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June 12, 2023

HSE Recommends Restricting Hazardous Substances in Tattoo and Permanent Makeup Inks


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced on June 8, 2023, that it is recommending the restriction of hazardous substances in ink used for tattooing and permanent makeup (PMU) in Great Britain (GB). HSE states that the proposed restriction would target substances classified for carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity, skin sensitization, skin corrosion, and serious eye damage. HSE proposes concentration limits of substances in tattoo ink and PMU based on those established in the GB Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation: a concentration limit of 0.1 percent for substances that are prohibited for use in cosmetics because they are listed in Annex II or Annex VI of the Cosmetic Products Regulation (CPR). HSE proposes a derogation for 19 pigments (including Pigment Blue 15:3 and Pigment Green 7) that are prohibited for use in hair dyes but permitted for use in other types of cosmetics (such as lipsticks). According to HSE, its review of the available hazard information for these 19 pigments did not identify evidence indicating they are unsafe if used in tattoo or PMU ink. The proposed restriction is intended to protect people from any potential harmful effects that may be caused by tattoo and PMU ink.

HSE notes that this is the first time it has recommended a restriction of a substance in its role as the agency for the UK Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) framework, the chemicals regime established in GB after the United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU). According to HSE, the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in consultation with Welsh and Scottish ministers, will now decide if the restriction should be brought into law.