New EU regulations affecting tattoo inks will come into force on January 5, 2022. To protect European citizens, thousands of hazardous chemicals found in tattoo inks and permanent makeup are restricted in the EU under the REACH Regulation. According to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), tattoo inks contain hazardous substances that cause skin allergies and other more serious health effects such as genetic mutations and cancer. Color pigments could also enter various organs such as lymph nodes and the liver through the skin .
As a result of the new regulation, many substances contained in tattoo inks, such as binding agents and preservatives, may only be used in very low concentrations. This means that most of the inks currently in use may no longer be used. According to suppliers, this affects the entire range of inks, except for a few black and white shades. According to them, there are hardly any EU-compliant alternatives so far .
Tattoo colors can contain up to 100 substances in addition to the dye. They make the color last longer or ensure a good consistency. Among them are heavy metals such as nickel or cobalt or substances that are considered carcinogenic. Regulation of the ingredients is, therefore, useful for the protection of consumers, especially since it is clear that the tattoo colors remain in the body, even if the tattoo has been removed. Otherwise, there is still relatively little research into how the colors and substances used behave in the body.
The industry takes a critical view of the new regulations, especially concerning the problems of their implementation and the expected economic consequences for the industry [3,4]. However, the first manufacturers have already announced REACH-compliant tattoo colors for 2022 [5–7]. However, the colors will be different than before, as different pigments and formulations will be used.
From 2023, there will also be a ban on the two pigments Green7 and Blue15. At the moment, there is no adequate replacement for the blue pigment in particular.
- Tattoo inks and permanent make-up, ECHA, Helsinki, Finland
- I AM INK, Austria
- Save the Pigments, European petition by Michl Dirks and Erich Mähnert
- European Society of Tattoo and Pigment Research (ESTP), Copenhagen, Denmark
- World Famous Limitless von World Famous Ink, Charlotte, NC, USA
- Eternal Ink, Brighton, MI, USA
- Panthera Ink, S.Ferdinando di Puglia, Italy
Also of Interest
- Clever Picture: Tattooing From a Chemical Point of View,
What are tattoo inks? Where in the skin is the tattoo? What happens when a tattoo is removed?
- Focus Article: To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo?,
Henrik Petersen, Klaus Roth,