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Heavy Metals & Preservatives in Tattoo Colours

Problems with tattoo colours and tattooing itself have been known for decades. Tattoos can lead to infections, allergies, scars, and are especially dangerous during pregnancy. 


Tattoo colors can consist of many individual substances, for which so far often an evaluation is missing, whether they can be introduced without doubts into the body. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) explains that too little is known about how colour pigments work in the body. The ingredients of some special tattoo products, which glow under neon light for example, are even largely unknown.

According to the BfR, the colour pigments can migrate into the lymphatic system and to other organs, where – due to their chemical structure or contamination – they can become a health risk. According to the BfR, a positive list of harmless colours does not yet exist: It is therefore not possible to indicate whether there are any harmless tattoo colours at all, and if so, which ones.


Tests have shown high amounts of heavy metals and also undeclared preservatives in the tattoo color samples. 


Tattoo inks do not require approval in Germany. Instead, the manufacturer is responsible for the safety of the inks. There is also a lack of binding European legislation, which could come into force in 2021 at the earliest.

Although known health-hazardous substances have been banned by the German Tattoo Agents Ordinance since 2009, the German Tattoo Products Ordinance is still in force. However, since many paints are obtained from unsafe sources, the risk is comparatively high.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) last declared in August 2019 that not only colours but also tattoo needles can become problematic: Metal micro- and nanoparticles, which are deposited in the skin and lymph nodes, can detach from the needles.


How to provide safe tattoo ink?


Chemical residues in cosmetic products and tattoo inks repeatedly lead to non-marketable products and recalls from the market. Before placing them on the market, ensure the quality of your products and the raw materials you use and have them checked regularly for possible contaminants.

Our Tentamus laboratories will carry out the relevant tests for you. The test parameters are determined product-specifically.

In addition to chemical residue analysis and the determination of the content of active substances, we carry out microbiological tests for you, as well as labelling reviews.

Contact our experts from BAV Institut here – they will be happy to support you in order to provide safe products for your clients!



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