How To Tell If Your Kuro Sumi Ink Is Real Or Fake!

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As the popularity of Kuro Sumi ink continues to grow at an exponential pace in the west for various types of tattoos, we have seen more and more people reaching out to ask a range of questions about their Kuro Sumi ink. The most popular question that we see asked every single month is definitely if your Kuro Sumi ink is real or fake and we can definitely see why so many people reach out about this.

Until a few years ago, it was difficult to find real Kuro Sumi ink in North America and Europe as very few people were importing it from Japan and there were a large number of counterfeit bottles in circulation with low-quality ink. Thankfully though. over the last two years or so, there are a number of official import deals in North America and Europe so it is much easier to get real Kuro Sumi ink outside of Japan these days.

That said though, due to so many people reaching out about checking if their ink is real or fake and there still being some counterfeit bottles in circulation, we decided to publish this dedicated article. Our hope is that we will be able to help our readers avoid the counterfeit products and ensure that you are getting real Kuro Sumi ink but the chances of you getting the real product as considerably higher these days with the majority of bottles being real now.

How To Tell If Your Kuro Sumi Ink Is Real Or Fake!

There are a number of tell tale signs that you are able to use to tell if your bottle of Kuro Sumi ink is real or not with the majority of the tests being quick and easy to do yourself. Before we go any further though, we want to quickly say that the color of the bottle is NOT a way to tell if your Kuro Sumi ink is real or fake. Different colors and types of real Kuro Sumi ink have different color bottles to make it easier to know what color or type of ink it is that you are getting.

For example, the more popular Kuro Sumi ink comes in a white/cream bottle with a brown label with gold writing. The Kuro Sumi colored inks come with a bottle the color of the ink contained within it while still having the brown label and gold writing but both products are real. We often see people making the mistake that their Kuro Sumi ink is fake simply due to the bottle color but this is usually incorrect.

To make this even more confusing, there is now an official Kuro Sumi glow in the dark ink product on the market that has a slightly different style of bottle again. That said though, it is rare that counterfeiters will target the flow in the dark inks due to it being expensive to add the correct ingredients to ensure that the ink will glow long enough for it to get to the customer.

Avoid Online Bulk Dealers

Due to the tattoo community being such a tight knit community who want the best for their paying clients and often go above and beyond to protect them, there is a list of online retailers that have been caught out selling fake Kuro Sumi ink products multiple times. Although these retailers may now sell real Kiro Sumi ink we feel that it simply not worth taking the risk due to real Kiro Sumi ink being available in a number of locations in both North America and Europe now.

Although they may have changed their ways by the time you read this, the list of vendors who have been previously caught selling fake Kuro Sumi ink are Online Tattoo Wholesale, TMart, DHGate, TheLAShop, Cheap-Tattoo, Tattoo Kits Cheap, Wholesale Tattoo Kits, and Tattoo-Set.Com. Although you can order from those retailers if you really want, we would recommend that our readers avoid them if possible as in our opinion, it is simply not worth the risk.

Please also note that the list above is not intended to be an extensive list of all online retailers who have been caught selling fake Kuro Sumi ink. It is just a list of the vendors that we have seen multiple trusted members of the tattoo community say have sold them fake Kuro Sumi ink in the past.

Does Amazon Sell Real Kuro Sumi Ink?

There are vendors on Amazon who do sell real Kuro Sumi ink for both the regular Kuro Sumi ink and the Kuro Sumi colored inks making it much easier to get the real ink delivered to your door with ease. The easiest way to check if you are ordering your Kuro Sumi ink from a reputable dealer who has a good reputation is to click the “See All Buying Options” on the Amazon product page and check the vendor who is actually selling it.

In North America, both “Dermasoft” and “Auctilliance” are reputable vendors of real Kuro Sumi ink with “Premier tattoo supplies” being a reputable vendor in Europe. That said, as time goes on and more and more people start to import real Kuro Sumi ink from Japan, we would expect this list to grow as the demand for Kuro Sumi ink for tattoo work continues to grow.

We know that we also get a large chunk of our readers from Australia but to our knowledge, Kuro Sumi ink is available directly from the online Amazon Kuro Sumi store for our Australlian readers making it much easier to know that you are getting the real product from them. At the time of writing though, there are no official accounts on Amazon for North America or Europe so their official import partners are as close as you can get.

Real Vs Fake Kuro Sumi Ink Bottles

Although the counterfeiters do go to great lengths to try and make the packaging of their fake Kuro Sumi ink appear to be real, there are a number of tell tale signs that counterfeit products are fake if you look close enough. The most obvious difference between a real and fake bottle is the neck with a real bottle of Kuro Sumi ink having around a 2mm space between the shoulder of the bottle and the cap on the standard half-ounce bottle where as the fakes tend to have the bottom of the cap come all the way down without a space.

Both real and fake bottles of Kuro Sumi ink have the groove around the logo area on the front of the bottle offering additional insight into real and fake bottles. A bottle of real Kuro Sumi ink has a rim width of around 1mm to the left and right of the logo where as fake bottles tend to be around 2mm. At the bottom of the logo area, a real bottle has a rim of around 3mm between the rim and the bottom of the bottle where as fake bottles are usually 5mm.

We know that it can be difficult to understand what to look from on your Kuro Sumi ink bottles from just reading text so we have added the image below. We have highlighted the areas of the bottle that we described above to try and help our readers be able to check their own bottles of Kuro Sumi ink to see if they are fake or not.

Check Your Packaging

One of the quickest and easiest ways to tell if your bottle of Kuro Sumi ink is real or fake is to check the packaging that the bottle comes in. All official Kuro Sumi ink products are shipped in the white box that has the Kuro Sumi stamp with the Dragon logo where as the fake Kuro Sumi ink tends to come in heat-shrink plastic to help the counterfeiters keep their costs as low as possible.

The issues with using this method to identify if your Kuro Sumi ink is real or fake is that many of the people who do import real Kuro Sumi ink from Japan will put their orders in for bulk orders and then open up the boxes to sell individual bottles. Due to this, even if your bottle of Kuro Sumi ink does not come in their white box, it may still be a real product.

The official import partners for Kuro Sumi ink tend not to heat shrink these individual bottles prior to shipping them out to the customer though. This means that if your bottles do come in heat shrink wrap then there is an increased chance of them being fakes rather than the real product.

How Does The Ink Dry

Real Kuro Sumi ink tends to dry into a kind of thin, shiny gel like film making it easier to workout if the ink is real or not. Although the fake Kuro Sumi inks on the market tend to dry in a number of different ways, very few of them will dry to the standard of the real product with most usually leaving a powdery residue rather than a gel residue.

You can quickly and easily test this by putting some of your ink onto some spare paper and leaving it for a few hours to see how it drys. Once dry, give it a little scratch to see if the dry ink is flaky and dusty, if it is then the product is probably fake but this method is not one hundred percent accurate as the conditions in your home such as temperature and humidity can sometimes affect the ink while drying.

Another step that you are able to take is to shake your bottle of Kuro Sumi ink and then pour a little of it into a glass that you can see through. If the pigment separates in less than half an hour then this is probably due to a higher than expected alcohol content in the ink suggesting that it may be fake as real Kuro Sumi ink tends to take over an hour to separate.


That brings our article going over how to tell if your Kuro Sumi Ink is real or fake to a close. We hope that we have been able to help you identify if your bottle of Kuro Sumi ink is real or not but unfortunately, counterfeiters are always updating their methods to try and sneak their fake products into the market making it difficult to always stay on top of the ways that you are able to tell the fake bottles from real.