Best Black Inks for Tattoos: Reviews & Buying Guide

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Since the very beginning, black tattoo inks have been the most important tool for tattooing.

This color of ink has been made with different ingredients like soot, bone black, and rusted metal.

At one time there were tattoo inks that included pigment from printer toner and automotive paint.

Needless to say, this wasn’t always the healthiest thing to use on the skin.

Luckily these days, the best black tattoo inks are safer than ever before if you know which brands to buy.

They are made using rich pigments suspended in a non-toxic carrier liquid.

Plus, they are sterilized which helps prevent infections.

Older black inks tended to turn green over time, but modern black tattoo inks retain that deep, dark color.

There’s enough variety that it’s possible to find the exact shade you need for portraits, tribal sleeves, and anything else.

Today, we’re going to go over the best black inks on the market.

Best Black Tattoo Inks (Recent Update)

Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Double Sumi Tribal Black

Kuro Sumi Japanese Tattoo Color Ink Pigments, Vegan...
  • VIVID COLOR AND DIMENSION - Originally formulated in Japan, Kuro Sumi tattoo inks give your tattoos...
  • JAPANESE TRADITION– Tattoo artists around the world choose Kuro Sumi tattoo inks. We incorporate...
  • TRIBAL BLACK TATTOO INK – The blackest tattoo ink that’s vegan-friendly and free from harmful...

Kuro Sumi is a brand from Japan that’s now manufactured in the United States. They make some of the most popular and trusted tattoo inks on the market.

Tattoo Artists like Tattoo Lou, who has 50 years of experience, recommend them as a top choice.

There are two crucial things working in Kuro Sumi’s favor.

First thing is that their tattoo inks are vegan, and they use organic pigments.

Second is that each color is bright and long-lasting.

When it comes to the Double Sumi Tribal Black, artists say that it’s the ideal solid black shade for a filler. It’s very smooth, saturates nicely, and doesn’t fade.

Keep in mind to watch for counterfeits. This is not unique to this brand but all tattoo inks. If you receive a bottle that has a black and white label, it’s not the real deal. Their real labels are maroon and white.

Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink Lining and Shading Set

Kuro Sumi Japanese Tattoo Color Ink Pigments Set, Vegan...
  • VIVID COLOR AND DIMENSION - Originally formulated in Japan, Kuro Sumi tattoo inks give your tattoos...
  • JAPANESE TRADITION– Tattoo artists around the world choose Kuro Sumi tattoo inks. We incorporate...
  • OUTLINING AND SHADING TATTOO INK SET – Our grey wash shading ink and black outlining tattoo ink is...

You can save a little money by buying a set of Kuro Sumi tattoo inks. This one uses black and two shades of gray wash for lining and shading. It makes transitions easy as you won’t have to blend your own washes.

The ingredients include pigments in a base of glycerin and witch hazel.

Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Outlining

Kuro Sumi Japanese Tattoo Color Ink Pigments, Vegan...
  • VIVID COLOR AND DIMENSION - Originally formulated in Japan, Kuro Sumi liner black gives your tattoos...
  • JAPANESE TRADITION– Tattoo artists around the world choose Kuro Sumi tattoo inks. We incorporate...
  • OUTLINING BLACK TATTOO INK – The blackest tattoo ink that’s vegan-friendly and free from harmful...

If you do stick and poke type of tattoos, the black outlining ink from Kuro Sumi is a top pick.

People say that it lays down a deep black color for lining and filling.

Dynamic Color Triple Black Tattoo Ink

Dynamic Triple Black Tattoo Ink Bottle 8oz
  • TRUSTED BY TATTOO ARTISTS FOR AGES – For over ten years, Dynamic has been providing artists with a...
  • GOES IN EASY AND HEALS ULTRA-DARK – Dynamic Triple Black Tattoo Ink remains top dog because the...
  • VERSATILE PROFESSIONAL TATTOO INK – This ink is an excellent choice for lining, shading, tribal...

The Dynamic Color Co. has been operating in the USA for almost 30 years. Their Triple Black ink has a very high pigment load which makes for a deep, intense color.

Some artists claim that this is their favorite shade for lining. It’s also frequently recommended for cover-ups and reworking.

Some of the ingredients include carbon black, isopropyl alcohol, acrylic polymer, water.

BLACK ONYX Millennium Moms

MOM'S Tattoo Ink - Black Onyx (2 Oz.)
  • MOM'S Black Onyx Tattoo Ink
  • 100% Authentic MOM'S Tattoo Ink, Brand New Item
  • Manufactured by Millennium Colors, Inc.

The Black Onyx color by Mom’s Inks is used by famous tattooo artists like Brian Murphy and Marcus Kuhn.

Millennium Moms Black Pearl Outlining Tattoo Ink

Mom's Black Pearl Outlining Tattoo Ink 12 Oz. - Plus Ten 5...
  • This Is By Far The Darkest Black Tattoo Ink You Will Ever Find.
  • Manufactured by Technical Tattoo Supply.
  • 10 Years In The Making. Black Pearl Defines Black.

Mom’s Ink uses homogenized, uncut pigments in a base of water and glycerin. The result of this is ink that flows fast and smoothly.

They are another US company that’s been around for nearly three decades. They have more than 60 colors in their inventory, including black-light ink.

The Black Pearl shade is great for lining and shading. Artists have said that it doesn’t dry out in the ink cups and they don’t have to go back over lines.

You might wonder why we advise buying tattoo inks from American companies? This is because the FDA has rules regarding ink safety.

Intenze Tattoo Ink True Black

Intenze True Black Tattoo Ink 1oz
  • Pre-Dispersed Tattoo Ink
  • Color: True Black
  • Size 1oz Bottle

Intenze just hit the two-decades in business mark. They involve different artists in the creation of their inks. Some of the big names that promote Intenze inks are Mark Mahoney and Bob Tyrell.

They employ biochemists to keep their inks sterile. They also test them by using a third-party laboratory, as well as storing their inks in controlled conditions to make sure they stay fresh and sterile.

When you choose Intenze tattoo inks, you can be sure that they are free of mutagenic toxins, spores, yeasts, and bacteria. They also abide by FDA and EU quality standards.

You’re probably wondering about the color? True Black is a favorite lining ink for artists around the world.

Millennium Mom’s BLACKOUT Tattoo Ink Color Shader Artist Liner All Purpose

Millennium Mom's BLACKOUT Tattoo Ink Color Shader Artist...
  • Smooth: A homogenized carrier/pigment mixture that flows easily
  • Vibrant: Highest possible pure pigment content ensures your work stands out
  • Consistent: Receive the color and quality you expect, each and every time

If you can only afford to buy one black ink, get this one. It’s a deep, dark black that can be used for lining, lettering, shading, and tribal tattoos.

If you’re on the market for a black shade based on the pigment color, this one uses 77226.

Honorable Mentions

Intenze Professional Tattoo Ink Suluape Black

Suluape Black was designed in collaboration with the Suluape Tatau family from Samoa. It’s a shade that’s perfect for tribal tattoos because of it’s rich color.

The artist Petelo Suluape says he’s proud of its blend of traditional and modern formulas because it gives his work a “unique radiance.”

Intenze Professional Tattoo Ink Zuper Black

Zuper Black is the deepest black color that Intenze makes. You can buy it in either small 1-ounce or large 12-ounce bottles.

Dimension Black By Bob Tyrrell – Intenze Tattoo Ink

Artist Bob Tyrell is known for his portrait work. He created the Dimension Black ink for Intenze.

Intenze Professional Tattoo Ink Black Sumi

Intenze also created a Japanese style traditional ink with Black Sumi.

If you do like to do precision work with fine lines, get this one.

StarBrite Colors Sterilized Tattoo Ink Jet Black Outliner

StarBrite makes their black tattoo inks in the USA. They make bright colors that flow easily. Their budget prices make them a top choice of new artists.

Also, each tattoo ink is sterilized by irradiation to kill harmful bacteria.

Radiant Colors – Tribal Black

Radiant Colors is an American company that makes pre-dispersed black tattoo inks with uncut and homogenized pigments. The tattoo inks are also irradiated for sterilization.

You can find their vibrant inks in ½ ounce bottles which allows you to try them without spending a lot of money.

Artists who like Radiant Colors say that they tend to have a thin consistency and flow quickly.

Skin Candy tattoo ink, all-purpose black

Skin Candy and Bloodline are the same company and are based in California. They’ve been in business since 1996.

The facility that they use for manufacturing is state-of-the-art and has a special pigment dispenser that ensures consistency between the batches.

The carrier for the pigments is purified with UV filtration and reverse osmosis.

The company recommends shaking the bottles before dispensing the tattoo ink and then stirring it using a handheld mixer.

The all-purpose black ink is thick and dark. Combine this with Magnum needle groupings for tribal work, and also cut it with distilled water for outlining and shading.

Alla Prima Black Tattoo Ink ZAO

Alla Prima’s black tattoo ink is made for shading, outlining, as well as tribal art. It’s made from organic pigments in the USA and packaged in a plastic bottle free of PET.

The company does not use any acrylics or solvents in their ink.

Bloodline/Skin Candy Tattoo Ink, Tribal Black

Tribal Black is a tattoo ink that has a shelf life longer than two years. Just be sure to mix it well before using it.

Panthera Black Liner Tattoo Ink

Panthera’s liner black tattoo ink has a dark velvet sheen to it. It’s also resistant to UV light which keeps it from fading in the future.

Panthera Tattoo Ink – XXX TRIBAL BLACK

Panthera is from an Italian company called Futura. It’s quite popular throughout Europe and is growing in popularity in the USA.

Panthera only makes a range of black colors and one white color which is interesting. Each shade resists fading in sunlight.

The XXX Tribal Black tattoo ink is the deepest color they feature. It comes in a five-ounce bottle.

Viking Tattoo Ink Black Liner & Black Tribal

Viking Tattoo Ink is made in the USA. It’s one of the only brands licensed for use in Spain. These inks are popular throughout all of Europe and the USA, too.

The formulas are vegan and sterilized for safety. They saturate pretty well.

Although there are more than 150 colors to choose from, we selected just two shades for this article.

Viking Tattoo Ink, Black Fill

This Black Fill tattoo ink also does well when used for lining and shading.

Panthera Artist Series — Ralf Nonnweiler Smooth Blending Black Tattoo Ink

Artist Ralf Nonnweiler collaborated with Panthera to create this smooth black shade. It’s superb for doing subtle details.

Why Does Black Ink in Old Tattoos Turn Green?

In previous decades, tattoos were often done with ink from India that was made of dark green and blue pigment. Over the years, the pigment breaks down into its composites. This is the reason why old black tattoo inks have a tendency to turn greenish-blue.

What’s in Modern Black Tattoo Ink?

Tattoo inks these days consist of pigments like carbon black, iron oxide, powdered magnetite, and jet. The pigment is suspended in a carrier such as glycerin, pure water, or witch hazel.

If you request an MSDS sheet from the manufacturer of the ink, you’ll be able to get an idea of what’s in the inks you’re using.

Why You Should Only Buy Black Tattoo Inks from Reputable Manufacturers

It goes without saying that you get what you pay for. If you buy poor quality black tattoo inks, you won’t get the performance of a higher-quality ink.

The color just won’t be as crisp which can lead to disappointed customers.

But even worse, cheap tattoo inks use unhealthy ingredients like heavy metals. Those toxins travel throughout the body and cause side effects.

Also, cheap tattoo inks may not be sterilized properly. They may use carrier liquids like alcohol that slow down healing or even cause infections.

Trust us; the price difference for quality isn’t worth the consequences.

You and your clients will be much happier using the best black tattoo inks on the market.

Ideas for Your next Black Ink Tattoo

If you’re not sure where to begin, or where to go next with your art, check out some of the links at the end of the article.

Tattoo Johnny provides thousands of ideas that are organized into categories like Polynesian, lettering, gangster, funny, and Gothic.

You can also browse through books.

Make Ink Yourself

Would you like to have a crack at making your own black tattoo ink? There’s a recipe online that’s easy to do.

Here’s what you’ll need: medical-grade glycerin, propylene glycol, witch hazel or vodka, a blender, and pigment.

It’s also possible to order dry pigment from a tattoo supply house. You can even make your own by burning wood.

Don’t forget to use gloves and a dust mask to protect your skin and lungs from the pigment.

If this seems like too much work, we hope you found what you need when it comes to the best black tattoo inks for tattooing.


You have a lot of options when it comes to the best black tattoo inks.

Some are created especially for lining, others for shading, and others for doing precision work.

Modern black tattoo inks are ready to use right out of the bottle because they are pre-dispersed and sterile.

Also, they are available in a wide variety of shades for every possible type of art.

Let us know what your favorite black tattoo ink is and why you like it so much in the comments below.