich history and tradition of Japanese tattooing. Originally formulated in Japan, Kuro Sumi is now proudly made in the USA. The brand is synonymous with thick, vivid colors and extremely high-quality standard production and organic ingredients. All of their inks are EU Reach compliant.
Besides the way all of their colors beautifully absorb into the skin, my favorite feature of Kuro Sumi ink is the unique dimension it adds to tattoos. They have shading and lining black inks with different hues, like cherry (few other tattoo ink companies can say the same), but the primary color set is a great place to start.
Ingredients: Glycerine, Hamamelis Virginiana Extract, Water | Colors: 16 | Volume: 0.75 / 1.5oz | Package Type: Bottle
What is the best tattoo ink for dudes on a budget? Look no further than the vibrancy of Radiant Colors. This California-based company is best known for their bright, long-lasting hues. The primary color sets are a great place to start.
If you think a cheap price means skimping on quality, think again. The uncut homogenized pigments are sterilized and pure. You can count on it. Tattoo artists love it because the colors are easy to apply.
But I would say color is their strongest suit. This is the ink to choose if you want to elevate your color realism, especially for portraits. And they make some great pastels with strong, soft tones, which is a pretty difficult feat to master. As a nice plus, each bottle comes with a ball bearing to keep pigments nicely mixed.
Ingredients: Distilled Water, Isopropanol, Clyverin, Cosmetic Ingredient Varies Per Color | Colors: 7 | Volume: 0.5oz | Package Type: Bottle
The only thing keeping Intenze back from the top spot is a slightly hefty price tag. Because price aside, they have the longest track record of producing the industry’s highest-quality inks. It’s suitable for all types of work, including color packing, lining, and shading. And they have the most varied colors to choose from—a whopping 250. So you don’t get overwhelmed, the 54 color set might feel more approachable.
Of course, all of their ink is 100% vegan and cruelty-free, and they match both American and EU safety standards. As for pouring, each bottle comes with a responsive material for accuracy. I have little doubt you’ll love working with Intenze.
Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerine, Hamamelis, Virginiana Extract | Colors: 54 | Volume: 0.5oz | Package Type: Bottle
If you’re an apprentice new to the tattooing game, throw out the ink from your tattoo kit and get this. Because it’s thinner than most inks, Millennium Moms (also known as MOMs) is ideal for beginners. It’s cheap, good, and dependable, just like the best tattoo ink should be.
Developed in 1998, it’s actually one of the newer tattoo ink brands (two brands on this list are from the 1970s). But it’s known for a consistent and smooth homogenized carrier-pigmented mixture that flows effortlessly. The colors are vibrant and deep and absorb easily into the skin. Honestly, what else could you ask for? Perhaps this seven-color starter set.
Ingredients: Sterile Aqua, Glycerin, Isopropyl Alcohol, Hamamelis, Virginiana Extract | Colors: 7 | Volume: 0.5 / 1oz | Package Type: Bottle
Silverback is amazing for blackwork, but so is Dynamic. Plus, they have a wide range of other colors that tattoo artists clamor after. But when it comes to its roots, Dynamic harkens all the way back to 1990 with its flagship product, “Dynamic Black Ink.” And boy, is it good. No blue or purple tint here.
The black ink is probably most effective at the lining and tribal designs, thanks to an easily workable consistency and a higher pigment load. If you need to get really black, turn to Triple Black. Its pre-dispersed color creates bold, solid shapes of black.
As for purity quality, expect nothing less than hospital-grade water that is filtered, distilled, and UV-sterilized.
Ingredients: Distilled Water, Isopropyl Alcohol, Acrylic Primer | Colors: 1 | Volume: 8oz | Package Type: Bottle
A favorite amongst tattoo artists around the globe, this ink is aptly named. From a massive selection of bright, blendable, and multi-functional colors to high-quality standards, no tattoo kit is complete without World Famous.
Founder Lou Rubino Jr. knows the tattoo trade, having apprenticed for his father since high school. Because of this, quality and dependability are extremely important to the brand. All colors are vegan, cruelty-free, and sterilized with gamma radiation for the utmost cleanliness.
This ink is beloved for its amazing flow rate and highly pigmented colors. Great for blackwork, including heavy, dark packing, as much as it is for coloring.
Ingredients: Powdered Pigments, Sterile Aqua, Rosin, Glycerin, Witch Hazel, Isopropyl Alcohol, Benzyl Alcohol | Colors: 12 | Volume: 1oz | Package Type: Bottle
For bright, eye-popping color that heals with the same levels of vibrancy, look no further than Eternal. Self-taught artist Terry Welker got into the game in the mid-1970s, when few other tattoo inks existed on the market. He has used over 30 years of experience to popularize an ever-expanding palette of some of the best-colored inks available.
Yes, it’s considered the best color complete with iconic hues like Lipstick Red and Nuclear Green. They actually have a top 25 set, so you can get your hands on their very best.
Each vibrant color is sealed and sterilized in the USA. Of course, all pigments are EU-compliant and completely vegan.
Ingredients: Natural Pigments, Deionized Water, Hamamelis Water | Colors: 12 | Volume: 0.5oz | Package Type: Bottle
When you think about it, most tattoos are black, or at least use black for lining and shading. For blackwork, look no further than Silverback and “The Original Grey Wash Series.” Known for the darkest black tattoo inks on the market by tattooers around the globe.
Each of their black offerings comes with a special niche and is pre-mixed for consistency. For instance, Instablack has a velvety consistency while Stupidblack is sticky. XXXBlack is easy to use and all-purpose. It’s best as a solid base and ideal for lining and shading.
Rest assured, each bottle is packaged with a 100% tamper-evident seal and is EU-compliant. An ideal starting point is the XXX Grey Wash Series.
Ingredients: Proprietary Organic Extract, Glycol Ether, Alcohol, Water (varies by ink) | Colors: 4 | Volume: 1 / 4oz | Package Type: Bottle
When Adam Everett teamed up with Next Generation Tattoo Machines in 1995, one of the best tattoo ink brands was born. Known as the purveyor of one of the best and brightest inks in the game, it’s no wonder every notable list mentions Fusion.
When it comes to color offerings, they have it all, including flesh tones, traditional colors, pastels, opaque, muted, grey washes, and more. As for palettes, they offer plenty of reasonably priced sets. The 12-basic color set is a great starting point.
The colors are thick and have a high pigment load. They contain no fillers, plus they’re organic and vegan-friendly, as only the best tattoo inks should be.
Ingredients: Organic Pigment, Distilled Water, Witch Hazel, Alcohol | Colors: 12 | Volume: 0.5 / 1 / 2oz | Package Type: Bottle
Solid Ink’s white is so good, it’s known as THE white, with a lot of weight of pure pigment. It even comes with its own tagline: “It doesn’t get any whiter than this!” Not many pigments can say the same.
Besides THE white, the mixer should be another ‘add to cart.’ It’s great for breaking down black and getting different shades of gray. You can also use it to dilute ink to make it lighter so you can work faster.
Founded by famed tattoo artist Federico Ferroni, Sold Ink provides only the highest quality organic ink in super bright colors with max saturation. They are known for being easy to work with and for solid healing—barring proper washing and aftercare, however.
Ingredients: Water, Pigments, Glycerin, Isopropyl Alcohol, Hamamelis Water | Colors: 1 | Volume: 0.5 / 1 / 2 / 4 / 8oz | Package Type: Bottle
What To Look For In The Best Tattoo Ink
When choosing the best tattoo ink, you want to make sure you’re selecting highly pigmented colors. While every tattoo ink on this list is beautifully pigmented, you should look out for key words like ‘rich,’ ‘vibrant,’ and ‘bold.’ Highly pigmented indicates that a tattoo will look solid and rich on the skin as you apply and as it heals.
The best tattoo inks use only organic, cruelty-free, and vegan ingredients for formulation. Expect to see words like glycerin, hamamelis virginiana, which is a healing extract, and purified water. Witch hazel, alcohol, and natural pigments also commonly appear on ingredient lists.
First and foremost, the best tattoo ink should be safe enough to go inside your body. America and the EU have set strict standards to ensure only the safest ingredients are used. All of the tattoo inks on this list reach the safety standards set by these bodies.
While all of the best tattoo inks have bold, vibrant pigments, and adhere to the highest safety standards provided by the US and the EU, Kuro Sumi takes the cake for superior consistency. Only the best tattoo ink is easily workable and absorbs like a charm. Healing should be the same.
The safest tattoo ink brands (like the ones listed here) are organic, cruelty-free, vegan, and comply with American and EU safety standards.
Tattoo ink longevity depends on ink quality, tattoo location, skin pigment, and the level of tattoo care. That said, black ink is known for its fade resistance and can last for decades with the right care. Other long-lasting options are iron oxide-based inks, which are commonly used for red, brown, and yellow tattoos.