I like to think I live a healthy lifestyle, standing up against the consumption of processed food because of the chemicals being put in the human body. Fresh, clean and as close to its original source is what I’m looking for and am passionate about. I use coconut oil as a moisturiser, don’t use toothpaste because of the chemicals, steer away from unnecessary medications like ibuprofen, no cooking in olive oil and so on.
I also love tattoos and have a few myself, as does my wife. When we met I didn’t have any and she had 2 small tattoos but now has many more……she was beautiful when I first met her and she’s getting even sexier with each new tattoo inked on her body. Some of the sexiest people in the world have tattoos and for those that don’t, they’d be even sexier if they did. I’ve met the nicest people who have tattoos and as it’s said “people with tattoos don’t care that other people don’t have tattoos”.
Then one day my ever intuitive mother-in-law asked a really interesting question….”If you’re so concerned about what you put into your body, then isn’t getting ink permanently applied to your skin going against everything you believe in? Isn’t that a chemical?”
Naturally I wanted to go on the defensive, with a straight forward response to justify my tattoos, but nothing came out. Silence! I didn’t have an answer to such a logical question (although I think it was more of a statement). So off I went to try and prove her wrong, but more so to put my own mind at ease as I never really thought about it as deep as I needed to in order to give an educated response.
The first thing I did was ask everyones good friend, Google. Wow what a plethora of information.
- Tattoos are fine & healthy stated some
- They’re full of chemicals said others
- Depends on who the manufacturer of the ink is
- What is the tattoo parlour like
- ………and so on and so on
Not one clear and precise answer. So I dug a little more and asked my own tattoo artist. But apart from knowing the technique and that the ink she used was water based, she wasn’t 100% sure. So I asked for some sample bottles to go check out myself.
At a really basic level of understanding that I have, a tattoo is a permanent mark where pigments are inserted through pricks into the ‘top layer’ of skin. Depending on the artists choice of needles, which could be one or more, each piercing inserts tiny ink droplets.
One thing I certainly know is the pain is tolerable but at times the pain can be significant.
The biggest problem I found during my research was that ink manufacturers do not need to reveal their ingredients and some recipes may even be proprietary. Without full disclosure of ingredients, it is impossible to know for sure what is in tattoo ink. Added to this, each colour and each brand of ink has completely different ingredients.
Pigment colours can be from having heavy metals such as mercury (red), zinc (yellow, white), copper (blue, green) and nickel (black) to name a few. I even found some people getting homemade tattoos with pen ink, dirt and blood! Ouch!
Pigments are carried from the needle into the skin where these “carriers” act as a solvent. Carriers keep the ink evenly mixed and is generally either ethyl alcohol or water, although there is also the use of denatured alcohol, methanol, rubbing alcohol, propylene and glycerine. When alcohol is used it tends to increase the skins permeability, transporting more chemicals into the bloodstream.
I’m so relieved from just finding out about carriers that that my tattoos have been used with water as the carrier.
So I guess from what I could find there isn’t a clear answer, but I still raises the question as to whether a tattoo is healthy. It’s not a view as to whether you will have an allergic reaction or infection as you should always follow the rule of ensuring you are aware of these risks. It’s a view as to whether it is deemed healthy to have colour injected into my skin, considering I strongly believe in treating your body with respect.
Am I now a hypocrite for tattooing my body? Or am I just getting this thought process wrong? Obviously I feel the latter, but it has created an interesting conversation with myself, who I’m slowly convincing it is ok to have tattoos. But doubt still lingers.
In 2010, 25% of Australians under the age of 30 had tattoos . In 2013, The Australian Tattoo & Body Art Expo which boasts some of the best tattoo artists in Australia and from around the world had over 40,000 visitors.
There is no real benefit of getting a tattoo except to please yourself and some are getting cosmetic tattoos such as permanent makeup. Others may actually even envy your tattoo. Tattoos are very much in fashion today, in fact some may say it is mainstream and popular but remember, once it is there, it is very expensive (and apparently painful) to get removed. Tattoos can cost thousands of dollars and considering it will be with you for the rest of your life, you want to be sure.
So next time I’m asked whether I think a tattoo is healthy, I will respond with ‘that of course depends on what carrier is used to inject into your skin, in the same way you can buy a food name being organic, processed or GMO’.
But for the time being, I think I might just completely ignore my mother-in-laws question and change the subject immediately.