UK to investigate tattoo ink health risks after EU ban

In the media

Ban has caused tattoo industry crisis across bloc with trade associations warning it will ‘criminalise’ artists

The UK government is to investigate the health risks posed by tattoo inks after the EU introduced a ban on a range of substances used in pigments on the grounds they are hazardous.

The ban, which came into force on Monday, has caused a crisis in the tattoo industry across the bloc, with trade associations warning it will “criminalise” artists and threaten the entire sector, which is already reeling from closures through the pandemic lockdowns.

The law does not apply to the UK as it came into effect after Brexit was sealed in January 2020 but it poses one of the first tests for the UK’s approach to regulation of laws affecting consumers since it achieved independence from the bloc. The law limits the use of certain chemicals the EU says are hazardous, with some linked to cancer, reproductive difficulties and skin irritation, and which are contained in mixtures for tattoo inks and permanent makeup.

It is estimated that 54 million people across the EU have tattoos and the industry had a year to prepare for the ban.

The tattoo artist Tin-Tin, who heads the French tattoo industry union SNAT, told Reuters the new rules would drive people to parlours that do not respect the legislation. “It’s ridiculous. It’s like taking the flour from a bakery, it’s as stupid as that. If we don’t have any colours or ink to work with, what are we going to work with?” he said.