Tattoos are very popular these days. My father, 1920-1993, had two that I can remember on one of his forearms that he got when he was drunk while serving in the army in WWII. He wished he never got them. They were greenish-blue in color, one was a hollow heart and the other I can’t remember. Not much artistry back then compared to today’s tattoos.
What exactly is in tattoo ink? I was amazed to learn that the tattoo ink industry is not regulated at all. The ink itself is not even sterile. Some of the basic or common ingredients are:
ethyl alcohol (ethanol), purified water, witch hazel, Listerine (yep that’s right!), propylene glycol, and glycerine
Some of the other ingredients are formaldehyde (highly toxic), ethylene glycol (antifreeze, toxic), denatured alcohols (toxic and can burn the skin), ground metals such as copper, nickel and lead (which break down in the skin and cause health issues), arsenic (HELLO!?), carcinogens (substances known to cause cancer), tarotogens (causes birth defects) and various detergents.
The skin is the largest organ of the body. Anything that comes in contact with the skin is broken down, metabolized and absorbed in the body that includes all make-up, lotions, and tattoo inks. Sunlight and UV light can also cause the breakdown of tattoo ink which is then dispersed in the body. Some of these inks are “industrial” grade, meaning like printer ink used for copiers and for automobile paint. Yikes!
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, there are known tattoo ink risks:
infection, allergic reaction, scarring, granulomas and swelling from having an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) on a tattooed area
There is much to learn and know about tattoo ink. Ask your tattoo artist what brand of ink he/she uses and what are the reported side effects. Usually, the tattoo artist knows which brands to avoid. Even then there are still so many unknown variables.
Be informed before you get inked. Do your research, ask questions, ask lots of questions, report any and all reactions. Don’t be like my father and get a tattoo while under the influence of alcohol. It’s a permanent decision that you have to live with the rest of your life.