Tattoo artists in EU face restrictions on coloured ink

Tattoo artists in EU face restrictions on coloured ink
New rules on chemical concentrations set to apply from 4 January

New EU restrictions on coloured tattoo ink are set to come into force within days as the bloc seeks to protect citizens from potentially harmful chemicals.

Some 4,000 substances used in the production of coloured inks and permanent make-up will be limited from 4 January in a move that has put artists across the continent on edge.

While member states approved the rules a year ago, a 12-month transition period was granted to give the industry time to alter its ink recipes.

For two shades in particular, “Pigment Blue 15:3” and “Pigment Green 7”, a 24-month grace period was allowed because they are difficult to substitute.

Products that contain the newly controlled chemicals in concentrations greater than prescribed will be banned from sale by the sweeping new “Reach” legislation.

These substances include “certain azodyes, carcinogenic aromatic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals and methanol”, according to EU documents.

The EU says its new rules are designed to protect customers from skin irritation or worse problems, including cancer.

However, strong evidence of a potential cancer risk from tattoos is hard to come by, and European tattoo artists have complained that the new rules will damage business.

A petition set up to protest the restriction of Blue 15:3 and Green 7 in particular says these are “existential” for the industry and “of the utmost importance”.

One proponent cites a German governmental review which found that information about the substances’ toxicity was incomplete.