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On the Horizon: Tattoo and Permanent Makeup Ink Restrictions

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Tattoo Ink

In a recent report, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) proposed restrictions on substances in tattoo and permanent makeup inks in response to potential skin complications.

The report was submitted with several other European regulatory bodies, including the Norwegian Environment Agency, Istituto Superiore di Sanita, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the Federal Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.

Intentional tattoos using permanent ink are the subject of the proposed restriction, including:

  • Decorative tattoos—drawings, designs or inscriptions created using modern tattoo inks and electric machines, which make up the majority of today’s tattoos;
  • Traditional tattoos—those with more culturally significant purpose than decorative tattoos (such as rite-of-passage tribal tattoos) and created with materials other than those used for decorative tattoos; and
  • Medical tattoos—those employed as a diagnostic method or therapeutic modality.


While the majority of the ECHA’s cited health complications involve skin issues, the report also noted internal issues that may arise if a pigment migrates from a tattoo site.

If the restrictions are passed, tattoo ink manufacturers, importers and distributers would be obligated to ensure that non-compliant inks are not placed on the EU market. Additionally, tattoo and permanent makeup artists would need extra vigilance concerning the inks they use. The ECHA expects the proposed restrictions to be practical, monitorable and cost-effective throughout the supply chain.

Public consultation for the restriction is set to run from Dec. 20, 2017–June 20, 2018. Early comments submitted by Feb. 16, 2018, are welcomed by the ECHA to assist in the first discussion of the restriction proposal.