More than 50 different pigments, shades and diluents are currently used in tattooing and while some are approved for use as cosmetics, none are approved for subcutaneous injection. Many tattoo inks are not approved for skin contact at all. Some unconscionable tattooist have been known to used automobile paint or printers’ ink.
Nevertheless, many tattoo wearers choose color as a time saver or due to physical difficulty applying temporary makeup. Others find color tattooing an alternative to reconstructive surgery, to simulate natural pigmentation, and combat alopecia by having “eyebrows” tattooed on. Whatever their reason, color-tattoo wearers should be aware of risks.
The primary complications that can result from color tattooing are infection leading to hepatitis. Some tattooing equipment cannot be sterilized because of design and dimensions. The American Association of Blood Banks requires a one-year wait between a tattoo and donating blood. All color tattoos require some sort of medical post-care. Removing color tattoos is a painstaking and expensive process. Complete removal without scarring may be impossible. Allergic reaction to color tattooing is rare but problematic if it occurs because pigments used are hard to remove. Sometimes allergic reactions are observed to tattoos worn for years with impunity.
Granuolomas or nodules may form around color pigments your immune system detects as foreign. If you are prone to keloids –excessive scarring – color tattoos will traumatize your skin. Office of Cosmetics and Colors dermatologist Ella Toombs, MD defines color tattooing as skin trauma while Charles Zwerling, M.D.,
Annette Walker, R.N., and Norman Goldstein, M.D., warn scarring occurs as a consequence of tattoo removal. Color tattoos have been known to cause complications in patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Mascara produces similar effects but mascara is removable. Why is happens is unclear but some suggest tattoo-color and MRI pigment interaction as likely. Color tattoos wearers should inform the MRI technician to take appropriate precautions and avoid complications.
A common problem with color tattoos is desire and difficulty to remove them. The main complication with eyelid tattooing is pigment-placement. You should consider the consequences of permanently wearing an artist’s mistake.
Remember that all tattoos fade in sun and if tattoo-artists inject pigments too deeply possibility of migration from original sites may occur. Changes in the human body and seasonal styles may cause flattering color tattoos too later clash with changing tones and contours. Any permanent facial makeup may become distorted with time. A once stylish tattoo may become dated and embarrassing. Changing color tattoos is not as easy as changing your mind.
Knowing what pigments are in your tattoo is difficult due to tattoo inks variety. Because inks are sold by brand and not by chemical composition directly to tattoo parlors rather than retail basis to consumers, manufacturers are not legally bound to list their ingredients. If a manufacturer considers identity and grade of their pigments “proprietary,” neither tattooist nor wearer may be able to know exactly “what” is in the tattoo.
Any kind of abrasion to remove a color tattoo invariably leaves a scar in its place. Discomfort is inevitable. Camouflaging your color tattoo with another pigment may not look natural as pigments lack skins translucence.
Temporary tattoos are a viable option for the cautious tattoo-wearer but even these have a caveat. Color tattoos use foreign pigments not allowed into the United States due to FDA reports of allergic reactions. As such, even Henna treatments carry alert. In the US, Henna is approved only for use as hair day – not for direct application to the skin. What specifically causes the typical reddish brown Henna tint is a mystery making what exactly is in “black” and “blue” henna even more curious. “Black henna” may contain the “coal tar” color p-phenylenediamine, which stimulates allergic response in some individuals. The only legal use of PPD in cosmetics is as a hair dye.
Ultimately your choice of a colored tattoo rests on your shoulders. Product availability render legality of ingredients a moot point – If you want a colored tattoo you can easily find a tattooist who will sell you one. The questions to ask yourself are: Do you trust the ingredients in them sufficiently to risk later allergic response, or other medical complications or social second thoughts? The permanence of color tattoos has far-reaching life-long implications.