Chaotic Tattoo Ink Market and No Improved Customer Safety after New EU Regulation

by Science Editor

Tattoo pigment regulation is often seen as a thorn in the side of tattoo industry members and pigment manufacturers, and at the same time viewed as Pandora's Box by those tasked with formulating and implementing the regulations.

Tattoo industry members are always anxious about the introduction of new pigment regulations because they fear that restrictions on traditional tattoo ink and cosmetic tattoo pigment colourants will result in less colours to chose from and less attractive results from their work, yet at the same time they are proponents of safer inks and pigments to use and seek more certainty from the regulators about which colourants can be considered safe and approved for use.

Regulators on the other hand are anxious about labeling any tattoo ink or cosmetic tattoo pigment colourant as "safe for use" because they feel that there is insufficient data to label any colourant as safe for injecting into the skin and creation of such a list would imply their endorsement of tattooing which they remain either opposed to or ambivalent towards.

The dilemma is that the gap between these two sides creates a gulf of uncertainty, and within that gulf risk remains for the tattoo client.

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Chaotic Tattoo Ink Market and No Improved Costumer Safety after New EU Regulation.

Abstract: Article author comments
"Facing high popularity of tattoos in modern time around the world, it is no longer acceptable that tattoo inks remain so little and so variably regulated".
Industry Significance Rating:

Informative - General industry awareness.


Serup J. Chaotic Tattoo Ink Market and No Improved Costumer Safety after New EU Regulation. Dermatology. 2022 Nov 30:1-4. doi: 10.1159/000526338. Epub ahead of print.

Authors: Jørgen Serup.
Links:  Article Link (Full Text) Link to Publisher Pdf Link Search Google
for Sources & Quotes

This is highly regarded Professor of Dermatology has taken a special interest in industrial pigments, skin and tattoo complications and has authored or co-authored numerous articles on this topic. In this publican Professor Serup chastises that the "EU tried in 2003 to launch a regulation but gave up due to lacking scientific insight".

It seems that in spite of the introduction of new EU regulations relating to the colourants used in conventional tattoo inks and cosmetic tattoo pigments "it has not been convincingly argued or documented that the regulation reduces those tattoo complications hospital tattoo clinics really see".

Professor Serup makes some compelling arguments about the inability to police the purchase and use of inks and pigments because of the international nature of product sales and the fact that certifications supplied with those product may or may not be reliable. Professor Serup also present a case report of an inflammatory skin reaction in a tattoo which was made using ink from a
"manufacturer supplied with the ink analysis certificate and claimed the ink compatible with the EU REACH regulatory requirement on tattoo ink". 

The question is have the new EU regulations made the situation safer for those who chose to have a tattoo or not? Or has an opportunity been missed?


Always source your cosmetic tattoo pigment from a manufacturer whom is in full compliance with all local laws and regulations and whom provides reliable verifiable documentation about the colourants used and their compliance. Until such time as regulators provide specific guidance on which colourants are actually safe for use in tattooing tattooists will still need to use their own experience and judgment about the products they use.


Scientific Report, Tattoo, complication, Risk, Hazard, Carcinogenicity, Mutagenicity, Allergy, Granuloma, Sarcoidosis, Pigment, Pigment blue 15, Pigment, green 7, Tattooist, Manufacturer, Supplier, body art, ink.


The Education Team here at keeps a close eye on the scientific and medical literature for new publications relating to cosmetic and medical tattooing that may be of interest to our customers. The intent is to alert industry members to important publications within the literature to expand the knowledge base particularly in relation to high impact reports.

NB. does not host this publication on our server we merely provide an overview with links to the publisher, the authors and their publisher hold copyright to the actual article.


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