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Home > Cosmetics Knowledge > Are cosmetics safe? > Are Tatoos & Permanent Makeup Safe
Are Tattoos & Permanent Makeup Safe

TattoosTattoos and permanent makeup are very much popular among the teens especially among boys. Tattoos are creative phenomena. They can spoil the skin if they are used in an improper way. So its better to use those kinds of products which have some quality. Tatoos contains those chemicals as ingredients, which may not suit certain skin types. So its better to be aware of what you are using and indirectly should take suggestions from people if some problems crop up. While temporary and permanent tattoos are subject to regulation as cosmetics and are under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration; state and local agencies have direct jurisdiction over the practice of tattooing by salon technicians. FDA is currently evaluating the safety of tattoos and permanent makeup as a result of their growing popularity. Among the issues being considered are tattoo removals, adverse reactions to tattoo colors and infections and infectious disease that result from the use of these products. The inks, or dyes, used for tattoos are color additives. Currently no color additives have been approved for tattoos, including those used in permanent makeup.

Consumers should be aware of some of the risks presented by tattoos and permanent makeup:
1. Unsterile tattooing equipment and needles can transmit infectious disease, such as hepatitis; it is extremely important to confirm that all equipment is clean and sanitary before use;
2. Tattoos and permanent makeup are not easily removed and in some cases may cause permanent discoloration; think carefully before getting a tattoo and consider the possibility of an allergic reaction; and
3. Blood donations cannot be made for a year after getting a tattoo or permanent makeup.

Types of Tatoos:
Today, there are many different types of tattoos. For example:
Permanent tattoo-a needle is used to insert colored ink underneath the skin.

Permanent make-up -- These permanent tattoos look like make-up, such as eyebrow pencil, lip liner, or eyeliner.

Henna tattoos -- A natural plant dye called henna is used to stain the skin. This method does not use needles. The color lasts 2 to 3 weeks. Henna is only approved for use as a hair dye. It should not be put on the skin.

Temporary tattoos -- The "tattoo" design is on a piece of coated paper. It is put on the skin with water. Temporary tattoos last only a few days.

Why would someone want a tattoo?
To be in style
To save time from putting on makeup
Because they have trouble putting on makeup
To restore a natural look after surgery on the face or breast
Because they have lost their eyebrows or eyelashes

What are the risks?
You may not like your tattoo even if it was done well. Not liking the tattoo is the most common reason people give for having one removed.

Infection. Unsterile tattooing equipment and needles can transmit infectious diseases, such as hepatitis. The risk of infection is the reason the American Association of Blood Banks requires a one-year wait between getting a tattoo and donating blood. It is extremely important to make sure that all tattooing equipment is clean and sterilized before use. Even if the needles are sterilized or never have been used, it is important to understand that in some cases the equipment that holds the needles cannot be sterilized reliably due to its design. In addition, the person who receives a tattoo must be sure to care for the tattooed area properly during the first week or so after the pigments are injected.

Removing a Tattoo Removal problems. Despite advances in laser technology, removing a tattoo is a painstaking process, usually involving several treatments and considerable expense. Complete removal without scarring may be impossible. See "The Most Common Problem: Dissatisfaction" and "Removal Techniques," below.

Allergic reactions. Although allergic reactions to tattoo pigments are rare, when they happen they may be particularly troublesome because the pigments can be hard to remove. Occasionally, people may develop an allergic reaction to tattoos they have had for years.

Granulomas.These are nodules that may form around material that the body perceives as foreign, such as particles of tattoo pigment.

Keloid formation. If you are prone to developing keloids -- scars that grow beyond normal boundaries -- you are at risk of keloid formation from a tattoo. Keloids may form any time you injure or traumatize your skin, and according to Office of Cosmetics and Colors (OCAC) dermatologist Ella Toombs, M.D., tattooing or micropigmentation is a form of trauma. Micropigmentation: State of the Art, a book written by Charles Zwerling, M.D., Annette Walker, R.N., and Norman Goldstein, M.D., states that keloids occur more frequently as a consequence of tattoo removal.

MRI complications. There have been reports of people with tattoos or permanent makeup who experienced swelling or burning in the affected areas when they underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This seems to occur only rarely and apparently without lasting effects.

There also have been reports of tattoo pigments interfering with the quality of the image. This seems to occur mainly when a person with permanent eyeliner undergoes MRI of the eyes. Mascara may produce a similar effect. The difference is that mascara is easily removable.

The cause of these complications is uncertain. Some have theorized that they result from an interaction with the metallic components of some pigments.

However, the risks of avoiding an MRI when your doctor has recommended one are likely to be much greater than the risks of complications from an interaction between the MRI and tattoo or permanent makeup. Instead of avoiding an MRI, individuals who have tattoos or permanent makeup should inform the radiologist or technician of this fact in order to take appropriate precautions, avoid complications, and assure the best results.

Other risks:
Infection -- Unclean equipment can transfer infections from one person to another person, for exmple Hepatitis and HIV. It is important to make sure that the equipment is clean and germ-free (sterile).

Allergic Reactions -- They are rare, but can cause a lot of trouble.

Most tattoos are permanent!!! Its very hard to get rid of them. Sometimes it cannot be done at all. And it often means surgery and scarring. Think very carefully before getting a tattoo.

Right way to get a Tattoo
The tattoo artist cleans the skin and tools so that they are germ-free (sterile).
The person getting the tattoo takes care of it as it heals.

I dont like this tattoo anymore. How can I get rid of it?
There are several ways to remove a tattoo but they dont always work. It can cost a lot of money. And you may need a lot of treatment. Here are some choices:
Laser treatment is the most common way to remove a tattoo. Pulses of light from the laser break up the tattoo ink. The body itself gets rid of the treated areas over the next several weeks. Most tattoos need more than one laser treatment to be fully removed.
Sanding down to lower layers of skin is another way to remove a tattoo. The area to be sanded is frozen first to lessen pain. This method is called dermabrasion. It may leave a scar.

Salt can be used to "sand" the skin, too. The area is numbed first to lessen pain. Then a mixture of table salt and water are used to rub the skin. This method is called salabrasion. It is used less often.

Acid can be put on the skin to remove the tattoo. This method leaves a scar.
You can have surgery to remove the tattoo.
New colors can be put into the skin to mask or cover up the old ones.
No, the FDA does not watch over tattoo parlors. Each state has its own laws for this.

The Most Common Problem: Dissatisfaction
According to Dr. Toombs, the most common problem that develops with tattoos is the desire to remove them. Removing tattoos and permanent makeup can be very difficult.

Skill levels vary widely among people who perform tattooing. According to an article by J.K. Chiang, S. Barsky, and D.M. Bronson in the June 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the main complication with eyelid tattooing is improperly placed pigment. You may want to ask the person performing the procedure for references and ask yourself how willing you are to risk permanently wearing someone elses mistake.

Although tattoos may be satisfactory at first, they sometimes fade. Also, if the tattooist injects the pigments too deeply into the skin, the pigments may migrate beyond the original sites, resulting in a blurred appearance.

Another cause of dissatisfaction is that the human body changes over time, and styles change with the season. The permanent makeup that may have looked flattering when first injected may later clash with changing skin tones and facial or body contours. People who plan to have facial cosmetic surgery are advised that the appearance of their permanent makeup may become distorted. The tattoo that seemed stylish at first may become dated and embarrassing. And changing tattoos or permanent makeup is not as easy as changing your mind.

Removal Techniques
Methods for removing tattoos include laser treatments, abrasion, scarification, and surgery. Some people attempt to camouflage an objectionable tattoo with a new one. Each approach has drawbacks:

Laser treatments can lighten many tattoos, some more easily and effectively than others. Generally, several visits are necessary over a span or weeks or months, and the treatments can be expensive. Some individuals experience hypopigmentation -- a lightening of the natural skin coloring -- in the affected area. Laser treatments also can cause some tattoo pigments to change to a less desirable shade.Unfortunately, knowing what pigments are in your tattoo or permanent makeup has always been difficult and has become more so as the variety of tattoo inks has multiplied. Inks are often sold by brand name only, not by chemical composition. Because the pigments are sold to tattoo parlors and salons, not on a retail basis to consumers, manufacturers are not required by law to list the ingredients on the labels. Furthermore, because manufacturers may consider the identity and grade of their pigments "proprietary," neither the tattooist nor the customer may be able to obtain this information.

There also have been reports of individuals suffering allergic reactions after laser treatments to remove tattoos, apparently because the laser caused allergenic substances in the tattoo ink to be released into the body.

Dermabrasion Dermabrasion involves abrading layers of skin with a wire brush or diamond fraise (a type of sanding disc). This process itself may leave a scar.

Salabrasion, in which a salt solution is used to remove the pigment, is sometimes used in conjunction with dermabrasion, but has become less common.

Scarification involves removing the tattoo with an acid solution and creating a scar in its place.

Surgical removal sometimes involves the use of tissue expanders (balloons inserted under the skin, so that when the tattoo is cut away, there is less scarring). Larger tattoos may require repeated surgery for complete removal.

Camouflaging a tattoo entails the injection of new pigments either to form a new pattern or cover a tattoo with skin-toned pigments. Dr. Toombs notes, however, that injected pigments tend not to look natural because they lack the skins natural translucence.

Temporary TattoosWhat About Temporary Tattoos?
Temporary tattoos, such as those applied to the skin with a moistened wad of cotton, fade several days after application. Most contain color additives approved for cosmetic use on the skin. However, the agency has issued an import alert for several foreign made tattoos. According to OCAC Consumer Safety Officer Allen Halper, the temporary tattoos subject to the import alert are not allowed into the United States because they dont carry the FDA-mandated ingredient labels or they contain colors not permitted by FDA for use in cosmetics applied to the skin. FDA has received reports of allergic reactions to temporary tattoos. In a similar action, FDA has issued an import alert on henna. Henna is approved only for use as a hair dye, not for direct application to the skin. Also, henna typically produces a reddish brown tint, raising questions about what ingredients are added to produce the varieties of colors labeled as "henna," such as "black henna" and "blue henna."

Reporting Adverse Reactions
FDA urges consumers and healthcare providers to report adverse reactions to tattoos and permanent makeup, problems with removal, or adverse reactions to temporary tattoos. The agency operates the Cosmetics Adverse Reaction Monitoring (CARM) system to monitor problems consumers experience with cosmetic products and ingredients, including color additives. Consumers and healthcare providers can register complaints by contacting their FDA district office (see the blue pages of your local phone directory) or by sending written reports of adverse reactions to.

Inks Used
The inks used in tattoos and permanent makeup (also known as micropigmentation) and the pigments in these inks are subject to FDA regulation as cosmetics and color additives. However, FDA has not attempted to regulate the use of tattoo inks and the pigment used in them and does not control the actual practice of tattooing. Rather, such matters have been handled through local laws and by local jurisdictions. But with the growth in popularity of tattooing and permanent makeup, FDA has begun taking a closer look at related safety questions. Among the issues under consideration are tattoo removal, adverse reactions to tattoo colors, and infections that result from tattooing. Another concern is the increasing variety of pigments and diluents being used in tattooing -- more than fifty different pigments and shades, and the list continues to grow. Although a number of color additives are approved for use in cosmetics, none is approved for injection into the skin. Using an unapproved color additive in tattoo ink makes the ink adulterated. Many pigments used in tattoo inks are not approved for skin contact at all. Some are industrial grade colors that are suitable for printers ink or automobile paint. Nevertheless, many individuals choose to undergo tattooing in its various forms. For some, it is an aesthetic choice or an initiation rite. Some choose permanent makeup as a time saver or because they have physical difficulty applying regular, temporary makeup. For others, tattooing is an adjunct to reconstructive surgery, particularly of the face or breast, to simulate natural pigmentation. People who have lost their eyebrows due to alopecia (a form of hair loss) may choose to have "eyebrows" tattooed on, while people with vitiligo (a lack of pigmentation in areas of the skin) may try tattooing to help camouflage the condition. Whatever their reason, consumers should be aware of the risks involved in order to make an informed decision.

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