Pasco tattoo artist reacts to European Union ban on certain blues and greens found in tattoo inks, makeup

PASCO, Wash. — After the European Union placed a ban in January on certain colors found in some tattoo inks and permanent makeup, some artists in the United States are wondering if the country will start seeing similar regulations.

The ban is specifically for Blue 15 and Green 7 — colors that the New York Times reports were “based in part on decades-old research that linked their use in hair dyes with elevated risk of bladder cancer.” Officials said it is not meant to discourage tattoos but rather to make them safeer.

Justin Westfall, the owner of Hosstyle Tattoos in Pasco, said while he “understands what the government is trying to do,” he believes the ban will have the biggest impact on the tattoo ink industry.

“Zincs and iron oxides and aluminum… there’s all kinds of different metals and different toxic stuff that can go into inks,” Westfall said.

Westfall, who has worked as a tattoo artist for almost two decades, uses a specific vegan-friendly and more natural kind of ink on his clients.

“It doesn’t have a lot of the metals in it,” Westfall said.

That’s why he recommends heavily researching artists and the supplies they use before booking an appointment.

“I would do my homework on the artist, ask them what type of ink they use primarily,” Westfall said.

Ultimately, Westfall said he believes that ban or no ban, people wanting tattoos will “get whatever they want.”

“If the government was going to stop something like that or regulate it, they would do their homework as well like us as artists are supposed to do and look up something that has less this and less that… and maybe say, yeah, you guys can go with color but only these brands,” Westfall said. “It’s probably going to make a black market for color tattoos over there.”

So far, U.S. officials have not said if they will implement similar restrictions. Currently, the production of tattoo inks and pigments is unregulated in the country.