Tattoo artists in crisis after EU bans popular inks

Tattoo parlours in the EU have been thrown into disarray after a new rule came into force which effectively bans many of their most popular inks.

Alternatives to the inks do not yet exist or are in short supply, tattoo artists say.

The law limits the use of certain chemicals the EU said were hazardous and are used in mixtures for tattoo inks and permanent make-up. Some have been linked to cancer, reproductive difficulties and skin irritation.

The industry was given a year to adjust and find alternatives after the law was agreed in December 2020.

According to the European Chemicals Agency, which conducted the research on the inks, at least 12% of the EU’s 450 million citizens – more than 54 million people – have tattoos.

Tattoo artist Tin-Tin, head of the French tattoo industry union SNAT, said the new rules will drive people to parlours which do not follow the legislation.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said.

“It’s like taking the flour from a bakery, it’s a stupid as that. If we don’t have any colours or ink to work with, what are we going to work with?”

Gwenaelle Reaume, secretary of the Tattoo Belgium association, said the COVID-19 pandemic had held up research and production for alternatives.

She called on the government to give tattoo artists more time, saying many of her colleagues had run out of ink.

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