Restriction for tattoo inks

Restriction on the use of tattoo inks entered into force

Already with Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/2081 of 14 December 2020, amending Annex XVII of Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 (REACH), a comprehensive restriction of substances in tattooing inks or permanent make-up was introduced. Initially, a transitional period still applied to the use of corresponding mixtures. However, after 04.01.2022, affected mixtures may no longer be used for tattooing purposes.

The restriction covers mixtures containing carcinogenic, germ cell mutagenic and toxic for reproduction substances, each of category 1A, 1B or 2, but excluding those substances whose classification is based on effects occurring only after exposure by inhalation. In addition, mixtures containing skin sensitizing substances of category 1, 1A or 1B, skin corrosive substances of category 1, 1A, 1B or 1C or skin irritant substances of category 2 as well as severely eye damaging substances of category 1 or eye irritant substances of category 2 are also subject to the restriction. In addition, the restriction also covers mixtures containing certain substances listed in Annex II or Annex IV of Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 and other substances listed in a supplementary Annex 13 to the new restriction. Separate limit values apply for the individual substances and specific uses.

The prohibition of use applies to all “tattooing purposes”, regardless of whether this is done commercially or privately. Any injection or introduction of the mixture concerned into the skin, mucous membrane or eyeball of a human being by means of any process with the aim of creating a mark or motif on the person’s body is thus prohibited. Residual stocks of tattoo inks that do not meet the requirements may also not be used up after 04.01.2022. Enforcement authorities will also be able to check how any remaining stocks have been handled. Affected companies should therefore be able to provide suitable evidence that use after the deadline has been ruled out (e.g. through proof of disposal).

So far, there is no specific criminal sanktion for the use of the tattoo inks in question. However, this does not mean that violations would be without consequences. Competent authorities can issue appropriate orders to ensure compliance with the ban. If such an order is violated, there is also a risk of criminal sanctions. Due to the toxicological properties of the paints concerned or their ingredients, customers may also be liable for damages if prohibited paints (e.g. residual stocks) continue to be used. In order to avoid corresponding risks, tattoo artists should only use inks that are properly labeled in accordance with the restriction as of the effective date. This is already because the corresponding information according to the packaging or instructions for use must be made available to the customer.

For further details, see also the interview with Martin Ahlhaus in Feelfarbig magazine (, available at Haftung, Strafen, Import: Rechtliche Aspekte der Tattoo-REACH.

Do you have any questions about this news, or would you like to discuss it with the author? Feel free to contact: Martin Ahlhaus.

5. January 2022 Martin Ahlhaus