Tattoo artists in the EU will not be allowed to use coloured ink as of next month.
Tattoo artists in the EU will not be allowed to use coloured ink as of January 4 due to the bloc’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) outlawing the 4,000 chemicals typically used in colourful tattoo ink last January.
The regulatory body said the chemicals used in coloured ink – some of which are already banned in products applied on the skin – can cause ‘cancer or genetic mutations.’
However, REACH insists ‘the aim is not to ban tattooing but to make the colours used in tattoos and permanent make-up safer.’
Ink suppliers were given a deadline of January 4 2022 to find REACH-approved chemicals to create colours, but tattoo artists say that suppliers have been slow on finding alternatives, meaning it is harder for many people to get colourful tattoos.
Belgian artist Marjorie Petit, who helps run the Duck Art Tattoo parlour in Mechelen, told Politico: “We now every week get messages from manufacturers that they’re working on it, but the communication about that is not quite transparent. So they say it’s coming, it’s coming… But when?”
The most popular colours are Pigment Blue 15:3 and Pigment Green 7, and a petition to ‘save the pigments’ has gained over 175,000 signatures.
REACH has given ink suppliers up until January 4, 2023, to come up with alternatives for these two most popular pigments.
However, supporters believe a ban “would have a lasting negative impact on the economic competitiveness of European tattooists and pigmenters vis-à-vis providers outside the EU, and would seriously jeopardize the very existence of this profession.”
There are also fears that people who want coloured tattoos will end up going to ‘backyard artists’ who offer illegal tattoos.
But REACH hopes ink manufacturers will be able to substitute the ‘hazardous’ products before it comes to this.
Scientists have not yet come to a consensus about tattoo ink and its link to cancer, and while some chemicals in tattoo ink have proven to be carcinogenic, some reports say this is ‘coincidental.’
Nevertheless, REACH’s investigation which began in 2015 ended in a recommendation to ‘make tattoo inks safer.’
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