Everything You Need to Know About Hypoallergenic Tattoo Ink

Most tattoo inks purchased from reputable manufacturers are considered safe, but some inks can cause allergic reactions and sensitive skin.

Knowing how to help clients who are prone to allergic reactions and answer questions about the ink you’re using will help them have a better tattoo experience.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  • Tattoo allergies and what causes them
  • Differences between regular and hypoallergenic tattoo ink
  • Recommendations for hypoallergenic tattoo inks

Can People Be Allergic to Tattoo Ink?

A person with red ink tattoos

Tattoo ink allergies can develop in clients who have naturally sensitive skin or at random - even if they already have tattoos and no history of bad allergic reaction. 

While most tattoo inks are safe, everyone’s body will react differently, and it’s not always possible to predict when a client might experience skin allergies.

What Happens with a Tattoo Ink Allergy?

Tattoo allergies are localized reactions that occur around the area of the tattoo or in smaller sections within the tattoo. 

For example, because clients report an allergic reaction to red ink more often than black ink or other colored tattoo inks, a reaction will often occur only where the red tattoo ink is. Yellow ink has also been linked to increased sensitivity to the sun that can lead to allergic reactions.

Allergic reactions to tattoo ink can vary from mild to severe. A mild allergic reaction may include the following symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Redness, rashes, or bumps
  • Localized inflammation (swelling at the tattoo site)
  • Eczema-like allergy
  • Skin tags or nodules

Allergy symptoms that are more severe and require medical attention inclide:

  • Intense itching or burning around the tattoo
  • Pus or drainage oozing from the tattoo
  • Hard, bumpy tissue
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Fever 
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Difficulty breathing

What Causes Allergic Reactions to Tattoo Inks?

tribal tattoos

Tattoo ink manufacturers are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which means that there is a very wide range of tattoo ink ingredients being used. A reputable tattoo artist will use high quality tattoo ink that is linked to as few bad reactions as possible, but they do still occasionally occur. 

The cause of allergic reactions to tattoo ink comes down to the ingredients. Tattoo pigments, dyes, and metallic substances used to make ink can cause reactions in sensitive skin. 

Some tattoo inks contain toxic ingredients like heavy metals and ingredients used in commercial printer ink. This can trigger an immune response that makes the body treat the ink as a foreign substance, creating an allergic reaction. 

Here are some of the ingredients that have been linked to allergic reactions to tattoo inks:

  • Aluminum
  • Aminoazobenzene
  • Brazilwood
  • Cadmium sulfide
  • Carbon (also called “India ink”)
  • Chromic oxide
  • Cobalt aluminate
  • Cobalt chloride
  • Ferric hydrate
  • Ferric oxide
  • Iron oxides
  • Lead chromate
  • Manganese
  • Mercury sulfide
  • Phthalocyanine dyes
  • Sandalwood
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Zinc oxide

How to Minimize Risk of Allergic Reactions 

There are a lot of things both artists and clients can do in order to minimize their risk of having an allergic reaction to tattoo ink. 

On the client end, people can get tested to see if they have any common underlying allergies or skin conditions that might lead to a bad reaction. Clients should also avoid getting tattoos if they feel sick, because a weakened immune system can influence how the skin reacts to the tattoo. 

Based on skin type, some clients might experience bad reactions even if the artist is using the best tattoo inks available. Clients can request a patch test ahead of time to help figure out the best ink for them. 

Tattoo artists can also minimize the chances of bad reactions in clients by investing in high quality tattoo inks and hypoallergenic inks.

What Are Hypoallergenic Tattoo Inks?

Tattoo artist dipping into black ink

One of the best things tattoo artists can do for their clients is to use high-quality ink with non-toxic ingredients. Inks made with natural ingredients and organic pigments are safer in general and will cause fewer issues for clients. 

Hypoallergenic ink for tattoos does not contain heavy metals or other harmful ingredients like formaldehyde. 

Hypoallergenic Tattoo Ink Recommendations  

Here is a look at some of the best tattoo ink that is hypoallergenic and available in multiple ink colors.

World Famous Ink:

Vegan ink is also hypoallergenic. Vegan inks are made with plant-based ingredients so they are vegan friendly, but this also means that they are less likely to lead to allergic reaction. World Famous is a vegan-friendly ink that is widely thought of as one of the highest quality inks in the tattoo industry.

Dynamic Ink  

Dynamic ink is hypoallergenic and is manufactured using only non-toxic ingredients and is vegan and cruelty free. 

Dynamic is also known as a relatively cheap option while still using only the safest ingredients.

Mom’s Millenium:  

Mom’s Millenium tattoo inks are made with natural ingredients. Mom’s has lime green, canary yellow, and blue pigments that are hypoallergenic.


Mom’s ink is known for being very thick, which doesn’t always work for every tattoo style.

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

Understanding tattoo ink  is an important step in your journey towards a tattoo career, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills as a professional tattoo artist.

However, finding the straightforward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from tattool artists with the experience and advice you need for your tattoo career. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

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Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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