The EU is known for strict consumer protection, and coming from the US, honestly, it’s refreshing. They just laid the law down to protect 1/4 of their citizens – the portion of Europeans likely to get a tattoo. In the US, we seem to be going the other way, allowing corporations to pollute and poison and sell consumer products that kill us and our animal friends. Take Glyphosate, AKA RoundUp. Monstanto/Bayer makes billions on this chemical because it’s just so easy to kill weeds. They spend Billions making sure we continue to spray it all over the place and give ourselves and our neighbors cancer in the process….Ah, unchecked capitalism at it’s best. My point is that if a growing tattoo industry has anything to say about it (or “pay about it” to congress), cadmium red pigment is – or will be- determined to be safe in your skin. 1/3 Americans will be intimately affected by any tattoo legislation.

The EU has determined that it won’t go on allowing tattoo shops to subcutaneously inject car paint pigments into people. They have outlawed 4000 chemicals from tattoo inks. As an ink distributor, I am happy about this – because what allows innovation more than an industry-wide challenge. Everyone loses a little so we may all win more in the end. Many challenges in history like this have bred innovation, such as in paints and plastics, In fact, governmental regulation on industry has given us a safer, longer life in general. I say we keep it up! Currently, there is no regulation of tattoo inks in the US, despite widespread acceptance and involvement in the practice.

How tattoos work: a review

In order to achieve the effect of ink perpetually on skin, tattoo ink is injected into the dermis – a layer of the skin – and stays in the skin for a lifetime. Over time, macrophages take up pigment and may transport it into the lymphatic system and lymph nodes.

This is from the European Chemicals Agency website:

“Tattoo inks and permanent make-up are a mix of several chemicals. They may contain hazardous substances that cause skin allergies and other more serious health impacts, such as genetic mutations and cancer.

Ink pigments can also migrate from the skin to different organs, such as the lymph nodes and liver. Sometimes tattoos are removed using a laser that breaks down pigments and other substances into smaller particles. If these include harmful chemicals, the removal process will free them to circulate in the body.

As chemicals used in tattoo inks and permanent make-up may stay in the body for life, there is also the possibility for long-term exposure to the potentially harmful ingredients.”

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), a group of chemicals which are known carcinogens are found in tattoo inks. Other hazardous components included barium, copper, mercury, and amines.

What’s going to happen

The question now is can we create vibrant inks that our bodies can display a little safer? EU officials claim that alternatives exist for each of these 4000 banned chemicals, within reason. There is an extension on the ban for the very useful Pigment Blue 15:3 and Pigment Green 7 in order to give enough time to find or create a safer alternative. There is no new regulation on inks in the US yet.

Moving forward

Stick and Poke LLC will seek out Ink companies responding to this legislation. We’d like to be the first US company to sell EU standards, totally toxin-free, healthy inks, that use a transparent, safe production process using the highest grade, most stable and natural compounds for the body.

We do not sell the glow in the dark or UV inks because of the obvious reactive nature of these unregulated chemicals, and we strive to continue to keep safety as priority number 1 for our customers. Until recently, our ink producer got the stamp of approval from CTL in Germany – the go to lab for ink testing in Europe. With the new ban, many producers are shuffling, and we will be looking to the forefront for the best inks for your skin.

To view the MSDS of our ink, click here.

Keep posted for updates!