Vegan Tattoo Setups and Aftercare at Born This Way Body Arts

Did you know that some—nay, most—tattoos are not vegan?

Sometimes it seems like there’s always another “Gotcha! Not vegan!” on the horizon, but this one hurts a little bit, because we vegans tend to be a pretty inked-up bunch

Vegan tattoo setups are available, though, as are vegan and cruelty-free aftercare products.

Locally, Born This Way Body Arts is your best source for vegan tattoos in Knoxville. More on that in a moment.

What Makes a Tattoo Non-Vegan?

Mostly, it’s animal products in the inks, but it doesn’t stop there. Everything from the soaps and razors used to prepare your skin to the aftercare products that help you heal can be un-vegan. Here’s a list of the most common offenders:

  • Glycerin – Though most major tattoo ink brands use vegetable glycerin, some glycerin is made from animal fat. Glycerin is used in tattoo ink as a stabilizer.

  • Gelatin – Made from animal hooves, gelatin is a common binding agent used in tattoo ink.

  • Lanolin – Derived from sheep’s wool, lanolin is used in ointments and some tattoo stencil paper.

  • Shellac – Used in most black inks as a binder, shellac is an insect byproduct.

  • Bone char – Depressingly, charred bone is used in black tattoo ink to achieve a crisp black.

  • Beeswax – Common in aftercare products.

  • Cod Liver Oil – Common in aftercare products.

Yeah, I was really disappointed too. But while the ink you’ve already got may not be totally animal-friendly, you can  easily make sure your next tattoo is!

Born This Way Body Arts


Luckily for us Knox Vegans, Born This Way Body Arts on Middlebrook Pike offers fully vegan tattoo setups, from the inks and ointments right down to the soap they use to clean the skin during procedures.

They also sell a range of vegan aftercare products, like the Simple Care piercing aftercare line and Holey Butt’r vegan ear stretching care.

I asked Bryan Thomas, co-owner of Born This Way with his wife April (she of the I-40E billboard), why they go out of their way to provide vegan tattoos. “We decided to have these options for our clients because I want everyone to feel safe when getting tattooed or pierced at our studio,” he said. “It’s also important to me that our studio have as little impact on the environment and animals as possible.”

That’s a great answer, though perhaps not a huge surprise from a man currently working on a sleeve of veggies on his lower leg.

He continued, “The thing I love most about Born This Way is giving people the ability to feel more comfortable in their own bodies. I believe we are all born with the desire to modify our appearance… By providing an environment that is safe and non-judgmental, we are able to help everyone feel more like themselves, and that’s pretty awesome!”


Have more questions? Contact Born This Way at 865-951-1486.

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Emily Winsauer

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