Tukes investigation reveals toxic tattoo ink

The ink for tattoos and permanent makeup was tested by authorities, and found to contain harmful substances. The sellers have been ordered to remove these items.

File picture of tattoo artist / Credit: iStock

An investigation by Finland’s Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes has uncovered widespread use of dangerous tattoo ink.

It was the first time such an investigation had been carried out in Finland to test the safety of tattoo ink and permanent makeup pigment paints.

Tukes tested twenty colours – six for makeup and 14 for tattoos – and found that eight colours contained substances harmful to health that could cause cancer.

The colours were bought from Finnish domestic companies, one EU-based online shop, and one online shop from outside the EU.

“Substances used in tattoo inks were not originally designed to be injected into the skin, and their safety for this use has hardly been studied” says Tukes Senior Inspector Petteri Talasniemi.

“Among the tests found were […] cadmium, lead and nickel. Dangerous substances in tattoo inks can pose risks to human health” he adds.

Tukes has contacted the companies selling the dyes and informed them that they have to remove them as they are hazardous to health.

New EU legislation on tattoo and permanent pigment colours is currently being drafted as there is currently no EU-wide regulations on these items.