How to Dilute Tattoo Ink?

How to Dilute Tattoo Ink?

In order to create the perfect tattoo, you need to start with perfect ink. And in order to have perfect ink, you need to dilute it properly. Sometimes the color of the ink is too concentrated and you need to lighten it up a bit. Other times, you might have old ink that has dried out and lost its color intensity. This epic guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to dilute tattoo ink – from the basics, to more advanced techniques. We’ll answer common questions and provide useful tips that will help you create beautiful tattoos that will last a lifetime!

When Would You Need to Dilute a Tattoo Ink?

There are a few reasons you might need to know how to dilute tattoo ink. Let’s look at them in more detail.

To mix shades together

Mixing colors is a nice and useful skill for a tattoo artist to have. It allows you to create new shades and hues that wouldn’t be possible with the standard colors. But sometimes, you just can’t get the right color mix with inks.

To mix shades together

Tattoo inks are usually sold in concentrated form. This is because they need to be strong enough to penetrate the skin and stay there for a long time. However, this also means that they can be pretty difficult to combine. To deal with that, you can reduce the concentration of the pigment. This is usually necessary when working with very bright or very dark inks, as they can be difficult to work with at full strength.

To get the right shade

There are times when you may need to adjust the shade of the existing ink. Maybe you didn’t like how light or dark it is, or perhaps you want to create a color gradient shading on the tattoo. In these cases, diluting the ink and doing a cover-up tattoo can be an effective way to fix the problem.

Of course, before you start playing with the concentration of your tattoo ink, it’s important to consult with your client to see if they are happy with how the tattoo may look. If they are, then there’s no need to make any changes. But if they’re not satisfied, then it’s worth considering whether or not diluting the ink is the right solution.

To create a washed look

Another common reason to want to know how to dilute tattoo ink is because you want your tattoo to have more of a washed out look. This can be achieved by using less concentrated tattoo inks, which are created by adding more distilled water to the mix.

The end result will be a tattoo that has softer lines and overall less intensity than if it were done with undiluted inks. This can be a great way to get a vintage or faded look, especially on larger tattoos. [1], [2]

What Can You Use to Dilute a Tattoo Ink?

Now that we’ve looked at some of the reasons why you might need to know how to dilute tattoo ink, let’s take a look at what you can use to do it.

Using Distilled Water

Distilled water is the most common way to dilute tattoo ink. It’s cheap, easy to find, and is easy to use.

Using Distilled Water

Add ink into inkwell cups

The first thing you need to do is gather your supplies. For this method, you will need distilled water, a clean work area, and inkwell cups. Once you have everything set up, it’s time to start adding ink into the inkwell cups. Slowly add ink with either a dropper or syringe until the cup is about as full as you need it to be.

Add distilled water

Once the ink is in the cup, it’s time to start adding distilled water. The ratio of ink to water will determine the shade of the tattoo. If you want a lighter tattoo, you will need to add more water to the mix. Conversely, if you want a darker tattoo, you will need to use less water.

In general, you want to add the water carefully so that you don’t end up with an overly diluted tattoo. Start by adding a few drops at a time only.


After you have added the desired amount of water, it’s time to stir. Use a clean stirrer to mix the ink and water together until you have a homogenous mixture. Once you have reached your desired consistency, it’s time to start tattooing!

Using Distilled Water

Add white tattoo ink if you want a lighter shade

If you want to lighten the tattoo even more, you can add white tattoo ink to the mixture. White tattoo ink is highly pigmented and will help to lighten the overall shade of the tattoo. Simply add a small amount of white tattoo ink to the mixture and stir until combined.

On the other hand, if you want a more dimmed but darker color, then you can try adding black tattoo ink. Just remember that a little goes a long way with black tattoo ink!

Avoid using deionized water

One thing to avoid when diluting tattoo ink is using deionized water. Some sellers may sell deionized water instead of distilled water, but it’s not the same thing. Deionized water has had all of the minerals removed from it and can actually cause your tattoo ink to dry out. It can actually cause the tattoo ink to break down, making it less effective and more difficult to work with. If you want to use water that has been treated, make sure it is distilled water.

Risks of this method

Even though this method is relatively safe, there are still some risks associated with it. One of the biggest risks is incompatibility of your ink and water. If the water you are using is not compatible with the ink, it can cause the ink to break down and become less effective.

Sometimes using distilled water and not following necessary safety procedures can also lead to infection. So it is very important that you take the important safety measures when using this method.

Another risk is over-diluting your tattoo ink. This can cause your tattoo to fade more quickly and may require touch-ups more often. You can fix an ink that is too thick, but you can’t fix an ink that is too thin. So, be careful not to add too much water to the mixture. [1], [3]

Use witch hazel

Witch hazel is a natural astringent that can be used to lighten and fade tattoos. It’s also gentle on the skin and usually shouldn’t cause any irritation. To use witch hazel, simply get a bottle of the witch hazel solution and add it drop by drop into your tattoo ink. Once you’ve added the desired amount, give it a good stirring and apply it to your tattoo.

Use witch hazel

Keep in mind that some people may be allergic to witch hazel, so it’s always best to do a patch test first before using it on your tattoo. [2]


Glycerin is another common tattoo lightening agent that can be used to dilute your tattoo ink. It’s a little more harsh on the skin than witch hazel, so it’s important to only use a small amount. Simply add a few drops into your tattoo ink and again, stir. Once you’ve added the desired amount, apply it to your tattoo. However, glycerin is known to make the ink thicker, so it’s important to only use a small amount of it for the task. [4]


What can I use to thin out tattoo ink?

Many artists use distilled water to thin out tattoo inks, as it is sterile and does not contain any impurities that could potentially affect the ink. Some inks also come with a thinner or reducer that can be added to the ink to help achieve the desired consistency.

Keep in mind that adding too much liquid to your tattoo ink will result in a runny consistency that will be difficult to work with and may cause the ink to spread outside of the intended area.

How do you make tattoo ink lighter?

There are a few ways to make tattoo ink lighter. One way is to add more water to the ink while you’re mixing it. This will make the color lighter and help the ink flow more easily through your machine. Another way to lighten tattoo ink is to add glycerin or witch hazel. These ingredients will help break down the pigment in the tattoo ink, making it lighter.

You can also try adding some white ink to your tattoo ink to lighten the color. This is a common technique used by tattoo artists to create lighter shades of color.

Can you dilute tattoo ink with water?

The short answer is yes. If you add water to tattoo ink, it will thin out the pigment and make it easier to apply to your skin. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind before diluting your tattoo ink.

The first thing to consider is that adding water to tattoo ink may change the color of the pigment. This is because water may dilute the pigment particles, making them lighter in color. So, if you’re looking to lighten the color of your tattoo, adding water is a good way to do it. Just keep in mind that the more water you add, the lighter the color will be.

Always use only distilled water when diluting tattoo ink. This is because tap water can contain impurities that can affect the color of your tattoo.

Can you dilute color tattoo ink?

Yes, you can dilute color tattoo ink, but it’s important to note that the results will vary depending on the type of ink you’re using. For example, some inks are more pigmented than others, so they may not be diluted as much as you’d like. Additionally, the darker the color of your tattoo ink, the more difficult it will be to lighten it up. If you’re looking to make a drastic change to your tattoo’s appearance, it’s best to opt-in for another color entirely.

Useful Video: Tattoo tops how to dilute tattoo ink for greywash


Diluting tattoo ink can create some really cool effects. By diluting, you can achieve shades of any color that are unique and interesting. If you’re looking for a washed look, it can do the trick as well! If you’re looking for a natural way to dilute your tattoo ink, distilled water, glycerin, and witch hazel are all great options. Each of these ingredients has its own benefits, so experiment until you find the right mix for you. Remember to always use a sterile needle when mixing your ink to prevent any infections and protect your client’s health. Thanks for reading!