Tattoos are seemingly everywhere and are widely accepted as a statement — whether it be cultural, religious, fashion or personal.
Aside from the reason why you get a tattoo and where you get it, what exactly is inside tattoo ink?
You can’t be 100% certain because manufacturers of inks and pigments are not required to reveal the contents. A professional who mixes their own inks from dry pigments will be most likely to know the composition. Most tattoo inks technically aren’t inks, they’re composed of pigments that are suspended in a carrier solution. Pigments are primarily metal salts, some plastics and there are probably some vegetable dyes as well. The pigment provides the colour of the tattoo and the purpose of the carrier solution is to disinfect the pigment, keep it evenly mixed, and provide for ease of application. Harmful chemicals are present in most mainstream tattoo inks and have been linked to cancer and endocrine disruption. Pretty much anything that can be used as a pigment and has been at one time or another.
Tattoo ink carrier may be a single substance or a mixture. The purpose of the carrier is to keep the pigment evenly distributed in a fluid matrix, to inhibit the growth of pathogens, to prevent clumping of pigment, and to aid in application to the skin. Safest and most common tattoo ink ingredients: ethyl alcohol, purified water, witch hazel, Listerine, propylene glycol and glycerine. Toxic substances found in tattoo ink: denatured and rubbing alcohols, ethylene glycol and formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde.
There are many other substances that could be found in an ink and the tattooist has the choice of mixing his or her own ink — mixing dry dispersed pigment and a carrier solution or purchasing what are called pre-dispersed pigments. All of these ingredients shouldn’t scare you as there are numerous substances that we ingest every single day of our lives that aren’t good for us, some of them naturally occurring. Just like all things, be aware and be conscious of what you’re doing and all will be well.