Tattoo inks are complex chemical compounds that take years of hard work by chemists and technologists from a particular brand’s team to develop and perfect. The cost of the best tattoo inks can be several tens of dollars, and sets are valued at several hundred. So when buying, it’s worth paying close attention to the seller’s (not the brand) reputation because the market is full of fake tattoo inks that lead to awful consequences. Below we will give you instructions on how to distinguish the fake from the original when choosing each popular brand of colored or black tattoo ink.
Table of Contents (clickable)
Why Quality Tattoo Ink Matters
Tattooing is a service linked to bodily fluids, hence the hygiene and health risks for your clients. Unknown formulations, non-compliance with sanitary standards during production and bottling, diluted liquids and other problems of fake products constantly lead to poor healing of tattoos or even worse – allergic reactions and infections of your clients.
Despite the fact that the norms of tattoo ink production are getting stricter, this does not reduce the number of counterfeit, especially on the periphery and with a great desire to save money.
What To Consider When Buying Tattoo Ink
The first thing you should pay attention to is the cost. Buying ink at surprisingly low prices in stores with a dubious reputation, you run the risk of stumbling on a fake brand. More precisely, you are almost hundred percent likely to buy a counterfeit.
Check if the dealer is certified by the manufacturer. The seller must show you documents proving the authenticity of the products being sold. This way you are 100% sure of the quality of what you are buying.
It happens that counterfeit products are sold in sizes that are not manufactured by the producer. For example, you can only buy Dynamic, with the bead and seal, in 1, 4, or 8 oz. The other volumes are bottled. Unfortunately, you can’t tell if it’s original or not when it’s bottled; moreover, you can’t know for sure if the sanitary standards of the bottling process were followed. Trust only verified retailers who have the proper certificates and documents to prove that they are bottling, for example, at pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, there are brands that do not allow bottling CATEGORICALLY. Among them are Intenze, Eternal, Nocturnal, World Famous. Therefore, pigments from these manufacturers may be available for sale EXCLUSIVELY in the amounts stated by the manufacturer.
Original brand packaging
Only by knowing what the original looks like will you be able to tell where the fake is. Newbies are most prone to such mistakes because the differences that are obvious to experienced artists are not evident to them. Moreover, the site of the pseudo-shops may have a photo of the original. So the difference, in this case, will be seen only after the receipt of the goods. Even so, it is important to understand that if you received a fake, firstly, you should not use it for clients; secondly, try to return the product to the seller through complaints and letters.
Visible visual signs of counterfeiting include:
- Misspelled words (e.g., Editeon may be written instead of Edition on a fake)
- Label colors are different
- Individual elements or colors of the logo or the entire label are different
- The shape of the bottle
- The shape and design of the cap
- The absence of barcodes, if provided by the manufacturing company
- No expiration dates (although this does not always apply, for example, Dynamic does not write expiration dates on its inks)
Besides the visual characteristics by which one can distinguish between original and fake, manufacturers often provide various ways to protect their products from mass fakes. These can be barcodes, certain types of membranes, and tamper-proof caps.
Let’s see how the original and fake inks of the popular brands look.
Brands to Watch Out for Fake Copies
At the end of 2016, the company launched its products in new bottles with maximum protection against counterfeiting. And although it has become more difficult to counterfeit these bottles, the market is still filled with low-quality Chinese fakes, so we tell you what the original packaging of Intenze should look like.
Intenze original packaging:
- The old cap format has a white seal (no foil)
- The old 1\2 oz. cap format has a white seal with black lettering
- There should be no membrane directly inside the cap
- All edges on the bottom of the bottle are flat and well defined
- Intenze is the only tattoo pigments with a tamper-evident cap, no one else makes them
- Has double tamper proof evident cap and tip
- Made of squeezable plastic
Here’s what the original VS fake Intenze seals look like:
Important to know! You can hardly buy 1 bottle of original Intenze tattoo ink and another bottle of fake ink in the same store. If you ask Intenze directly for their opinion on the sale of originals and fakes in one store, they will tell you that it is IMPOSSIBLE – it is against company policy, their first priority is to fight against fakes.
The examples of the original packages and inks:
Sometimes there’s a cheeky fake like this:
The original Eternal has:
- The seal under the lid is either pure white or white with red lettering (no foil)
- Company name embossed on the bottle (another way to protect against fakes)
- The seal directly inside the cap should not be
- All edges at the bottom of the bottle flat and well defined
- A strong and curved depression on the bottom is a sign of counterfeiting
- The sealed polyethylene is a sign of counterfeiting
- Diverging fonts on the stickers is a sign of falsification
You will also find Eternal Ink Labeling Details at the link.
These tattoo inks are most often not so much counterfeited as bottled in unknown conditions. So even if you buy the original ink on tap, there is a high degree of probability that it is still unsafe to use. Again, it’s a question of verification and the reputation of the seller you buy from.
When buying Dynamic, check carefully:
Right side of label:
- Expiration date and Lot number
Left side of label:
Center of label:
- “Color Co” under logo
- Color Code followed by color name in parenthesis
- American flag followed proudly by “Made in the U.S.A.”
One of the main drawbacks of this manufacturer is the minimal level of protection against counterfeiting. Millennium Mom’s packaging and caps do not have any special distinguishing features (other than visual) that tell you it is the original. Look carefully to see if the packaging matches the original photos and check the seller to make sure it is certified and verified.
The original Kuro Sumi can be distinguished by several signs.
Kuro Sumi colors have unique proprietary names such as “Great Wall Gin Black” and “Bamboo Green”. A Kuro Sumi color chart with all ink pigment names is available here. Fake Kuro Sumi bottles will have names such as “Lime Green” and “Snot Green,” some of them even misspelled.
Protective emblems on packages. All 12 oz. bottles will have the Kuro Sumi emblem embossed on the neck.
Received Kuro Sumi packaged in shrink-wrapped plastic? It’s a fake.
Number of inks per package. Check how many bottles are included in the kit. The manufacturer offers a strictly defined list of sets, not counting a few author’s sets.
- Lining and Shading Set
- Cherry Lining / Shading Set
- Bronze Lining / Shading Set
- 9 Bottle Master Shading Set
- Primary Set #1, #2, #3, #4
- 59 Color Set
+author and specialty sets
As a rule, fake Kuro Sumi comes in packs of 6, 7, 14, 16, 22, 28, and 35. By the way, the “Complete Color” set consists of the entire line of Kuro Sumi – 59 colors, and no way 28 and 35 bottles.
Size. Kuro Sumi Color Tattoo Inks are not sold in 8 oz, 12 oz, or 16 oz bottles. It is only available in 1/2 oz, 1 oz, 2 oz and 4 oz bottles. While grey washes and outlining inks are 1/2 oz, 1 oz, 6 oz and 12 oz.
Original World Famous:
- The seal is white with red lettering
- The label has a two-layer texture and when you peel off the top layer you find all the information about the ink in different languages
There are several reasons why WF is not counterfeited in China:
- They sell their own original products to China
- They have a strong lobby in China
Briefly about the original World Famous packaging:
Tattoo ink is your most expensive and complicated consumable. Its composition is a trade secret. The likelihood of counterfeiting a branded product exactly, at a price several times less than the market average, is zero.
Whereas the ink of unknown manufacturers can lead to irreversible consequences, and the blame for them will be entirely on the tattoo artist. Using any “gray” manufactured products means that there are no guarantees in case something goes wrong. Every time it is a huge risk to your career and reputation.
By using trusted suppliers, you minimize your risks, and therefore the risks of the customers who trust you with their skin.
Take care of yourself and your clients. Have a great tattoo!