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Tattoo artists are struggling as coloured tattoo ink is banned in the EU

Tattoo artists are struggling as coloured tattoo ink is banned in the EU

It's getting tougher for tattoo artists after chemicals in coloured ink got banned in the European Union

It's getting to be a tough old gig for tattoo artists in the aftermath of a European Union ban on thousands of chemicals which make up coloured ink.

The EU's Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals ban landed in January 2022 after about 4,000 chemicals typically found in coloured tattoo ink were outlawed.

While the chemicals were outlawed in January 2021, manufacturers were given a grace period so they could find different formulations for their inks and hopefully switch over to safer mixtures.

The chemicals were slapped with a ban after they were judged to pose 'a potential risk to human health' and might be harmful to people in the form of 'cancer or genetic mutations'.

Back when the ban was about to come into effect tattoo artists had warned that progress on finding new formulations for coloured inks was going slowly, leaving them facing the risk turning customers away.

Such colourful tattoos, but you'd better hope that stuff isn't going to give you cancer.
Findlay / Alamy Stock Photo

They also raised concerns that if people wanting tattoos with coloured inks couldn't get them from professional artists then they might go looking for back alley tattoo shops that were operating illegally.

Unfortunately it seems as though ink manufacturers weren't able to work out all the alternatives in time as following the ban coming into effect tattoo artists said they were struggling.

Lack of inks mean artists 'suddenly lose a gigantic part of your palette' and can't always fulfil the requests of their customers.

One artist said shortly after the ban that it 'will be a mess' for her work and just didn't have an answer for clients wanting to know if she could still do their tattoos.

It's been easier for tattoo artists who only work in black, but even then some black inks have also been found to contain the banned chemicals.

An all black tattoo can be suitable depending on the artist's style and nature of the job, but it doesn't work for everyone.

Last year the EU banned 4,000 harmful chemicals, many of them found in tattoo inks.
G Scammell / Alamy Stock Photo

Studies into tattoo inks found that almost half contained chemicals which could trigger cancerous mutations, and research discovered that lots of the ink samples they tested contained substances which weren't mentioned on packaging.

56 samples were tested and 23 were found to contain azo-compounds which are safe by themselves but can degenerate through exposure to bacteria in the skin or from too much UV light, like sunlight.

From there they could turn carcinogenic, meaning they can end up causing cancer.

By the way, if you've got a tattoo you think might have been made with carcinogenic ink and you want to get it lasered off did you know you actually pee the ink out?

Featured Image Credit: Nigel Bowles / mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: World News, Health