Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Not Safe Enough…

May 9th, 2011 by

Though I’ve discussed it in the past on this site, I still feel the need to address the issue of safety issues regarding tattoo ink.  Recently I was planning on getting a new tattoo.  I was really looking forward to it, but then I started to read about the problems that tattoo ink can potentially cause.  Aside from the occasional itchy fit every few months on the surface, I’ve never had any real problems with my tattoos after the fact.  But what I began to learn is that sometimes the after effects of bad tattoo ink aren’t immediately noticeable and that sometimes it’s all just a matter of the ingredients of the ink flowing around inside your system.  I don’t want industrial strength chemicals cruising around inside my lymph nodes and all that, so I decided to start looking into it all a little bit more.

From what I’ve read, vegan ink is a decent alternative to many of the other inks out there on the market.  The supposed problem with vegan ink however, is that it doesn’t last as long as other inks, causing it to fade much quicker.  I went into one of my local tattoo studios with this on my mind and asked the shop manager if they used vegan ink.  He initially seemed a little taken aback, as though it was a question that he didn’t regularly hear.  Regardless, he told me that yes, they did use vegan ink and that I could easily have my tattoo done with it if I so desired.  I then asked him if it was true that vegan ink doesn’t last as long as the regular inks.  On this one he wasn’t sure at all, but he assured me that touch ups were free and that if I got a vegan ink tattoo and it started to fade, I could always come back and get it touched up.  Fair enough, but did I really want to be running back to get touch ups every year or so?  Not really, no.

This article further explores the issue of what’s going on with tattoo inks.  At present time, there is no regulating body on the composition of tattoo ink.  The FDA has recently begun looking into the problem, but they did so only after complaints from consumers who’ve experienced adverse side affects from a tattoo.  The FDA’s investigation has found reason to be concerned:

‘FDA’s own investigation into the chemical composition of inks and their long-term safety has turned up some other concerns. For example, when tattoos fade, as they do over time, what happens to the ink? Where does it go in the body? Researchers are exploring that question, and they think the body rids itself of the inks as it does certain bacteria and other foreign matter.

But some inks — perhaps the reds, oranges, yellows and even whites — may be problematic. The skin cells containing the ink can be killed by sunlight and ink-breakdown products may disperse through the body, scientists say. Research has already found that certain types of pigment migrate from the tattoo site to the body’s lymph nodes. This could potentially damage the lymphatic system, which filters out disease-causing organisms.’

It is slightly reassuring that the FDA is beginning to actually look at these problems, though it’s still far from a real solution.  What needs to happen is transparent and very thorough research into tattoo inks by the very organisations that are meant to regulate and observe potential health threats to the general public.  This needs to happen sooner rather than later.  After all, wouldn’t you like to know exactly what’s being put into your skin the next time that you go in to get a tattoo?  And wouldn’t you like to know exactly what is safe and what isn’t safe for your body?  I know that I sure would.

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