What does the EU ban on colour ink mean for the future of Tattoos

There has been controversy on many tattoo ingredients over the years, with inks being constantly under review. On January 4th 2022 the European Union put into place a new ban on coloured tattoo ink – the main question is though why have they been banned and what does the EU ban on colour ink tattoos mean for the future of tattoos?

Why has the EU banned colour ink?

The restrictions that came in at the beginning of 2022, apply to certain inks that may cause harm when used on under the skin and this means mainly coloured ink are affected. Especially blue and green ink as it is believed they could have carcinogenic effects. Following REACH’s investigation which started in 2015, the European Chemicals Agency worries that chemicals cause cancer or genetic mutations so are calling for safer solutions instead of implementing a ban of tattooing altogether. The problem lies in the fact that ink pigments can migrate from the skin to different organs.


So understandably,  tattoo artists are now worrying about the vibrancy and availability or coloured inks going into the future. Especially as some artists in the EU have been having to turn away customers wanting colourful inks and permanent make up due to there not being a suitable substitute that meets the needs of the tattoo art and is European commission approved. This includes three-quarters of Belgian tattoo shops that do not have a supply of ink that conforms with the new regulations

Tattoo artists say a new pan-EU ban on thousands of chemicals used in colouring inks could hurt their industry and that there is no firm evidence to prove harmful effects linking to tattoos. Not only will it be harder to source suitable ink manufacturers but it could potentially put people off getting a tattoo with colour in the future. The problem with these regulations are also raising fears that it could lead to an increase in tattoos given on the black market which would prove even more health risks to people. This would also affect the credibility of the tattoo industry if people are using untested pigments.

However, as it stands further restrictions will be put into place next year. The EU has given time for the tattoo industry to find alternatives for blue 15:3 and green 7 as they are associated with high levels of toxic chemicals and are the main component of 60% of all tattoo inks.

Although, a petition with 175,000 signatures has already been started to ‘save the pigments’  before the January 4th 2023 deadline REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) has set for suppliers.

Unless there is a solution making inks for tattoos and permanent make up safer, services in the EU could be restricted. Not only with the colours, but also consequently restricting the artists creative freedom with certain designs.

It is important to note though that these movements are not a new thing, with the regulatory board already prohibiting the use of 4,000 chemicals that were part of the colours used in tattoos.

Future of tattoos in the UK

Currently, in the UK, the ban has not been imposed and instead law makers are calling for tattoo manufacturers and artists to provide information about the chemicals in tattoo inks, as it’s both tattoos and permanent makeup solutions that use them.

Luckily, a lot of harmful chemicals have already been banned in the UK and other alternatives have been sourced to make tattoos and permanent makeup safer. Please note, people who already have colour tattoos are advised not to worry about the latest regulations if they haven’t experienced any health issues, but if you do have concerns to contact a medical professional.


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