Is Your Local Tattoo Parlor a Safe Place?

The number of drawn tattoos is growing now more than ever before. This is due to the entrance of different categories of people that want to have their bodies tattooed. In the past, inmates, bikers and low standard people were the main customers of any tattoo shop but now the situation is totally different. Tattoo shops are receiving a wider base of clientele from wide backgrounds and different age groups.

The immense growth of this art makes it a critical need for rules to regulate it. Surprisingly, there are no strong or solid rules to regulate tattoo work. Recently there were some actions taken to regulate tattoo work.

One of the first regulations that took place was the regulation of licensing tattoo artists. Until 2008, anyone could open a tattoo parlor and start drawing tattoos on people. After that date, different States started applying regulations on tattoo artists as they now must complete a certain level of education in order to be certified to draw tattoos.

Other regulations apply to the tattoo parlor itself. Before 2008, it was acceptable to offer tattoo services from home or any residence but now the situation is different. Starting 2010, it is empirical to establish any new tattoo parlor in a commercial building but the tattoo studios established before that date can keep their businesses.

When we take a look at the health regulation we will find that it covered everything except the tattoo ink itself. The health regulations cover the machinery and equipments used in tattooing. Health inspectors will check every facility and make sure that every needle used is sterilized and disposed after the usage. They will also require a blood test for every tattoo artist to ensure that he or she is safe to deal with body piercing equipments.

Different from all of these equipments and regulations, the tattoo ink stands alone away from any regulations. First of all, tattoo ink is included under the category of cosmetics; so when it is tested, it appears to be safe to use it topically but the results of using it under the skin may vary.

One important thing people should know is that tattoo ink manufacturing companies are not required to reveal the components of their inks. This is done legally because they consider the recipes as secrets of the manufacturer. Some companies may reveal the ingredients of their manufactured inks but they are not required to do so.

The main ingredients of the tattoo inks are the metal salts; some of these salts are safe to be used and others are not safe and may be toxic. For example, copper salts are safe and used in child paints but others like cobaltmay be highly toxic.

Some scientists are now conducting trials on the different tattoo inks to find out which of them are safe and which are not safe. Some paints are using lead and manganese so they may cause heavy metal toxicity and that is why it needs more regulations to help finding out the safe inks to be used in tattooing.

On the other hands, tattoo artists started to use organic painting instead of metal based inks but they faced the problems of instability and color variation. These problems limit the usage of organic colors instead of other commercially mixed inks.

The need for more regulations now is more than before because of the growing number of people having tattoos these days. The FDA should test all the tattoo inks found in the market in order to find which of them is safe to be used. Also there should be different tests carried out on the metal salts to know which of them should be used as ingredients in different colors of tattooing inks.

Although there are rare reports about adverse reactions from the commercially mixed tattoo inks, we still need some firmer regulations to arrange their usage. On the other hand some tattoo artists prefer to mix their own tattoo inks in-house in order to know exactly what they are putting in it. There could be serious dangers of tattooing yourself. Some people may think that this is a safer method but it is not like this all the time. When a tattoo artist tries to reach a certain color he or she may use some industrial paints that also contain toxic materials. All this means there could also be dangers of tattoo removal.

There were trials to use paints of plant origin but they were unstable and faded away quickly. This resulted in more usage of commercial paints and in-house paints made from industrial paints. So in order to keep the tattoo business under full control the authorities need to apply the following regulations.

  • Tattoo artist should be licensed and well educated.
  • Tattoo parlors should be in a commercial place so it remains under complete monitoring of the authorities.
  • Tattoo artists dealing with minors who are under 18 years should be sued and the tattoo parlor should be closed for good.
  • Commercial tattoo paints should be tested for a long time before being released in the market. The authorities should make sure that these inks are safe to be used under skin.
  • Authorities should make sure of the sterilization of all the equipment used in the process.
  • Authorities should take samples from the in-house mixed inks to make sure that they are safe.

At the end, the lack of enforcement in tattoo business may lead to serious hazards so it need to be regulated and controlled with firm rules to keep it safe for people who wish to have new tattoos on their bodies.