In the 1980s there were, at most, twelve basic colours for tattoo artists to combine and dilute. Black was the dominant pigment with colours added sparingly

So...are we reliving the 80's? Are colour tattoos a thing of the past?

You may have seen online that coloured inks are being banned in the EU.

This is not new news REACH (EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) began their findings in 2016 and have carefully evaluated their analysis.

Get ready to dive into the behind the scenes of your colour tattoos.

Coloured inks banned EU is the UK nextWhy are coloured tattoo inks being banned?

The reason for the ban comes down to the chemicals found in the coloured ink used for tattoos.

REACH had 4,000 chemicals typically used in colourful tattoo ink prohibited in January 2020 in the EU. Some of which are already banned in products applied on top of the skin – can cause ‘cancer or genetic mutations’. However there is no concrete evidence between tattoos and cancer or genetic mutations.

REACH have made an effort to clarify that ‘the aim is not to ban tattooing but to make the colours used in tattoos and permanent make-up safer’.

Which we can all agree it is always better to be safer.

Ink suppliers have been given until 4th January 2023 to find different, REACH-approved chemicals to create the same colours.

What is in tattoo inks?

  • alcohols
  • barium
  • cadmium
  • copper
  • lead
  • mercury
  • minerals
  • nickel
  • plastics
  • vegetable dyes

Overall, tattoo ink is safer than in previous decades. Yet it’s still important to ask your tattoo artist what types of inks they use, what the ingredients are, and where they come from. All reputable studios will have this information.


Will coloured inks be banned in the UK?

The UK is not immediately following the EU’s lead on the ban.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is encouraging tattoo manufacturers and artists to submit information about tattooing safety, and the ingredients found in tattoo ink.

UK lawmakers want to know more about the subject before deciding on whether they, too, will outlaw certain chemicals found in inks.

Signs of ink poisoning?

With tattoo ink, the symptoms are sometimes harder to identify. Poisoning from tattoo ink is often mistaken for an infection, with symptoms like pain, swelling or a rash.

What to do if your tattoo is making you ill

If you suspect that tattoo ink has poisoned your body, you should immediately call your doctor. Also inform your tattoo artist and studio, who can identify the ink they used and avoid using it again. Taking note of the brand name, colour, and any lot number can help determine the source of the problem.

In most cases, poisoning will present itself as a minor inflammation and can be treated with rest, ice and elevation. Over the counter anti-inflammatories will help in the first 24 hours after getting a new tattoo. If you have suffered an allergic reaction, antihistamines will help reduce those small red bumps or rash around the tattoo.

What are we at Cold Iron Tattoo Company currently doing?

In the studio we use Eternal inks brand for our coloured ink

  • Eternal Ink is organic
  • Eternal Ink is free of animal by-products and is vegan.
  • Eternal Ink is not tested on animals.
  • Eternal Ink is supplied in a medical grade sealed bottle, ensuring its longevity before and after opening.
  • Eternal Ink pigments are certified sterile.
  • Eternal Ink cooperates with all regulations.
  • Eternal Ink is made in the U.S.A.

We are keeping up to date with what HSE are finding and making sure we take all steps necessary to keep our customers and artists safe.

Got a question? 

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1 comment

  • Ross Owen

    Thanks for sharing this helpful post.
    Laser Tattoo Removal Prices UK

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