Cosmetics

Cosmetics Safety Q&A: Tattoos and Permanent Makeup

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Are tattoos and permanent makeup safe? How about henna and other temporary tattoos?

FDA is looking into the safety of tattoos and permanent makeup because of their growing popularity. For example, we are looking at tattoo removal, adverse reactions to tattoo colors, and infections that result from the use of these products.

Consumers should think carefully before getting a tattoo or permanent makeup and consider these facts:

  • Some people have had bad reactions to tattoo and permanent makeup inks. Some have suffered permanent disfigurement.

  • Tattoos and permanent makeup are not easily removed and in some cases may cause permanent discoloration.

  • No color additives are approved for tattoos, including those used in permanent makeup. 

  • 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.

  • Contaminated inks have caused infections, even when the tattoo artist followed hygienic procedures.

  • If you get a tattoo at a facility not regulated by your state or at facilities that use unsterile equipment, or re-use ink, you may not be accepted as a blood or plasma donor for twelve months.

To learn more, see the resources listed at Tattoos and Permanent Makeup, including the Consumer Update, Tattoo Inks Pose Health Risks.

Temporary tattoos, such as those applied to the skin with a moistened wad of cotton, fade several days after application. Many contain color additives approved for cosmetic use on the skin. However, FDA has received reports of allergic reactions to some temporary tattoos.

Henna, a coloring made from a plant, is approved only for use as a hair dye, not for direct application to the skin. In addition, products marketed as "henna" may contain other ingredients. FDA has received reports of injuries to the skin both from products marketed  as henna and from those marketed as "black henna." To learn more, see Temporary Tattoos, Henna/Mehndi, and "Black Henna" and the Consumer Update, Temporary Tattoos May Put You at Risk.

More Resources:

FDA Basics Cosmetics Page 

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Page Last Updated: 03/23/2014
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