We cover lots of different aspects of vegan life here on Blisstree: vegan beauty, vegan food trucks, vegan cheese, vegan celebrities. But we’ve never investigated vegan tattoos. Different tattoo shops use different kinds of tattoo inks, and not all of them are free of animal products or animal testing (same goes for many popular after-care products). I talked to a couple of 100% vegan tattoo shop owners about how to make sure your next tattoo is vegan friendly.
A tattoo is more than just some ink, a needle and that telltale pain: James Spooner of Monocle Tattoo, the only 100% vegan tattoo shop in Los Angeles, explained, “An artist chooses multiple products to use before, during and after the procedure.”
Before you get inked, do your research. Call around to different shops in your area and ask them about the products used, read Yelp reviews, and question your vegan friends about their own body art. This is the number one piece of advice for the would-be inked: Jes Ashby of White Rabbit Tattoo Studio in New York City urges all vegans to ask questions about the shop, the inks and the products used.
“This is #1 rule for all things tattoos… SPEAK UP! If you have any special needs or requests, then it’s always best just to speak up. Most artists don’t mind making a few adjustments if they don’t already use vegan products. I have never been “told off” or treated badly for asking, and if I had, I surely wouldn’t get tattooed there!”
So what about once the tattoo is complete? You have to keep it moisturized. I know lots of tattoo places recommend using Aquaphor or other ointments that contain lanolin (a thickener derived from sheep’s wool), beeswax or even petroleum. Petroleum isn’t technically bad for vegans to use, but it’s not the most eco-friendly choice and it may do more harm than good on your skin.
“I use Ink-eeze because they are both animal friendly and earth concious as well as clear of outside contaminants….which is an important issue when it comes to dealing with an open wound. You don’t want to put anything “foreign” into your body that you are not 100% sure of.”
Ink-eeze also makes numbing creams, sunscreen and daily moisturizers for tattoos.
I’ve been using coconut oil on my brand new tattoo, so I asked the artists what they thought about the use of natural oils. Both said they’d seen both good and bad results from coconut oil, olive oil, and similar products. Jes recommends that the newly-inked keep tattoo aftercare separate from all other body care products:
Keep your hands clean, always, and separate your aftercare from pretty much everything else. I often recommend for people to store their natural aftercare in a sealable plastic bag far from any food or make-up items. The tiniest germ or bacteria could lead to an infection that would hurt a lot and even ruin your beautiful new tattoo!
So, if you’re a vegan who is thinking of inking and wants to make sure your art is vegan-friendly, research the shop and artist who’ll be tattooing you and get yourself some all-natural aftercare products. Your new tattoo will be just as vegan as you are.
Photo: Courtesy of Jason Spooner, Monocle Tattoo