does red ink fade red tattoo fade faded red tattoo aged red tattoos are red tattoos more expensive are red ink tattoos more expensive

Red Tattoos: Everything You Need To Know

Red tattoos have become famous for a lot of reasons. People seem to be fond of red tattoos because they can make any design unique and create a focus point on one’s body. Are you thinking of getting a red tattoo?

Red ink can be seen as controversial, and they have loads of pros and cons. Red ink is prone to itchiness long after it has healed, and it can cause many other complications as well. Red ink is made of toxic components and can even stay on your skin after laser tattoo removal.

Before you decide to get a red-colored tattoo, it is crucial that you know everything you possibly can. Continue reading as we provide you with everything you need to know about red tattoos!

Why Red Ink Has Gained Popularity

Red tattoo inks have gained a lot of publicity amongst famous people, especially performers. Red ink is not only prone to be aesthetically pleasing, but they provide the possibility to experiment with your body art.

However, while black is still seen as the most popular option amongst clients in professional tattoo studios, many people are now experimenting by tattooing rainbow colors on their skin, especially red ink!

One of the other big reasons why red tattoo pigment has become so popular is that this color is suitable for all different shades of skin color. Besides the fact that red tattoos look appealing, tattoos have constantly been criticized because customers wanted different color options.

The only current option was black, which is not suitable for all skin colors. During the past decades, the improvement of tattoo ink technologies has focused on making more colors available.

Now, with how appealing red ink tattoos are, it doesn’t come as a surprise to know that they have become one of the more popular tattoo color choices.

Issues With Red Ink Tattoos

Red ink is seen as a controversial topic in the tattooing community for quite a few reasons. Let’s discuss what red tattoo ink is made of and the complications it could hold for you and your skin.

The Ingredients Found In Red Tattoo Ink

The majority of tattoo artists, even the professional ones, have no idea what the ink they use is made of or what ingredients they contain. Tattoo ink is neither approved by the FDA and is not standardized.

It has been scientifically proven that tattoo ink contains several toxic and harmful components, such as heavy metals. And, red ink might just be the mascot when it comes to toxicity and harmful ingredients.

A standard red tattoo ink consists of the following ingredients:

  • Iron oxide
  • Cobalt
  • Chromium
  • Cadmium
  • Cinnabar
  • Aluminum
  • Naphthol-AS pigment
  • Hoof Gelatin
  • Toxic pigment carriers such as denatured alcohols and formaldehyde

The list above is, of course, not the exact or complete list of ingredients you would find in the red tattoo ink. Many other toxic and potentially harmful components can be found in red pigment ink, such as rubbing alcohol, ethylene glycol (more commonly known as antifreeze, and many animal-originating components. This includes cod liver oil, beeswax, and animal fat glycerine.

You should have made the realization by now that the ingredients are part of the reason why several tattoo artists tend to avoid red ink tattoos.

These ingredients found in red ink can cause you several infections as well as allergies. It could also potentially open you up for longer-term health issues, such as burning, tattoo scarring, hypersensitive skin, skin rashes. In severe cases, it can even cause cancer.

All of these ingredients that can be found in red ink are on the EPA list of common causes of infections, allergic reactions, and cancer, which should immediately give you the idea that red ink might not be that great for you!

Perpetual Itching Of Red Tattoos

Another thing you need to know about getting a red-colored tattoo is the problem of potential, perpetual inching. As you may know by now, all tattoos will itch when they are fresh and still busy with the healing process.

Itching is a part of every successful healing process, and you can easily manage your itch with different ointments and lotions. Usually, you will be able to tolerate itchiness, and it will fade and never lasts long.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with red ink tattoo. Red tattoos tend to itch, even after the tattoo has healed itself completely. Some customers experience their red tattoos itching for years after getting the tattoo.

This is because the human body can never get used to the ingredients used to produce the red ink, and the skin develops a particular sensitivity to it. The red ink will stay in your skin much longer than any other color ink.

Allergies To Red Ink

Some people have red ink allergies and may not even be aware of it. If you are unaware of your allergies, this is something you seriously have to consider, as it is always a big risk.

If you already have a red ink tattoo and have not had any bad or abnormal reactions, it probably won’t become a problem the second time.

Always research online and educate yourself on allergic reactions to tattoo ink, and more specifically, red tattoo ink. Severe allergies can last multiple weeks or the whole lifetime of your tattoo.

Unfortunately, If you are unlucky enough to get a severe allergic reaction to the red tattoo ink, you may have to get laxer removal. Laser removal can be both expensive and extremely painful.

You certainly do not want to walk around in pain, so testing yourself for allergies and doing your research will benefit you greatly.

How Do You Deal With Red Ink Tattoos?

Because of the fact that red ink is much more likely to cause an allergic reaction and infection than any other colors ink, it is essential how to deal with one if you’re still willing to get a red-colored tattoo.

Choose Borders For Your Red Tattoo

If you choose to opt for a single color tattoo, such as a plain red tattoo, it will mean that you are choosing to go without borders for your tattoo. Borderless tattoos have gained popularity recently, but it certainly has their disadvantages.

Without those solid classic black borders or outlines to contain your tattoo design, it may compromise the quality of your red tattoo. Single red-colored ink may bleed into your skin and have blurred lines after a few years.

If you have been thinking of a borderless red tattoo, it might benefit you and the lifespan of your tattoo by incorporating a black line to round it off.

Minimize Your Risk By Getting An Allergy Test

Before you go for your tattoo appointment, it is crucial that you try and lower your risk of getting a serious infection or severe allergic reaction.

You can easily do this by getting an allergy test done. Your tattoo artist will most probably make you aware of an allergy test and advise you to take it beforehand.

If your tattoo artist has not made you aware of any allergy tests, you should consider going to a different tattoo artist.

The allergy test will give out a list of ingredients or components that your body could potentially be allergic to. You need to compare the listed components or ingredients with the ingredients that are usually used to produce red tattoo ink.

If you get any matches or similarities, it might be best to change your red tattoo into a black one.

However, as you can never be certain of all the ingredients used in the ink, it is the best and only precaution you can take against possible red ink tattoo allergies.

Only Get Your Tattoo From A Professional Artist And Studio

Getting your tattoo from a professional studio and artist may sound like the more expensive option, which can be concerning, especially if you are on a tight budget.

However, keep in mind that you will get the safest red ink possible from those renowned studios.

These studies also check for any toxic or harmful components in order to prevent any health problems or complaints in their customers later.

It Might Better To Go For A Multicolored Tattoo

You might already have your heart set on getting a red-colored tattoo. However, if there is any way you can maybe look at a more multicolored tattoo, it may be the better and safer option for you and your health.

Multicolored tattoos contain more than just simple red ink. Therefore, they can reduce your chances of getting an allergic reaction and minimalize the risk of perpetual itch after your tattoo has healed.

Do Not Wear Any Scratchy Or Itchy Fabrics

If you still decide to get a red-colored tattoo, it is advised to completely avoid wool and other fabrics that could scratch the area and make you more uncomfortable.

Itching is one of the most common issues of red tattoos, and it would benefit you if you did everything you could to avoid itchy bumps and potential raches.

Try to wear a non-scratchy material for the duration of your tattoo’s healing. Only wear scratchy or harsh fabrics when your red tattoo has completely healed itself and does not itch anymore.

Never Forget That Tattoo Aftercare Is Crucial

Never, ever forget to moisturize your fresh tattoo. The same as with any other type and color of a tattoo, you have to take very good care of it, especially if it is still part of the healing process.

It would help if you even moisturized your tattoo after it has done its healing. Suitable ointments and lotions should be used continuously, as it helps to protect you against infections, rashes, and itchiness.

This is why there has to be a particular part of your skincare routine where you make time to moisturize your tattoo unless you want a poorly healed tattoo which you will probably need to get removed.

One of the best products known to use for the aftercare and moisturizing of your tattoo is Vaseline. Vaseline is a highly inexpensive product.

You can also purchase products made especially for the healing of tattoos.

Always keep your tattoo covered for at least 24 hours after it has been done, and never scratch it. It is also advised to moisturize your tattoo with sunscreen in order to protect it from any potential sunburn or damage.

Seek Medical Help Rather Sooner Than Later

If you notice any continuous tenderness, redness, or unusual swelling oozing from your newly tattooed area, you need to go to a doctor as soon as you possibly can.

Reactions like this have a high possibility of allergic reactions and possible infections. It would always be better to have it looked at and treated by a medical professional or your household doctor.

Are Red Tattoos Worth It?

Modern red tattoo ink will last just as long as any other color tattoo. Tattoo pigments have been reformulated in the last ten years, and manufacturers have removed metals such as cadmium, which made a real red-red in the past.

The red is much more subtle and appealing now, and it will last for years if you look after it correctly.

However, if you opt for a single red-colored tattoo without any borders around it, you may need some re-touching every year as they will fade more quickly.

Your skin color and type and how well you take care of your tattoo during its healing process will also play a large role in how long your tattoo will last and look good.


A tattoo is truly a piece of art you choose to be on your skin forever, and it can have much more meaning than just looking beautiful. Always make sure you consider what theme you want to express and end up regretting it later as it will stay on your body forever.

Now that you know all the possible complications around red tattoos, you might want to reconsider or consider speaking to your tattoo artist to get a piece of mind before your scheduled tattoo appointment.

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):


Similar Posts