At the start of 2022, the European Union announced a new law that would ban the use of certain ingredients commonly found in tattoo inks. The REACH Regulation was shared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and according to their website, "The restriction covers, for example: chemicals that cause cancer or genetic mutations and chemicals that are toxic to reproduction as well as skin sensitisers and irritants. The aim is not to ban tattooing but to make the colours used in tattoos and permanent make-up safer."
News of this ban has rocked the tattoo industry worldwide, as it will make many of the tried and true tattoo inks preferred by artists illegal in the EU. In order to better understand how this ban will impact the tattoo world, we spoke with Lou Rubino, owner of World Famous Tattoo Inks, to learn how this ban came about, how artists in the EU will be impacted and if he sees a similar restriction coming to the U.S. any time soon.
What does the ink ban pertain to? Is it all color inks or specific shades?
The new regulations in the EU pertain to the banning of a number of substances that are included in tattoo inks, plus many of the pigments that have been used forever, without any real reason or scientific backing. There are very few documented adverse reactions to tattoo inks. This ban made every single ink on the market non-compliant in its original formula. Even Isopropyl Alcohol was banned in tattoo ink. It’s a very common ingredient not only in tattoo pigments, but in many of the everyday products we use in and on our bodies. We at World Famous Tattoo Ink have worked tirelessly all this past year on a brand new formula, our Limitless line, that meets all standards of the new Eu REACH regulations.
How and why did this ban come about?
It comes down to over-regulating tattooing as the officials would prefer tattooing to go away all together. There’s no evidence or scientific backing or real reasoning behind this ban. It's all speculation with little to no proof.
How will this ban impact tattooers in the EU?
It's a major impact as they must stop using all the inks they have been using for years and only use inks that meet the standards of the new REACH regulations. It's going to be very difficult to meet these standards. Luckily, we now have the World Famous Limitless line available to keep the artists going.
Is there any scientific proof that tattoo inks cause skin reactions?
No matter what there will always be someone with an allergy to any number of substances. It has been shown to be very, very, very rare but some people can have allergic reactions to tattoo ink. It’s just like having allergies to many of the foods we eat, but they don't get removed from the market for a small amount of reactions.
What about more serious claims such as genetic mutations or cancer?
There’s no such proof.
How will this ban affect the tattoo industry as a whole?
We have been able to pull off a new line of pigments to meet this regulation, which I am sure regulators didn't expect us to be able to do. Who knows, maybe next they will try banning the needles or something else to totally disrupt the tattoo industry as a whole.
How will artists in the EU work around this ban?
Again, luckily we have created a new line of pigments called World Famous Limitless in order to keep our industry alive.
How will this ban impact World Famous?
We spent the entire year of 2021 doing tons of research and testing. It has been a huge obstacle in our operations and R&D departments. But we have accomplished the impossible!
Do you see a ban like this occurring in the U.S. or other parts of the world?
I’m sure other countries will look and follow to some extent. We have been in conversations with Australia who are creating new regulations yet they agree, the EU went way overboard and it’s unnecessary. The FDA has been looking at new regulations but adverse reactions are so low, they haven’t pushed on it.