The EU Ink Ban’s Impact on the Tattoo Community

Coming into effect on Tuesday, January 4th, 2022, the EU Ink ban has shocked the tattoo community in a number of ways. The European Union has updated regulations on chemicals, also known as ‘Reach Regulation’, which was agreed upon by all member states of the EU in 2020. The ban specifically cites around 4,000 chemicals, some of which are commonplace in tattoo inks, to be banned from use in tattooing. The rationale, according to the EU, behind this move has been for public safety. However, they assure it is not meant to put a ban or restriction on tattoo art. Fearing that tattoo inks can be dangerous to the consumer, causing skin allergies or even more serious conditions such as genetic mutations or cancer, the EU decided to act.

What does this mean for Tattoo Artists?

Under these new regulations, the biggest effect will be seen via the ban of use on isopropyl alcohol (which is commonly found in tattoo inks) causing a major shift in ink manufacturing and where artists are able to purchase their supplies. Although alternatives are available, tattoo artists admit that they will have to get used to the consistency and functionality in the practice of these alternative inks.

On a separate note, some pigments included in the ban are much harder to find alternatives for. Specifically Pigment Blue 15 and Pigment Green 7 which are heavily used in the tattoo community. Artists are worried that the ban specifically on these colors will have an impact on the palette they are able to work with and therefore will ultimately have an impact on their art as a whole. In response, the EU has given a grace period of use on these two pigments to allow time for alternatives to be found.

Artists established within the tattoo community worry that the ban could lead to an increase in black market tattoos, ultimately creating more of a health risk than seen prior to these new regulations.

What does this mean for Tattoo Removal?

The EU Ink ban focuses primarily around the public’s safety and ensuring the long term safety of individuals pursuing body art. The European Commission released a statement that said “The restriction covers carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic substances, chemicals prohibited in cosmetics, skin sensitizers, skin and eye irritants, metal impurities, aromatic amines, and some pigments”. The European Chemicals Agency (ECA) worries that ink pigments are able to move into organs outside of the skin including the lymphatic system and liver which over time could cause carcinogenic effects.

In this same regard, the primary method of action conducted by lasers through laser tattoo removal is to break down ink into smaller particles which, in theory, are then processed by your lymphatic system eventually moving through your blood, lymphatic, gastrointestinal, and urinary systems before hopefully leaving the body. However, it is not yet known what percentage of ink is completely removed from the body through laser tattoo removal and what percentage remains in your body. The ink may not be visible on the skin any longer, but the worry is that these potentially carcinogenic particles remain deeper in your body’s organs.

Alternatively and thankfully, for those concerned about the potential health risks involved in keeping your tattoo ink or removing it through the laser tattoo removal method there are non-laser methods available. The most effective non-laser method currently on the market utilizes a Trans Epidermal Pigment Release system which completely removes the tattoo ink from the body, extracted from the skin via an escharotic approach, this system is called Tatt2Away.

With the increase concern over tattoo ink safety and their potential carcinogenic effects, the non-laser, actual ink removal from the body method that Tatt2Away utilizes will become the safest most effective tattoo removal method on the market.

The EU Ink Ban: What does it mean for Tattoo Removal? was originally published in Tatt2Away on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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