Tattoo Ink Toxic

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Is Tattoo Ink Toxic?

I like tattoos. I’ve been intrigued by them for years, and I toyed around with getting one for a good 15 years or so. My husband and I have talked about them a lot, trying to imagine what we would want as a tattoo should we ever decide to get one. But for some reason neither of us have ever gone through with it. I know it isn’t because we are chicken, I had my navel pierced for a while and that was darn painful, but I did it.  I always feared I would have some sort of allergic reaction to the ink, since I have sensitive skin and many allergies. And an allergic reaction to something injected under your skin which can’t really be removed just sounds terrible. And since Murphy and I are close friends, I’m guessing his Law would surface in this situation! I just never wanted to take the chance.

But of course last week two of my friends started posting pictures and starting discussions on Facebook about tattoos, and my interest was piqued again. This time I decided to do a little research on tattoo ink and what I found out really precludes me from ever getting one. The FDA does not regulate tattoo ink and does not require the ingredients to be disclosed as it is considered proprietary and a trade secret. That is bothersome to me since it means ink manufacturers are not required to tell us what is in their pigments. According to Tattooinfo.net some inks contain antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cobalt, lead, nickel, and selenium, all heavy metals. According to Natural News the carrier solutions may contain denatured alcohol, methanol, rubbing alcohol, antifreeze, and formaldehyde. To me, the most disturbing fact is that red pigment cinnabar is derived from mercury, one of the most toxic substances known to mankind. And here we are electively injecting it into our skin!

Natural News also reported that some pigments are plastic based to create more richly hued inks. These plastic-based inks have lead to polymerization under the skin, where the tattoo pigment particles converged into one solid mass under the skin. That is truly disturbing.

I will not choose to have a tattoo because I do not want to increase my toxic burden by injecting these chemicals and heavy metals under my skin where they will continue to expose me daily. So although I find some of them to be exotic and beautiful, I can not increase my total toxic load by getting one. Stay Well.

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  1. Well darn that stinks. I have one tattoo that I got back when I was 19. I love it and I plan to add to it someday. Something to represent my kids. But I sure as heck don’t want toxic inks or plastic based inks in my body. I wonder if there is such a thing as natural based tattoo inks? I will have to research this. If you come across any other info, I’d love to hear about it!
    Marianna recently posted..How Does My Garden Grow?My Profile

  2. I have ink and so does my husband. I don’t know how I feel about the ink/toxicity thing, I often don’t buy into these things until I research as much as I can, but you have definitely made me want to do some research.
    Nicole recently posted..Nesting?My Profile

  3. Maryann says:

    And Nicole please understand I am not in any way saying you shouldn’t get a tattoo or that I’m against them. But in my family we have serious problems with toxic load such as autism Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, arthritis, etc which I feel is exacerbated by outside toxins. And for that reason I won’t be getting a tattoo.

  4. I’m a tattoo artist, and just wanted to let you know that there are better quality inks on the market. The FDA will not ever approve them, not because of the inks, (which are food grade dyes like you’d find in candy basically) but because they won’t condone the procedure of injecting it under the skin. Any good quality ink manufacturer now lists all of its ingredients and if they don’t, I don’t buy them. It pays to go to a professional shop that doesn’t cut corners. The FDA may not want to get involved, but every town or city has a health board, and you need to be inspected, the health board would not approve of injecting toxins. I have very sensitive skin and I’ve been tattooed with every colour of the rainbow and haven’t ever had a reaction.
    Robyn recently posted..Leach Aluminum from Your Body: Drink Silicon-Rich WaterMy Profile

    • Maryann says:

      Robyn,
      Thank you for the info. So on the inks you use do they list how the colors are derived? Are they derived from heavy metals? That is really where my biggest fear comes from. I would not wish to inject more metals into my body. I already need to get rid of my silver dental fillings!

  5. Interesting post. I never gave a tattoo much consideration when I was young. I guess I always thought they were for the cool kids. I was so not a cool kid.
    Nicole Robinson recently posted..Do you honestly enjoy outdoors with your kids?My Profile

  6. I wish I could give you specifics right now, but I’m not at my shop to check the bottles labels. The website has them listed as non-hazardous pigments mixed with alcohol, rose water, distilled water or witch hazel. They may be thickened with glycerine.

    I do know its quite rare that anyone reacts to a tattoo, though some cheap red can have an allergic reaction in some, I’ve never seen a reaction with any other colours. Because they are food grade dyes, I usually recommend to anyone if they have trouble with any colour of food dye, they should not be tattooed with that colour.

    I know what you’re saying about keeping away from toxins though, its like a never ending battle with our environment these days. I don’t give my kid anything with food dye in it, and yet I’ll dye my hair, wear makeup or get tattooed! Hopefully if your detoxification pathways are up to par then anything like that would pass. I imagine the only real risk even if the inks were the bad ones, would be mostly when the skin is open, when the tattoo is fresh, because after its healed its stable in your skin. The tattoo will stay there stable for years, only to be faded by the sun.
    Robyn recently posted..Leach Aluminum from Your Body: Drink Silicon-Rich WaterMy Profile

  7. Wow, I didn’t know this and I have 2 tattoos. Interesting enough, my hubs has been wanting to get another tattoo for a while and we decided he would not get one when we were ttcing.

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