Great Article, The Truth About Tattoos

    (NaturalNews) A frighteningly growing number of teens and young adults around the world are injecting dangerous chemicals under their skin in the name of art and self-expression. A trend that started growing in America and Europe in the early ’90s, tattooing soon became so popular that 36% of Americans aged 25-29 had at least one body tattoo by 2003.1 The numbers have undoubtedly risen in the four years since; tattoos are now well-entrenched in the mainstream. Even the media regularly glorifies tattoo culture, as evidenced by reality TV shows like The Learning Channel’s Miami Ink and LA Ink, and Inked on A&E, as well as frequent magazine sightings of tattoo-sporting celebrities like Paris Hilton, David Beckham, and Angelina Jolie, and print ads featuring tattooed models and athletes, like Calvin Klein Underwear’s Fredrik Ljungberg (who, by the way, had a severe allergic reaction to his tattoos and had to have a lymph gland removed).2

    What’s formaldehyde and antifreeze doing in your skin?
    Tattooing is an art form that has been used for centuries by tribal societies in religious rites and as a natural part of life. At first banned and then appropriated by Western culture, tattoos have recently developed as a decorative art of self-expression; used by some to celebrate events, memorialize a departed loved one, or as a show of commitment to a life partner. There is one thing for sure: all tattoos have a story. What’s not so clear is exactly what we’re injecting into our skin for art’s sake.

    A far cry from their tribal predecessors made with dyes from the natural environment, many of today’s tattoos contain an unknown conglomeration of metallic salts (oxides, sulphides, selenides), organic dyes or plastics suspended in a carrier solution for consistency of application.3 In the European Commission’s report on the health risks of tattooing, they note that close to 40% of organic colorants used in permanent tattoos in Europe are not even approved for use on the skin as a cosmetic ingredient and just under 20% of the colorants studied contained a carcinogenic aromatic amine. Many of the chemicals found were originally intended for use in writing and printer inks, as well as automobile paints.4 These inks are injected deep enough into the skin that often tattoos will not even be destroyed by severe burns.5

    In America, the FDA regulates some of the ingredients in cosmetics worn on the skin, and vitamins, drugs and food additives ingested into the body, but it does not regulate these toxic inks we put under our skin. Their official stance:

    Because of other public health priorities and a previous lack of evidence of safety concerns, FDA has not traditionally regulated tattoo inks or the pigments used in them.6

    The FDA also does not require ingredient disclosure on the inks—they are considered proprietary (trade secrets)—and so tattoo inks may contain any chemical, including those known to be mutagenic (capable of causing mutations), teratogenic (capable of causing birth defects), and carcinogenic (capable of causing cancer), or involved in other biochemical reactions in the body that might take decades to appear.3 Surprisingly, the FDA does not list cancer in their list of potential tattoo risks, citing only infection, removal problems, allergic reactions, granulomas, keloid formation, and MRI complications.6 The job of testing and legislating the use of tattoo pigments in permanent cosmetics is left to the state. In California, specific ingredients are prohibited and the state will even legally pursue companies who fail to disclose tattoo pigment ingredients to the consumer. They recently brought suit against nine pigment and ink manufacturers for inadequate labeling.5

    What’s in a tattoo?
    Without full disclosure of ingredients, it is impossible to know for sure what is in tattoo ink. Added to this, each color and each brand of ink has completely different ingredients, according to a 2005 study out of Northern Arizona University.7

    The carrier solution itself might contain harmful substances such as denatured alcohols, methanol, rubbing alcohol, antifreeze, detergents, or formaldehyde and other highly toxic aldehydes.3

    The oldest pigments came from using ground up minerals and carbon black. According to, a wide range of dyes and pigments are now used in tattoos “from inorganic materials like titanium dioxide and iron oxides to carbon black, azo dyes, and acridine, quinoline, phthalocyanine and naphthol derivates, dyes made from ash, and other mixtures.”  Currently popular is Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS plastic), used in Intenze, Millenium and other ABS pigmented brands.5

    The price of ignorance.

    Although allergic reactions to permanent tattoos are considered rare given the number of tattoos applied yearly—in the neighborhood of 5 million9—they can occur, along with scarring, phototoxic reactions (i.e., reactions from exposure to light, especially sunlight), and other adverse effects. Many people have reported reactions to the intensely colored plastic-based pigments. There are also pigments that glow in the dark or in response to black (ultraviolet) light. Some of these pigments may be safe, but others are toxic and even possibly radioactive.9 Plastic-based inks (e.g., glow-in-the-dark ink) have led to polymerization under the skin, where the tattoo pigment particles converged into one solid piece under the skin.9

    Allergic reactions have occurred with some of the many metals put into tattoo inks, nickel being one of the most common metal allergies.8 Others have reacted to the mercury in red cinnabar, to cobalt blue, and to cadmium sulfite when used as a yellow pigment. Some inks were found to have high levels of lead, some contained lithium, and the blue inks were full of copper.7 Allergic reactions may occur infrequently with permanent tattoos, but the long-term health effects are still unknown due to the lack of regulation, testing, and long-term studies.

    In contrast to the low incidence of reported allergic reactions to permanent tattoos, however, certain temporary Henna tattoos have been very problematic. Henna tattoos that contain the dark brown dye para-phenylenediamine (PPD) can cause a delayed allergic reaction and subsequent PPD hyper-sensitization that may permanently prohibit one from using sulfa drugs, PABA sunscreens, benzocaine and other anesthetics, and hair dyes. Fragrance sensitization may occur, and in some cases, the reaction will include skin necrosis, scarring, and hypo-pigmentation. Analysis of henna dye used on persons who reported allergic reactions has shown the presence of toxic chemicals from hair and textile dyes, in addition to PPD.

    The question of toxicity is multifaceted; there are others factors that may exponentially increase the serious health risks associated with tattooing. When alcohol is used as part of the carrier base in tattoo ink or to disinfect the skin before application of the tattoo, it increases the skin’s permeability, helping to transport more chemicals into the bloodstream. Alcohol also works synergistically with mutagens, teratogens, and carcinogens to make them even more harmful, increasing the chance that they may cause mutation or disease, both at the site of the tattoo and systemically.3

    Other health risks.

    In addition to allergic reactions and the unknown long-term health effects from the metal salts and carrier solutions that make up tattoo inks, there are other health risks involved. Skin infections, psoriasis, dermatitis and other chronic skin conditions, and tumors (both benign, and malignant) have all been associated with tattoos. Due to the use of needles in tattoo application, there is also the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as tetanus, herpes simplex virus, staph, HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, and even Syphilis. And those with tattoos might not be able to get a life-saving MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) test if they need one—some hospitals and testing locations will refuse to do an MRI on people with body tattoos due to the metal particles in the tattoo, which may cause a burning pain during the test.10

    If you plan on having your tattoo removed, you should be aware that some of the pigments used (especially Yellow #7) are phototoxic and may break down into toxic chemicals in the body when removed with UV light or laser, common techniques used in tattoo removal. The toxic end-products eventually wind up in the kidneys and liver, adding to your total body burden.5

    Think for yourself.

    In an ideal world, the ‘trade secrets’ clause that allows companies to put profit over public health would be disallowed for all products used topically, transdermally, or ingested into our bodies. However, in the absence of federal regulation to protect the consumer from unqualified tattoo artists, unhygienic tools and application methods, and highly toxic inks, the best advice for the youth of today is abstinence from tattoos. At the very least, one should find out if their state has any regulations on tattoo inks, and always ask to see the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for any pigment or carrier used to see basic health and safety information for the ingredients involved. Skin tests should be performed prior to tattoo application to see if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. Although certain tattoo ink ingredients may be plant-based or otherwise considered safe and non-toxic, the truth is that no long-term studies have been performed confirming that they are safe to inject as a permanent cosmetic. Bottom line: don’t trust the government, tattoo ink manufacturers, or tattoo artists to give you accurate and complete information on the toxicity of the pigments and dyes being used—at least not just yet.

    1. The Harris Poll® #58, Harris Interactive, 2003…

    2. Sam Coates, How Arsenal footballer was brought down by tattoo, Times Online, 2005…

    3. Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., Tattoo Ink Carrier Chemistry,…

    4. Workshop on “Technical/scientific and regulatory issues on the safety of tattoos, body piercing and of regulated practices”, European Commission, 2003…

    5. Tattoo, Wikipedia

    6. Tattoos and Permanent Makeup, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2006

    7. Emma Marris, Is tattoo ink safe?, BioEd Online…

    8. Tattoo Allergies,…

    9. Tattoo Ink, Encyclopedia

    10. Kassidy Emmerson, The Deadly Dangers of Body Tattoos, Associated Content…

    About the author

    Julie Genser is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in NYC and is certified in permaculture and ecovillage design. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Design and Environmental Analysis from Cornell University. Julie is also the founder and director of , a grassroots community for personal wellness that aims to empower those healing from environmental illnesses with the information, resources, and support necessary to create change in their world.

    Learn more:

    Is there Discrimination against tattoos in the hiring process?


      According to a study done by Pew Research Center about 23% of Americans today have tattoos, and 32% of people ages 30-45 have at least one. So with these numbers you would think that employers would lighten up a little for the hiring process.

      In a study done by Dr. Andrew Timming of St. Andrews University School of Management, he interviewed 14 different organizations who worked in places such as banks, schools, and prisons. He found that a majority of those surveyed said visible tattoos remain a stigma.

      Surveyed employers said that tattoos can “make a person look dirty” and would stop them from hiring them. Even if employers are okay with tattoos, they fear how their customers might react. Dr. Timmings said “It was surmised that customers might project a negative service experience based on stereotypes that tattooed people are thugs and druggies.”

      It is very common for employers to have a dress code policy that may ban visible tattoos. Many employers also require employees to totally cover tattoos either with clothing and/or make-up.

      While it may not be fair to discriminate against a tattooed person, it does happen. There is no law that prohibits discrimination against people with visible tattoos, body piercings, unnatural hair colors, unique hairstyles and so on. There have been some effort to make body art and body modifications protected, but so far they have not been successful.

      In recent years, the number of people with tattoos has increased significantly and we may see employers relax their standards in the future, but we are not there yet.

      Hapatitis C and Tattoos

        Hepatitis C and Tattoos

        Those considering getting a tattoo should consider the health risks. If the artist does not properly clean and sterilize his or her equipment, you not only run the risk of getting a bacterial infection, you might also contract a virus. You can get infected if the tools that are used have someone else’s infected blood on them or the artist does not follow good health practices, such as washing hands and using disposable gloves.

        Let’s face it, tattooing is not always carried out under the best sterile conditions. Many teenagers and young adults will even get a friend to give them a tattoo in their home. While in most cases, reputable tattoo artists will use “single-use” needles (as it is required to do so in most states), other equipment such as dye and dye tubs may be used on many different customers. Protect yourself by making sure that your tattooist uses safe infection control practices – new, single-use sterile needles sealed in an autoclave bag, disposable surgical gloves, dye tubs, etc.

        According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports “transmission of hepatitis C (and other infectious diseases) is possible when poor infection-control practices are used during tattooing or piercing. Body art is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and unregulated tattooing and piercing are known to occur in prisons and other informal or unregulated settings. Further research is needed to determine if these types of settings and exposures are responsible for hepatitis C virus transmission.”

        Consider this. There are the same risks of getting an infectious disease from getting a tattoo as there are when you go to a health care provider such as when you go to the doctor to get a vaccination or go to the dentist for a teeth cleaning. The common factor is the potential for contaminating your blood with the blood of an infected individual. However, the risk is higher when getting a tattoo as it is more likely that infection control procedures are not in practice, especially when the artists are novices/hobbyists.

        Take your well-being seriously and be responsible by researching which tattoo artist or parlor you want to trust with your health. Here are some things to look for when deciding on which tattoo parlor to choose based on their infection control practices:

        1. Ask the artist what procedures they follow for properly sterilizing equipment and for infection control. Also the sterilization equipment should be tested and serviced regularly.
        2. All needles and razors are disposed of in an easy to reach sharps container clearly marked as a biohazard.
        3. An autoclave should be used and new sterile needles must always be removed from an autoclave bag in your presence.
        4. Artists always wear new sterile gloves and will wash their hands before putting on a pair, as well as put a pair of gloves on prior to touching clients or equipment. In addition, they should wash their hands after removing their gloves.
        5. Gloves should be removed and thrown away whenever the artist leaves his or her work area.
        6. All items that can come in contact with blood and cannot be sterilized should be disposed of as a biohazard. This includes gloves, paper towels, leftover ink caps, cotton swabs, leftover ointment and the plastic covers used to protect the tattoo machine, cord, soap bottles, etc.
        7. Ink, water or other products that are not used should be thrown out after use and not returned to the container they came out of.
        8. If an artist needs to apply something to the skin, it should be done with a tissue or so that there is no contamination of the product between clients.
        9. The work areas and surfaces should be cleaned frequently and between every client, following the instructions on a disinfecting cleaner.

        Article By: Hepatitis Central

        Price for Tattoo Removal

          Average Tattoo Removal Cost Not Through X-Tattoo

          The average laser tattoo removal cost ranges from $200 to $500 per treatment session. The price is dependent on several factors, including the type and extent of the tattoo, and the expertise and training of the Laser Technician.

          Since laser tattoo removal can take several treatments to complete, the total cost could be as little as $1,000 or as high as $10,000.

          X-Tattoo Cost

          Thanks to the Doctors that volunteer their time to the X-Tattoo program we are able to keep our treatments at a very affordable price. Our treatments range from $50-$150 per treatment session. So compared to our competitors with several treatments the cost can be as low as $500 or as high as 1,800. We encourage people to compare prices because we know, there is no other competition.

          If you are ready to make a change in your life and remove the tattoos that may be holding you back or the tattoos that you have just out grown, give us a call 480-306-4198 for your free consultation.

          Benifits of Tattoo Removal, X-Tattoo

            There are a number of benefits of laser tattoo removal. In the past, if you received a tattoo, then you were pretty much stuck with it for the rest of your life. Today, with the help of lasers tattoo removal is possible.

            Tattoo Laser Removal is very effective. There are lotions and creams that are available to remove tattoos, but they are less effective than using a laser. Studies have shown that nearly 75 percent of patients were able to have their tattoos successfully removed after 5-10 treatments. The number of treatments depend on certain factors such as, newer tattoos and ones that are created with blue or black ink are typically much easier to remove. Smaller tattoos are also a lot easier to remove. Furthermore, non-smokers typically have greater success with this procedure. Researchers believe that smoking decreases the effectiveness of laser tattoo removal because it interferes with the natural healing process.

            Main Benefit:

            Better Employment

            Some employers may discriminate against people who have tattoos.   Your tattoo may be that one thing that is holding you back from getting the job of your dreams. By removing at least your visible tattoos can greatly affect your chances for getting a job. Although tattoos are more acceptable in our society today, unfortunately there are employers that are still very against them. If by removing your tattoos, you could get a better job, would you do it?