Vegan, Organic Tattoo Misconceptions


My husband is a tattoo artist and I curate organic tattoo & piercing aftercare products. These factors, coupled with our heavily-tattooed-skin, create regular conversations about the process and healing protocol. Most important, it gives us an opportunity to set the record straight about 5 common misconceptions…


Organic Tattoo Aftercare
Real Heal Tattoo & Piercing Aftercare Family

As we near 2 decades of our presence in the industry, we’ve compiled a Q&A of the 5 most common questions we’re asked. Whether it’s in the streets, while he’s tattooing, or when I’m a vendor at local events or tattoo conventions, here are a few common misunderstandings:

    1. How can you claim to be healthy, yet have all those tattoos? Yes, we consciously inject foreign substances into our skin. However, tattoo ink isn’t a vaccine or shot, as many people think; he injects the ink into the second layer of skin (dermis), not the bloodstream. Regardless, we increase our vitamin and sleep regimen before and after tattooing, just as we do when traveling across time zones. This offsets the effects of foreign bodies entering our system and increases the detox process. My husband uses only vegan, organic ingredients, and tattooed 98% of my body art. His tattoo artists use the same brands of inks he uses. Unlike routine vaccinations and flu shots, tattoo ink isn’t a virus; our bodies don’t need to build antibodies against the ink. (Most who question our health claims “because of our tattoos” ironically inject themselves with dangerous and questionable vaccines.)

      Tattoo Sleeve
      Sleeve 1 circa 2013

    2. Does vegan ink hold up like regular ink? I don’t mean to sound snarky, but I’ve never understood this question, despite asking about the train of thought behind it. Does it stem from an antiquated paradigm that says animal products and man-made chemicals are superior to Mother Nature? Most standard tattoo inks are made with plastics, bone char or ash (for the carbon), and animal by-products such as carmine. They derive carmine by crushing scale insects, which I explain here.It’s also worth noting the A&D ointment commonly used during the tattoo process contains both petroleum and lanolin. These ingredients have dangerous side effects, which is why I created a vegan replacement to A&D. Petroleum is a fossil fuel by-product and a known carcinogen; Lanolin is allergenic and is the fat in wool. If you’re sensitive or allergic to wool, avoid A&D ointment.

      Cohineal bugs
      Cochineal bugs (not beetles, as commonly thought), used for hundreds of years to colour foods and clothing.
    3. Is there any other advantage to vegan, organic ink, other than it being healthier for our skin? I really don’t know what else there is to look for in life. If it’s a healthier option, no matter what it is, why wouldn’t we opt for it?It’s important to note the FDA has no control over tattoo ink, leaving room for unethical practices in the industry. Here are a few high-quality inks to ask potential artists about: Eternal Ink,  Intenze Ink, and Solid Ink. They’re the safest, non-toxic pigments available, making them less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Their color holds well if your artist is good at their craft—most of our tattoos are over a decade old and required no touch-ups.
    4. Does vegan ink stay truer to color longer than synthetics? The closer to nature a product is, the less your body rejects it. You can see Rob’s clients have no problem with their ink:
    5. Your colors stay so well… surely, plastics are in the inks? Nope. The healthier you are as an individual, the healthier your tattoos and skin are. Tattoos are an open wound. If you want them to heal well and last longer, eat lots of plants, exercise daily, don’t smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, sleep, and don’t bathe in the sun. Your skin reflects your inside health; if you enjoy the SAD (Standard American Diet), smoke, drink, and never exercise, your tattoos will heal hard. They’ll also require more maintenance.

This isn’t just rhetoric… the heaviest and least healthy clients require a longer healing time and require more touch-ups. What you use to heal has a great impact on the life of your tattoo, too. I create organic aftercare because petroleum- and mineral oil-based ointments clog your skin and are proven carcinogens.

Shop smart for your tattoos—look through portfolios, check prices and reviews, find social proof about the shop they work for. DO NOT settle for a cheap tattoo. Cheap tattoos undercut other artists and undermine the integrity of an artist. If your artists offers a large tattoo for $60, it should raise a red flag.

Note: a scratcher (unlicensed artist operating from his/her basement) will not have the same results as a professional, reputable artist, no matter what ink he uses. But a scratcher won’t spend top-dollar on organic inks, either.

Your tattoo is permanent, unless you want to spend triple the amount to have it removed. Demand security and a positive reputation from your artist. Don’t spend more time researching a car you’ll have for 5 years than the time you research permanent ink.

Tattooing is an art. Treat it as such.

In gratitude of your support, use coupon code gratitude20 for 20% off your first purchase.

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