Society is finally coming around to accept tattoos as a cultural norm. The shift from "that guy looks scary" to "that guy looks interesting" -- it's happening.
Ah. It's the time we've all been waiting for.
Then insert: Heavy Metals.
Heard of 'em? They're totally ruining the fun.
I am a cosmetic tattoo artist by trade and I taught myself to be a tattooer over the years in between microblading eyebrows and eyeliner. I have an affinity for all things ink + needle, for its ability to create a transformation for someone on a physical and even emotional/spiritual level.
However, it has been my own run with autoimmune symptoms I have learned a few things about the presence of heavy metals in tattoo ink that have made me question if I will ever get tattooed again.
What are Heavy Metals, anyway?
Heavy Metals are organic substances such as arsenic, copper, iron, nickle, lead, titanium, and mercury. These metals are what gives the ink it's color and the reason it stays in the skin for so long.
While toxins of every kind are harmful, heavy metals pose a unique threat. Not only are they damaging in their own right, they are also a form of neurotoxin (a poison that disrupts nerve function and confuses your immune system). Heavy metal neurotoxins can inflame and irritate our central nervous system (especially our brain), causing multiple symptoms such as memory loss, brain fog, fatigue, and depression. Toxic heavy metals can also promote inflammation in the digestive tract, releasing poisons into our gut as well. As if this isn’t bad enough, heavy metals also serve as a source of food for viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens in our body.- Anthony William, Medical Medium
The Heavy Metal + Tattoo Connection
Unfortunately guys, we're not talking about Black Sabbath.
I have uncovered throughout my personal journey that there are major links between autoimmune conditions and tattoos, as many tattoo inks contain copious amounts of heavy metals which are unregulated by the FDA here in the US.
In fact, the heavy metal contents of many traditional inks in the US would be illegal in most regulated European countries.
When it comes to the actual tattooing process, these substances are implanted into the tissues of the skin where they can easily enter the bloodstream and settle into organs inside the body.
The good news is, this information has NOT stopped me from microblading and doing permanent makeup.
It has, however, motivated me to make healthier choices in the pigments I use on my clients. For the last 3 years I have devoted my practice to only using heavy-metal free pigments.
Although heavy metal-free pigments are available for permanent makeup, I have yet to come across heavy-metal inks for body tattoos. But even at that, there are companies (which I list below) that are cleaning things up to a great extent.
How To Protect Yourself
Awareness that not all tattoo pigments & inks are created equal, is your best defense. This isn't an article to persuade anyone from getting tattoos or permanent makeup, but rather to show you that you have options-- especially if you are already dealing with a health issue.
More than anything, it's not that a consumer should fear getting tattoos, but it is important they know what's in the ink/pigment thier artist is using and the potential effects.
When it comes to microblading and permanent makeup, the best in the industry is PhiBrows, as they have developed a synthetic alternative to heavy metals to achieve their colors.
As far as tattoo inks, it is hard pressed to come across a brand that is heavy metal free just yet. What you will find are companies going above and beyond to ensure lower levels of heavy metals and elimination of the most harmful ones. Trusted brands include:
Alla Prima Ink
Arcane Tattoo Inks
Bloodline & Skin Candy Tattoo Inks
Dynamic Tattoo Inks
Fantasia Tattoo Inks
Formula 51 Tattoo Ink
Intenze Tattoo Ink
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink
Mom’s Ink by Millennium Colors, Inc.
Panthera Black Tattoo Ink
Radiant Colors Tattoo Ink
Sacred Color Tattoo Inks
The Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie
The best news here is that you can help your body remove these toxic substances. The best course of action, if you already have tattoos or don't plan on stopping, is to incorporate this detox smoothie into your daily routine:
According to Anthony William, author of the New-York Times Best Seller "Medical Medium: Secrets To Mystery Illness & How To Finally Heal", this heavy metal smoothie is one of the best things we can all do, tattooed or not, for our health.
This smoothie is not only delicious, it's also perfectly designed to include five key ingredients that work together in synergy to pull heavy metals like mercury, lead, aluminum, nickel, copper, and cadmium out of your organs where they accumulate.
Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie Recipe via Medical Medium
2 cups wild blueberries
1 cup cilantro
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp barley grass juice powder
1 tsp Hawaiian Spirulina
1 small handful of Atlantic dulse
Optional: water to blend
In a high speed blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. If a thinner consistency is desired, add up to 1 cup of water. Enjoy!
My hope is that you found the information presented here helpful. I don't believe in living in fear, but instead to be aware and empowered by our choices.
Thank you for stopping by and reading!
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This is my story of finally healing acne and how you can, too.
When most people get tattoo they are aware of their health risks in regards to infection, but not about the risks of the inks being used.
I started questioning ingredients in the pigments I used in 2013 when a friend of mine had a reaction to a tattoo I gave her. At the time I was using iron-oxide based permanent makeup pigments. It shocked me this had happened and I dove into as much research as I could on the topic.
What I discovered was quite alarming. Not only did most American companies not disclose thier ingredients, but none of these companies were regulated by the FDA either.
Because of this, it was impossible for me to try and break down what exactly had caused the issue for her. As of recent many tattoo companies are finally being forced to disclose exactly what's in thier products, as required by California law.
However, the current stance of the FDA when it comes to tattoo pigments and inks goes something like this:
“Because of other public health priorities and a previous lack of evidence of safety concerns, FDA has not traditionally regulated tattoo inks or the pigments used in them.”
So, when your country shows minimal concern for the safety of the industry you work in, what do you do?
You either take advantage of it and do what you want or -- you start looking to progressive movements in other parts of the world, like Germany, Denmark, Austria and New Zealand, who are raising flags on the issue at hand.
Most consumers are aware of the infection risks, but few are aware of the chemical risks,” said Anke Meisner, a policy officer at the German Federal Ministry of Food & Agriculture and a panel member at the ESOF conference.
A recent JRC report indicated that inks imported from the U.S. were responsible for two-thirds of the tattoo-related medical alerts sent to European authorities, the report says. A further one-quarter of these problematic inks came from China, Japan, and some European countries, while the provenance of 9% of products was unknown.
What I have found in my reasearch is that the cleanest, most regulated pigments in the world are not coming from American companies, but from European companies.
It is the primary reason I choose to use PhiBrows pigments for permanent makeup. When the owner, Branko Babic, is formulating, he is taking into consideration all the European laws which are currently the strictest in the world.
Motivated by the Council of Europe’s recommendations, about one-third of EU countries, including Germany, Spain, and France, implemented a mishmash of their suggestions through national laws. For example, among other regulations, Germany has made it illegal for tattoo inks in the country to contain any chemicals on the Council of Europe’s list of substances banned in cosmetics. “What is not safe on the skin is not safe in the skin,” Germany’s Meisner said.
With automimmime illness and other diseases on the rise, why risk adding to the problem of an already compromised immune system? When my clients are coming to me with hairloss because of medical and age-related issues, these are the questions I ask myself.
I am personally grateful to the PhiBrows team and my teacher, Branko Babic, for being a forerunner in the advancement of this industry's safety and health standards. Branko's tools and pigments are certified in Austria (the only country that currently certifies for tattoo ink and tool safety) for microbiologcal and heavy metal safety.
Microblading, as well as all cosmetic tattoo applications, can be done in a safe way. Remember that it is always your right to have full disclosure on all materials being used in your permanent makeup or tattooing application. Don't hesitate to ask questions and be sure to feel comfortable with the answers you receive.
As always, thank you for reading!
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