What is the best red tattoo ink?
Find out as you read about the best red tattoo ink brands today.
While we won’t mention specific tattoo ink brands to avoid, we’ll give you pointers on picking the best pigments.
Let’s start with the bad news first.
- What’s in Red Tattoo Ink? (the Pigments)
- Pre-Dispersed Ink (the Carrier)
- How to Select the Best Ink for Red Tattoos
- Intenze Advanced Tattoo Ink Bright Red
- Tattoo Ink Viking Ink Ultra Red
- VIPER RED Millennium Moms
- Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Dragon’s Breath Red
- Formula 23 Lining Red Tattoo Ink by Intenze
- Bright Red Mario Barth Gold Label – Intenze Tattoo
- Starbrite 3 RED Color SET
- Dynamic Tattoo Ink Color Fire Red
- Skin Candy Tattoo Ink, Candy Apple Red
- Scream Tattoo Ink -CANDY APPLE RED
- World Famous Tattoo Ink – Vegan-Friendly Professional Tattooing Inks – Sailor Jerry Red
- Authentic Radiant Colors Tattoo Ink BLOOD RED
- Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoo Ink – Traditional Red 1
- Synergy Tattoo Ink Madeira Red
- Tony Polito “Brooklyn Style” Tattoo Ink – Bensonhurst Red
- MOM’S Nuclear Colors Tattoo Ink – Red Dawn UV Blacklight Ink
- Millennium Moms INK SHOTS -Box of 30 Ink Shots, Monthly Red
- Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoo Ink Shots – Traditional Red – 30 Per Box
What’s in Red Tattoo Ink? (the Pigments)
Did you know that red tattoo ink used to contain mercury? (1)
It was in the form of cinnabar, which is mercury sulfide. Of course, mercury is poisonous (2).
Then manufacturers began using iron oxide, naphthol, cinnabar, barium, and cadmium red instead.
These minerals and metals create the red color.
Should a person with a tattoo decide to do laser tattoo removal, these hazardous pigments would spread into the bloodstream.
Along these same lines, the European Union published a study in 2017 that reviewed the safety of tattoo ink.
They explain that cadmium builds up in the body and damages kidneys and bones (5).
It can also harm the developing baby of a pregnant mother.
Some newer inks contain plastic and compounds found in car paint and printer ink.
But only about a third of these pigments are approved for cosmetics. Most were made for industrial applications, not human skin.
Commercial dyes like azo pigments break down and release carcinogenic components when they are exposed to sunlight (6). Azo pigments include Solvent Red 1, which appears in some organic inks.
So how can tattoo ink manufacturers get away with this?
It’s because the FDA considers tattoo ink to be cosmetics, not drugs or medical devices. They don’t regulate ink safety to the same degree as other things that go inside your body.
That’s why it’s important to become familiar with the best tattoo ink brands.
You’ll get to know which companies make inks with non-toxic ingredients.
And it’s crucial to look at the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each ink you use.
In that way, you protect yourself and your clients’ health.
Pre-Dispersed Ink (the Carrier)
Fewer artists mix their own inks these days. They purchase pre-dispersed ink that’s ready to use.
But this can bring its own set of problems.
Some inks contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons like naphthalene, which is carcinogenic (7).
But the safest tattoo inks use pure water, witch hazel, or alcohol to suspend the pigment.
Some add glycerin to thicken the consistency.
But none of this matters much if the ink isn’t sterile.
The FDA recalled three brands of tattoo ink in 2018 and 2020 because they were contaminated with microorganisms (8).
How to Select the Best Ink for Red Tattoos
Now it’s time for the good news.
We made it easy for you today because we did the research to find the best red inks for tattoos.
But like we said, take the time to get to know the brands and read the safety data sheets.
Then when your customers have questions, you’ll be ready to answer.
Intenze Advanced Tattoo Ink Bright Red
Intenze’s Bright Red is vibrant and has plenty of staying power, unlike some shades of this color.
The manufacturer produces and bottles the ink in a cleanroom in the United States. Then they sterilize it and have it checked by a third-party lab.
We pulled the safety data sheet for this color, and here’s what we found.
The carrier liquid is made of glycerine, water, isopropyl alcohol, and witch hazel.
Then, the pigments include Pigment Red 254, Pigment Yellow 14, and Pigment Orange 13.
That red pigment is considered to be organic, and it’s used for dying plastics, rubber, and polyester, among other things.
Tattoo Ink Viking Ink Ultra Red
The Ultra Red ink made by Viking USA is classified as vegan-friendly. It’s a rich red shade used in Europe, too.
Like that of the best brands, this ink is sterilized before shipping.
Unfortunately, we only found a generic MSDS sheet on Viking’s website that wasn’t specific to this color.
VIPER RED Millennium Moms
Millennium Moms is known for their luscious, intense shades with a high amount of pigment and smooth consistency.
The Viper Red is one of many colors used by professional artists around the world.
The company provides a sample MSDS sheet on their site. It lists water, glycerin, and a proprietary resin as the carrier liquids for the pigment.
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Dragon’s Breath Red
Kuro Sumi inks are a favorite tool of tattoo artists around the world.
They use organic pigments and vegan formulas.
Just as important, the colors are lively and resistant to fading.
Just be sure you buy authentic Kuro Sumi ink. They’ve had a problem with counterfeiters. One way to tell fake ink is that it has a black and white label instead of the classic maroon.
We pulled up the MSDS information and found that they use glycerin, isopropyl alcohol, and water as well as Pigment Red 210 and other dyes.
Formula 23 Lining Red Tattoo Ink by Intenze
The Formula 23 ink by Intenze is perfect for lettering, lining, and shading. It’s up to whatever challenge you can imagine.
Happily, it comes in a large 10-ounce bottle so that you won’t run out soon.
One thing we especially liked is that the consistency is very fluid and goes and smooth. It’s perfect for precision work.
Bright Red Mario Barth Gold Label – Intenze Tattoo
Intenze also makes this Mario Barth Gold Label edition ink. It’s a custom color used by the famous artist himself.
Like others in the collection, it’s vegan-friendly and produced according to strict quality standards.
Starbrite 3 RED Color SET
Not sure which shade to get? Then grab the 3-color red set from Starbrite.
It includes Light Red, Scarlet Red, and Vampire Red. You’ll get the spectrum from almost maroon to almost pink.
Starbrite manufactures inks in the USA.
Yes, we pulled the MSDS and looked at Light Red. Besides glycerol, isopropyl alcohol, and water, it has two red pigments.
One is Napthol Red, and the other is Pigment Red 22.
The sheet says that it’s “primarily composed of organic pigment and not considered to be a hazardous substance.”
Dynamic Tattoo Ink Color Fire Red
Dynamic Tattoo’s Fire Red is just as intense as any of their other colors.
The consistency is thin, so it hurts less going in. Plus, this is a shade that tends to stay bright.
One artist described it as providing solid saturation.
Dynamic puts isopropyl alcohol, acrylic resin, and plenty of pigment into their ink. One that they use is Pigment Red 210.
Skin Candy Tattoo Ink, Candy Apple Red
Skin Candy is also known as Bloodline. We were enchanted by their Candy Apple Red shade.
It comes in a 1-ounce bottle that won’t expire for at least 2 years. But we doubt that it will last that long once you try it.
This is a color that looks good on pretty much every skin tone.
Want to know something interesting about European Union rules versus American regulations for ink?
The EU has companies produce a detailed list of any potentially toxic amines that might be in their ink. This one contains only one at a ratio of 30 milligrams per kilogram.
Scream Tattoo Ink -CANDY APPLE RED
Scream Tattoo Ink also makes a Candy Apple Red.
While Scream isn’t one of our top ink brands, it is distributed by Worldwide Tattoo Supply. Moreover, it has a shelf life of about three years.
Try it on practice skin to see what you think.
World Famous Tattoo Ink – Vegan-Friendly Professional Tattooing Inks – Sailor Jerry Red
World Famous Tattoo Ink has a great reputation. They have been in business for more than 50 years, and they manufacture in the USA.
Each ink is sterilized with gamma radiation before shipment. They are bottled in crystal flex, which means the color you see is the color you get. Each bottle is tamper-proof and TSA-approved. So yes, you can travel with these in your check-in luggage.
Since the EU has stricter regulations regarding tattoo ink, then the USA does, it’s comforting to know that this brand complies with EU quality standards.
The inks are vegan to protect the skin from allergic reactions and speed up healing.
But wait, you’re interested in the actual color, right?
Yes, this is a shade used by Sailor Jerry for his iconic tattoos. It was reproduced so you can re-create his style if you wish.
Authentic Radiant Colors Tattoo Ink BLOOD RED
Radiant Colors designed this color to be a true red.
It’s one of the most gorgeous shades we’ve seen.
Radiant Colors ink tends to flow well and heal nicely. The pigment is evenly dispersed, and the thin consistency lays down smoothly.
The company says they are influenced by the shades popular in the Southern United States as well as Mexico. Artists from these regions have worked with them to create their palette of colors.
The inks are manufactured in the USA and sterilized before sale.
Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoo Ink – Traditional Red 1
The original Philadelphia Eddie’s ink set includes eight colors. But if you want just the Traditional Red by itself, here it is.
It’s manufactured by Technical Tattoo Supply in the USA. It’s based on the work of the famous artist.
In fact, Eddie hand-mixed the colors himself.
You can choose either one or four-ounce bottles.
Synergy Tattoo Ink Madeira Red
Synergy Tattoo Ink may sound like a newcomer, but its founders have 40 years of combined experience in the industry.
They manufacture their products in the USA in a cleanroom. They also sterilize the ink before shipment. Each bottle is sealed so that you know exactly what you’re getting. As they say, they won’t sell anything that they wouldn’t use on themselves.
Their goal is to create a highly-pigmented ink with a rapid flow rate and excellent color retention.
If you found that the Madeira Red met those high standards, be sure and spread the word.
Tony Polito “Brooklyn Style” Tattoo Ink – Bensonhurst Red
Have you heard of Tony Polito from Brooklyn? He’s a legend, and so is his ink.
This custom color, Bensonhurst Red, is made by Technical Tattoo Supply in the USA.
MOM’S Nuclear Colors Tattoo Ink – Red Dawn UV Blacklight Ink
No review of red ink would be complete without mentioning UV-reactive colors.
Red Dawn from Millennium Moms glows brightly under black light.
But it also holds its own in daylight.
Although UV colors fade faster than regular inks, they are fantastic for highlights.
Luckily, Millennium Moms makes some of the best UV tattoo inks on the market. They are non-toxic and no more painful than any other color.
Millennium Moms INK SHOTS -Box of 30 Ink Shots, Monthly Red
Have you seen ink shots?
Each one is a disposable little squeeze tube of ink. They really cut down on making messes.
Instead of cracking open a big bottle for a small tattoo, these are ideal.
At 2ml each, they hold just enough to fill two large ink caps.
Furthermore, the rich red color looks like blood. That’s no surprise considering the name they gave it.
Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoo Ink Shots – Traditional Red – 30 Per Box
Philadelphia Eddie’s also makes ink shots in the Traditional Red shade.
Each one holds 2 milliliters of ink or two large ink caps’ worth.
We hope you discovered the red ink you need today.
Our reviews didn’t cover every possible shade, but they did touch on the best brands.
Let us know in the comments below which inks are your favorites.
1. https://readinsideout.com/education/what-is-tattoo-ink-made-of/ July 16, 2019Posted by Sara Coughlin
2. https://inchemistry.acs.org/content/inchemistry/en/atomic-news/tattoo-ink.html by Frankie Wood-Black, published February 01, 2017, accessed November 12, 2019
3. https://www.livestrong.com/article/180816-non-toxic-tattoo-ink-ingredients/ by Megan Churchwell, accessed November 12, 2019
4. https://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=79670& by Meghanne E. Tighe, published October 2017, accessed November 12, 2019
5. https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/alerts/?event=main.weeklyOverview&web_report_id=2372&Year=2017&lng=en accessed November 12, 2019
6. https://inchemistry.acs.org/content/inchemistry/en/atomic-news/tattoo-ink.html by Frankie Wood-Black, published February 01, 2017, accessed November 12, 2019
7. https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/alerts/?event=main.weeklyOverview&web_report_id=2372&Year=2017&lng=en accessed November 12, 2019
8. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-recalls-alerts/fda-advises-consumers-tattoo-artists-and-retailers-avoid-using-or-selling-certain-tattoo-inks published May 21, 2019, accessed November 12, 2019