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What color of tattoo ink is most expensive?

Tattoos have become increasingly popular over the past few decades, with studies estimating that 30% of people aged 18-35 in the United States have at least one tattoo. With demand rising, the tattoo industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar business. This increase in popularity has led to innovations in tattoo equipment, techniques, and of course, ink.

When getting a new tattoo, most people focus on finding the right design and artist. But the tattoo ink used is just as important for achieving the desired result. Tattoo ink comes in a variety of colors, and some colors are more expensive than others. In this article, we’ll look at what makes certain tattoo ink colors cost more and identify the most expensive tattoo ink colors on the market.

Factors that Influence Tattoo Ink Prices

There are a few key factors that determine the cost of tattoo ink:

  • Pigments – The specific pigments used affect the price. Rare organic pigments or bright pigments like neon colors cost more.
  • Quality – Higher quality inks tend to be more expensive. These inks often use higher purity pigments.
  • Brand – Well-known brands like Intenze, Millennium Mom’s, and Silverback charge a premium.
  • Color Saturation – Deep, rich colors require more pigment and are more costly to produce.
  • Packaging Size – Larger bottle sizes (4oz+) offer value pricing per ounce compared to smaller sizes.

These factors mean some colors like reds, blues, and blacks tend to be cheaper while rare or specialty colors are pricier.

Most Expensive Tattoo Ink Colors

Given the above factors, below are some of the most expensive tattoo ink colors currently on the market:

Fluorescent Inks

Fluorescent or UV inks contain pigments that glow under black lighting. They create a bright, neon effect. The exotic pigments needed to achieve these colors are rare and challenging to produce. A standard 1oz bottle of fluorescent ink starts around $30 but can cost up to $50-60 per ounce for premium UV ink from brands like Radiant Colors or Millennium Moms.

White Ink

White is one of the most difficult colors to produce in tattoo ink. Most white ink available today uses titanium dioxide as the pigment. This thick, opaque material requires extensive processing to grind it into a fine powder suitable for tattooing. Expect to pay a minimum of $25 for a 1oz bottle, but high-end white tattoo ink like Dynamic’s Snow White starts around $60 per ounce. Using white as a highlight adds to the cost of a tattoo.

Yellow Ink

Vibrant yellow is another challenging color in tattoo ink manufacturing. Most yellow inks use cadmium or azo-based pigments which requires additional safety testing and processing. And yellow tends to fade faster than other colors, so extra pigment is needed. A standard 1oz bottle costs $25-40, but intense neon shades like Bold Gold can run up to $60 per ounce.

Purple Ink

Purple is a less common color in nature, so the pigments needed for rich purples are more exotic and pricier to source.expect to pay upwards of $30 for a 1oz bottle. Dynamic’s Royal Purple runs $55 per ounce. Purple also tends to fade faster than other colors, so extra pigment is required in quality purple inks.

Skin Tone Ink

Inks like flesh tones, tan, peach, or coral require carefully blending multiple pigments to achieve a natural skintone hue. This makes them more labor intensive to produce. A single ounce of skin tone ink starts around $30 and can run up to $45-50 for premium blends.

Gold Ink

Real gold powder is used to produce golden tattoo inks. This precious metal makes gold ink one of the most expensive on the market. A standard 1oz bottle starts around $45-50 but high-end gold inks like Ink Infinite’s 24k Gold can run up to $100 per ounce!

Average Tattoo Ink Prices by Color

To give an overview of typical pricing, below are the average costs per 1oz bottle of some popular tattoo ink colors:

Color Average Price Per Ounce
Black $10-15
Red $15-20
Green $15-25
Blue $15-25
Orange $20-30
Yellow $25-40
Purple $30-55
Fluorescent $30-60
White $30-60
Gold $45-100

As you can see, common colors like black, red, blue and green tend to be the least expensive at $10-25 per ounce. Specialty colors like neon, white, gold and purple run $30 to over $100 per ounce.

Factors that Determine Total Tattoo Cost

The ink is just one factor in the total cost of getting a tattoo. Here are some other considerations that affect the price:

  • Artist hourly rate – Ranges from $50/hr to $200+/hr for top artists
  • Studio minimums – Many shops have 1 to 2 hour minimum charges
  • Tattoo size – Larger and more complex designs take more time
  • Body placement – Areas like ribs, feet, or head may have a premium
  • Color vs black ink only – Color tattoos take more time and supplies
  • Heavy shading vs line work – Shading is more time consuming
  • Number of sessions – For large scale pieces, multiple sessions mean multiple service fees

The tattoo artist will ultimately determine the total quote based on their hourly rate, the estimated time, and supplies needed. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 for a tiny design up to several thousand for an intricate full back piece or full sleeve.

Tips for Saving on Tattoo Costs

If you’re looking to get quality body art on a budget, here are some tips that can help save:

  • Go for a smaller, simpler design – Size and complexity are the biggest cost factors
  • Use black ink only or limit colors – Blackwork is much more affordable than bright, vibrant colors
  • Avoid specialty inks like white, UV, or gold – Stick to basic colors like black, red, blue for budget friendly ink
  • Go for line work rather than heavy shading – Solid black shading eats up more artist time and ink
  • Choose a smaller placement – Small tattoos on wrists, fingers, or shoulders are quicker to apply
  • Find artists with lower hourly rates – Compare artist rates and find the best value, while ensuring quality portfolio
  • Ask about deals or specials – Many shops offer Friday the 13th flash sales or holiday discounts

Doing your research helps find artists and designs that fit your budget. And remember – a tattoo’s permanence means it’s worth investing for quality application and chosen art that you’ll be proud to wear for life!


When it comes to tattoo ink, specialty colors that are rare, difficult to make, or require exotic pigments tend to be the most expensive. This includes fluorescent, white, gold, and some shades of purple, yellow, and orange. On average, expect to pay $30-60+ per ounce for these specialty ink colors compared to $10-25 for common colors like black, blue, red and green.

But the tattoo ink is only part of the total cost. The artist’s time, complexity of the design, placement, and amount of detail and colors add to the price. A large back piece can end up costing thousands. For budget-friendly body art, go for simpler designs, smaller placements, black ink, and find artists with reasonable hourly rates. With some care taken to control costs, beautiful, quality tattoo art can be affordable even on a tight budget.