When deciding to get a tattoo, most people take their time to scout out an artist they like and find a place that is clean and reputable. But how often do people question the ink used in their tattoos?
Did you know that tattoo ink is mostly unregulated? This doesn’t mean that all tattoos are unsafe or dangerous, but it’s worth exploring the topic.
Our goal with this post is to give our readers more insight into tattoo ink. This understanding will be important for those looking to get tatted as well as anyone interested in removing tattoos.
What is ink
We can’t really answer this. Why? Well……most manufacturers of inks keep their recipes secret. Tattoo ink is not regulated by the FDA, because of this, they are legally allowed to keep the ingredients hidden from public knowledge. While the lack of regulation may seem worrisome, it doesn’t mean the FDA isn’t keeping an eye on things (more on this in a second).
Understanding Tattoo Ink
What we do know is that tattoo ink is made up of pigments and a carrier. The pigments are color additives, which are subject to premarket approval by the FDA. The FDA has recalled contaminated inks in the past, and many won’t hit the market if they’re deemed to contain unsafe ingredients. Pigment + carrier = tattoo ink. So what’s a carrier? This is the secret ingredient – the substance or mixture used to do the following:
- Ensure the pigment is evenly distributed
- Prevent clumping of the pigment
- Aid in application to the skin
- Inhibit the growth of pathogens
These substances can be made from various ingredients, but some of the most common and safest are witch hazel, purified water, glycerine, and ethanol. Ingredients vary with every tattoo, and this uncertainty is one factor that the Flawless aesthetic nursesmust consider when removing tattoos. Every tattoo is different and requires a unique approach. Fortunately, our team of experts has almost a decade of experience!
Complications to Consider
While not entirely typical, there is cause for concern that unsafe tattoo ink may cause infection or even allergic reaction. Tattoo ink can be contaminated by bacteria or mold, which is why you must consult with a tattoo artist that you trust and believe practices safe tattoo procedure. You should also be aware that allergic reactions are possible.
The easiest way to tell the difference between an allergic reaction and infection is to determine where the symptoms occur. Allergic reactions will show signs of irritation on the skin around the offending pigment for a few days or even weeks. On the other hand, an infection will show signs of irritation across the tattoo and beyond, usually coupled with other symptoms like a fever or chills.
How You Can Protect Yourself
In the past, tattoo inks were made of charcoal, ash, and other materials found in nature. In the last few decades, more complex recipes have become popular, but not necessarily safer. Some tattoo inks contain heavy metals like copper, zinc, aluminum, cobalt, mercury, and more.
Your best bet for getting a safe tattoo is to find a professional tattoo artist that mixes their own ink from dry pigments. In this case, you’re more likely to know the composition of the inks that will be used for your tattoos, which will be instrumental in avoiding infection or allergic reaction.
How Tattoo Ink Affects Laser Tattoo Removal
Like we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the chemical makeup of your ink can alter how the laser reacts. For example, some artists combine many different colors to get black, and once we begin the removal process, the other colors will start to show. This will require a new approach entirely.
Another example of complications comes from clients with red ink tattoos because many times, red ink contains mercury which may not react well to laser exposure.At Flawless Med Spa, Albuquerque, NM, tattoo removal is achieved by pulsing a laser over your tattoo, which allows us to direct light energy toward the ink. The tattoo’s ink particles absorb the energy and then break down, if the ink doesn’t absorb the laser’s light, then an incorrect wavelength is being used. Wondering why wavelength matters? It can affect the likelihood of your tattoo removal being successful.
We’re Here to Help
Since being founded in 2011, Flawless Med Spa, Albuquerque NM, has been committed to using the absolute best technology when it comes to Tattoo Removal Technology. Flawless offers 6 wavelengths including the Revlite Q-Switch& PicoSure Lasers. This versatility minimizes the risk of thermal damage to the skin while effectively removing even the most stubborn tattoo inks.