Hey Bohemians,

Are you thinking of getting a tattoo soon? Do you already have one? Or 5? Or 10?

Statistics point at a resounding YES! And to you, I say: Right on.

But did you know that sometimes harsh chemicals in the ink that’s deposited in your skin can cause a slew of health problems?

Allergic reactions, skin infections, and blood-borne diseases, to name a few. Yikes!

HOWEVER, This doesn’t mean don’t decorate yourself, but it does mean that you should tread carefully.

Below I have included:

  1. What nasty harsh chemicals are in the ink commonly used in those parlors.
  2. The alternative ink formula on the market, and why it’s such so much better for your overall health.
  3. How to check your parlor against important health standards.

And yes, I will be using the word *parlor* a lot, because it sounds fancy schmancy. Enjoy!

Comment below your tattooing experience or tattoos! I want to hear your stories and see your body art 🙂

Pin to read later! Hover over the image below and hit “P”.

Natural Ink Alternative

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What’s In Your Ink?

Let’s just start off by saying that The FDA does not regulate tattoo inks and tattoo pigments, unlike pigments used in cosmetics applied to the skin. This is why you must be educated and know EXACTLY what’s being put into your bloodstream via tattooing.

Although you’re probably more concerned with the color, what you need to be concerned with foremost is the carrier. The carrier transports the pigment into the skin, keeping the pigment evenly mixed. Common compounds to use are ethylene glycol (antifreeze) and formaldehyde. Scared yet?

Common tattoo inks may be made from titanium dioxide, lead, chromium, nickel, iron oxides, and ash. Uhm.. no thank you. What’s more is that some of the pigments are industrial grade and used as automobile paint. Are you as upset as I am?

According to an Environmental Health News report, an ingredient found in common black tattoo inks—benzoapyrene—has caused skin cancer in animals. Okay, now I’m angry. 

Also keep in mind that tattoo inks have been known to migrate into the lymph nodes. If you don’t know what those are, they play a LARGELY significant role in immune system health.

So, if you don’t want metals/antifreeze/formaldehyde in your body, a heightened risk of skin cancer, or a compromised immune system, ask your parlor of choice what’s in the ink/carrier that they use, and if it’s non-toxic. If they don’t know, either make them find out or leave.

The formula of your ink is CRUCIAL! & Ask them if you can bring your own ink (more on that below).

The New, Healthier Alternatives

There are lots of animal product and plant based inks on the market. You want to go as natural as possible, choosing ink with no to little products made in a lab.

Below are some examples; the color of the ink determines what it’s made of.

  1. Black: logwood
  2. Yellow: turmeric
  3. Blue: sodium

There are lots of options and brands! And most of them are rather cheap (but still good quality). Google is your friend :).

Nontoxic versions of tattoo ink carriers today include purified water, witch hazel, and Listerine. These are recommends as alternatives to toxic tattoo ink carriers.

natural ink alternative

What To Look For In a Tattoo Parlor, Health Wise

Before we get to this new, natural alternative to everyday ink, let’s discuss some concerns.

Tattoo artists conduct procedures that involve skin penetration, which carries a risk of infection. Therefore, the premises and procedures where skin penetration is conducted must comply with the Public Health Regulation, 2012.

Hygiene is sooooo important when your blood is involved. The last thing you want is to leave your ink session with a disease.

Here are some important standards that parlors must (but don’t always) adhere to:

  1. All tattoo artists must be registered with the local council.
  2. Premises must be properly equipped with:
    1. A hand wash basin that has a supply of clean, warm, potable water, located in the tattooing area.
    2. A separate sink that has a supply of clean, warm water for cleaning equipment.
    3. Liquid soap (or an alcohol based hand cleaner).
    4. Single-use towels or an automatic hand dryer.
    5. Disposable gloves, clean linen and gowns/aprons that are appropriate for the skin procedures carried out at the premises.
  3. If reusable articles are sterilized on site, they must be sterilized using a bench-top sterilizer. (There must be at least one person present at the time the sterilizer is used who is adequately trained in the operation of the bench-top sterilizer).
  4. Equipment must be thoroughly cleaned (i.e. via scrubbing, using an instrument washer, and/or ultra-sonic cleaner) before processing through a bench-top sterilizer.
  5. All instruments must be wrapped and packaged prior to processing through a bench-top sterilizer.
  6. The bench-top steriliser must have a print out facility to record the cycle parameters (i.e. temp, pressure, time).
  7. Treatment areas such as benches should be cleaned between each client and/or a clean covering placed over the treatment surface .
  8. Sterile packaging should be opened just prior to starting the treatment.
  9. If needles are used in any skin penetration procedure, they must be single use and disposed into an appropriate container.
  10. Towels or other types of linen used for covering or protection during the procedure must be cleaned at the start of each treatment. Linen should be washed in detergent and hot water.
  11. To prevent cross contamination, all liquids, creams, inks and pigments must be decanted into single use containers, and a single use applicator must be used for each person undergoing the procedure (no double dipping).
  12. The area to be tattooed should be cleaned with a skin antiseptic.
  13. A clean gown or apron and single use gloves must be worn by the tattooist and other body art practitioner during a skin penetration procedure.
  14. Hands should be washed before attending a client.
  15. Shop must keep sterilization record for 1 year showing the time and date when each article was sterilized.

If any of these health act standards are violated during your appointment, LEAVE.


Be safe, educate yourself properly, and spend the money!

This is going to be on you forever, so spend good money on it & ensure what you’re getting is QUALITY and safe.

Until next time, stay WILD!