5 Top Tips For Making Sure Your Tattoo Is Vegan Friendly

There's more to think about than just ink
This list will help you ensure your tattoo is vegan-friendly (Photo: Timothy Paul Smith)

If you’re vegan and looking to get a new tattoo, it’s important to choose your artist carefully and ask questions to ensure the entire process is animal friendly. 

Vegan ink is, of course, a hot topic - some inks contain such animal derived ingredients as gelatin, shellac, bone char or glycerin - however, it may come as a surprise that while ink is a primary concern, it is not the only one.

This is something I wish I’d known before my most recent tattoo - but when we know better we do better and it’s my hope that I can prevent others from overlooking the details I did.

Here are some other factors to bear in mind.

Transfer Paper

A less obvious consideration is transfer paper, used by artists to take a design from paper to skin. 

Only a few brands offer vegan options - many contain bone char - and it can be tricky to find artists who have or are willing to order it. 

An alternative to using transfer paper is to find an accommodating artist you trust and have them freehand the design onto your skin - eliminating the need for the paper entirely. 


Prior to tattooing, your artist may need to remove body hair. 

If you think this could be the case, it's wise to take your own fresh razor with you, so you know an animal product-laden moisturizing strip is not part of the process.

Granted, accessing vegan razors can be tricky for some - consider trying Preserve or Every Man Jack, if you can't find either brand in store in your area, you can probably order one online.

Find out what equipment your artists uses in advance (Photo: Allef Vinicius)

Lubricant and After Care

Also, your artist may need a lubricant while tattooing - and you'll want something to moisturize your fresh ink with afterward. 

There's an endless list of products for this online, so if your artist doesn't have one, you may be able to order one. Some sources say you can also use natural alternatives, like shea butter and olive oil.

I, personally, like to walk on the wild side and used argan oil to heal my most recent tattoo - however, I'm not a professional so this is merely anecdotal.


Last but not least, professionals recommend cleaning the tattoo with a mild, scent free soap - to foster healing and reduce the risk of infection. 

Be sure to find an appropriate vegan option in advance.

Again, here, I played it risky and simply rinsed my latest tattoo with warm water every day - an option I read about online, but this also is not recommended by professionals.

Needless to say, for my next appointment (already booked, of course...) I will have my razor and lubricant ready, and my artist will be freehanding the design, so I can keep the process vegan down to the most minute details.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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PBN Contributor:

Emily Court is a passionate ethical vegan from Eastern Canada. She is a Challenge 22 Mentor, Digital Writer, and experienced animal advocate driven by issues of animal liberation and social justice. She studied at Dalhousie University, where her thesis highlighted intercultural and gender relations. She is an established public speaker, writer, and world traveller with a drive to provide a voice to those who might not otherwise have one. You can follow her on Instagram @emily.j.court or on Twitter @_EmilyJCourt_.

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