Something anyone preparing to get a tattoo wants to know is what is in your inks. Sadly, we cant tell you, because the companies who make the inks aren't required to say what the contents are. A professional who mices his or her own inks is the most likely to know what the ink contains
Interestingly, most tattoo inks are not inks, they are instead pigments in a carrier solution. These pigments are usually metal salts, however some are plastics, and some may be made of vegetable dyes. The pigment is what gives the tattoo its color, the carrier solution disenfects the pigment, and makes it easier to apply to the skin.
Common Tattoo Pigments
The following list will name popular tattoo pigment colors and some of thte materials that can be used to produce that color.
Black: Iron Oxide Fe3O4/FeO, Carbon, Logwood (Logwood is an extract from the Haematoxylon campechisnum plant found in Central America and the West Indies)
Red: Cinnabar HgS, Cadmium Red CdSe, Iron Oxide Fe2O3, Napthol-AS pigment (Napthol reds are created from Naptha, they tend to be more hypo-allergenic than other reds)
Orange: disazodiarylide/disazopyrazolone, Cadmium seleno-sulfide
Flesh: Ochre (Iron Oxide mixed with clay)
Yellow: Cadmium Yelllow CdS/CdZnS, Ochre, Curcuma Yellow (comes from plants in the ginger family), Chrome Yellow PbCrO4 (sometimes mixed with PbS), disazodiarylide (Note when getting a tattoo with yellow in it that lots of ink is required to get a bright color, and the risks increase)
Green: Chromium Oxide Cr2O3, Malachite Cu2(CO3)(OH)2, Ferrocyanides, Lead Chromate, Monoazo pigment, Copper or aluminum phthalocyanine,
Blue: Azure Blue, Cobalt Blue, Copper phthalocyanine
Violet: Manganese Violet ( Manganese ammonium pyrophsphate), Various aluminum salts, quinacriodone, Dioxazine/carbazole (Note when getting a tattoo with purple in it that many of these pigments are photoreactive and lose their color if exposed to light too long. Dioxazine and Carbazole are the most stable in this way)
White: Lead white, Titanium dioxide TiO2, Barium sulfate BaSO4, Zinc Oxide.
"Tattoo Ink Chemistry." About. 2009. The New York Times