Decorative and cosmetic tattoos have been performed in many cultures and societies for thousands of years. Although tattoos have always been popular in American culture, the popularity of tattoos has continued to grow at a rapid pace. It is estimated that more than 10 million Americans have at least one tattoo. To fill the demand for these procedures, tattoo parlors are springing up in nearly every neighborhood, and some beauty shops now ofter these services. As the demand for tattoos grow, so do the concerns about the potential safety risks, such as infections, often spread through the use of unsterilized needles. Additionally, there are concerns over the safety of tattoo inks which can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
Permanent tattoos are made from injecting colored ink below the skin’s surface through the use of needles. Permanent make-up, considered a permanent tattoo that mimics the results of cosmetic products, can include eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, lip liner and cheek blush. Although state and local law agencies supervise the tattoo business, the inks and pigments used in the tattoo process are largely unregulated by the federal government. In fact, experts in toxicology research at the Food and Drug Administration admit there have been no systematic studies around the safety of tattoo inks. Researchers want to know what happens to the ink after it breaks down and is absorbed into the body. There is some evidence that pigments may migrate to the body’s lymph nodes. What effect this process has on the lymphatic system is unclear.
If you are tempted to get a tattoo or permanent make-up, remember that the FDA has not approved any tattoo pigments for injection into the skin, including the UV (glow-in-the-dark) pigments. In fact, many tattoo inks are the same types used in automobile paints and in printer’s shops. Henna has not been approved by the FDA for use in temporary tattoos.
Removing a tattoo may be painful, is costly and may not always work, as some colors of ink are more difficult to remove. If you wish to remove a tattoo, consult a health professional, not a tattoo parlor, and never buy do-it-yourself removal products, as these are acid-based products that can cause serious skin reactions.