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Roger Weller, geology instructor

Tattoo Ink
by Tonia Encinas
Physical Geology
Spring 2016  

What Is in the Ink ?

There has been a controversy about what is found in the tattoo ink. Many people will research what the chemicals are or even the minerals used, some tattoo ink will not disclose what is in the ink. Through extensive investigation and research, the findings in the primary colors of the ink used for tattoo ink, also known as body art display very vibrant colors and great accent to one’s body. There are many different inks used to tattoo with. There is organic based and chemical based (dangerous), many people will mix their own inks such as Hawaii. Hawaii will use pigments and organic material to help with mixing the great colors and art that is injected into the skin. The chemical based will be used primarily for prison tattoos or people that do not know how to mix their own ink and will mix the wrong formula. It is highly suggested to make sure you have a good idea before getting a tattoo to inform yourself what is being injected. The organic inks that are mixed are most effective for longer lasting as well as safer for the participant being tattooed. The primary colors used for tattoo ink, that is not FDA approved, would be black, white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo. FDA does not regulate the formulas used in the inks for injecting under the skin. For all colors listen they are mixed with a percentage of pigments, acrylic resin, glycerin, H2O, rubbing alcohol, and which hazel.

 Acrylic resin is a thermoplastic group from compounds in acrylic acid or methacrylic acid, meaning when heated up it is in liquid form (1).  Glycerin is a humectant, meaning that it attracts moisture to the skin. This is used in most of soap, lotion, and also in food we consume, it is said that glycerin is sweet tasting. Isopropyl alcohol is rubbing alcohol; this will keep the tattoo disinfected when giving the tattoo (4). Alcohol will dry the skin and help with keeping the moisture down beneath the skin, helping the tattoo stay beneath the skin. Witch hazel will help with the pain of the needles that are going in and out of skin. This will help with firming the skin and reduce the bleeding during the ink injection. Also helps with disinfecting the area while being injected as the alcohol may evaporate over time. Which hazel is useful after the tattoo is done also it will help with healing processes as well. Many inks that are mixed have more than one mineral deposited in the ink. 
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Compliments of straight razor place 
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Although there are many different chemical and pigment variations that are used to make the formulas used for ink injection. This link provided below will help you with other chemicals used in other inks and the colors that use them (3). There are many ways to create ink to inject under the skin, but the formula may be hazardous to the participant. Even though many people will mix their own inks the formula is difficult to get the percentages for injectable inks. There are many tattoo artists that do not know what is in their ink that they use, they will say things like it is organic and vegan based inks. This means that they do not mix their own and will buy them for a distributer that mixed the chemicals in nontoxic formula for use. The tattoo artist should not have a problem showing their bottles that they will use on you. On the back of the bottle will have the company name that they use and the chemical formula that is in the bottle, it will not have the percentages for the formulas used. It is also state don the bottle that it is not FDA approved. The bottle has a warning label that says use at own risk also will state that one should test a small area with the ink that is being used to see if the risk of allergic reaction is a concern.

Black ink has acrylic resin, pigment black (carbon black), glycerin, water, isopropyl alcohol, witch hazel (2). The pigment “carbon black” is a fine carbon powder used as a pigment, this is made by burning hydrocarbons in insufficient air. This pigment main use is for reinforcing filler used in rubber products and tires. The toxicity of this pigment is dangerous if inhaled but no finding has been documented about tattoo ink being injected with this material is toxic. Although studies have not proven the safety of this in small percentages of the carbon being used in the ink to make the color. The image below is an example of an allergic reaction and infection. This will leave horrible scaring and the ink will not look black.
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            White ink has acrylic resin, titanium dioxide, and water (2). Titanium dioxide is also known as titania, naturally occurring of titanium formula TiO2 (6). When used as a pigment it is called pigment white 6. Using witch hazel will dilute the color too much for it to show in the surface on the skin. White ink is used for accents in the tattoo and will not require much to be out into the ink based formula. 
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            Red ink has acrylic resin, pigment red 210, pigment blue 15, glycerin, water, isopropyl alcohol, witch hazel (2). Red ink has the most findings in allergic reactions most cases were reported when mercury was incorporated in the making of the red dye for tattoo ink. Official name for pigment red 210 is naphthol red, it is an organic synthetic pigment that originated from china and has distributers globally (9). Main uses for pigment red 210 is found in many ink usages such as printing ink and tattoo inks. Pigment blue 15 may cause eye irritation, irritation in the skin, and repertory irritation. The uses include ink for printers and textile dying, tattoo ink, paint, plastic, rubber, paper and many other uses. This pigment is nontoxic. In the image below shows the dangers of some red inks that are mixed with the wrong percentages of the formulas.
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            Orange ink has acrylic resin, pigment orange 13, pigment red 210, glycerin, water, isopropyl alcohol, witch hazel (2). Pigment orange 13 also known as fast orange (4). The uses are for textile printing such as water based inks, industrial paint, and water based decorative paint. This pigment is also found in some cosmetology products. Originated in china the raw materials include, Sulfonated castor oil 3,3'-Dichlorobenzidine Sodium Nitrite Hydrochloric Acid Sodium hydroxide. Orange is a harder color erase with laser treatment and hardest to cover up because of the bright color. 
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            Yellow ink has acrylic resin, pigment yellow 65, titanium oxide (2). Pigment yellow 65 also known as fast yellow (6). It originated and is distributed from china. The uses for the pigment has a main use in paint but there are limited uses such as, printing ink, plastic, rubber, textile. Titanium oxide is also titanium dioxide it is one of the top fifty chemicals that is produced worldwide. It’s a white, opaque and naturally occurring mineral found in two forms rutile and anatase. Both of these have titanium dioxide and is bound to impurities. It has variety of uses it is odorless and absorbent. It can be found in food, paint, and cosmetics. It can be used as a sunscreen in cosmetics. In the image below will show that yellow ink will fade a lot quicker.

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            Green in consist of acrylic resin, pigment green, glycerin, water, isopropyl alcohol, witch hazel (2). The pigment green also known as pigment green 7. When used as a pigment its name is chrome green. It is made from a chemical reaction from copper phthalocyanine and the halogenating agent. It is not hazardous it may cause irritation to the skin, eyes, upper repertory infection if inhaled, or if ingested may cause other problems (7). Due to the stability of the pigment it is used in the ink for tattoos, many different plastics, coatings and, used in cosmetics except what is used for the eyes. Green tattoos fade a lot quicker and have a harder time to stay under the skin.
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            Blue ink has some of the same pigments and chemicals to make its formula. Which include acrylic resin, titanium dioxide, pigment blue 15, glycerin, water, isopropyl alcohol, witch hazel (2). The titanium dioxide used in the ink will make the pigment blue 15 more vibrant but the lasting of the ink to persist vibrant is not likely to last as long as the other inks that do not use titanium dioxide (6). In the plastics it will give a lighter blue tint although with more pigment added will add a darker blue tint to it. the pigment blue 15 may be used for dying in many different forms. In the blue tattoo image below it is noticeable the infection as well the irritation.
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            Indigo has the same reaction as the blue ink does. It does not have a lasting effect under the skin due to the titanium dioxide. This ink includes the chemical formula acrylic resin, titanium dioxide, pigment violet 1, glycerin, water, isopropyl alcohol, witch hazel (2). Pigment violet 1 is one of the high grade industrial paints, implement enamels, agricultural equipment and power coating, solvent, UV, ink jet, polyester films, offset inks, and metal deco printing (8). Wood stain finishes when blended with yellow and carbon black is also a neat idea of this pigment. Purple ink may lead to infection but most commonly it will fade over time quick. It will have a harder time sticking and will leave gaps in the ink showing the missing parts of the color. 
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Compliments of Ilde Encinas

            There are many different inks that are used and all inks will have the pigments listed above to make the ink. The difference that I did not list was that there will be other chemicals with different minerals used. These other ones could be potentially dangerous to inject into the skin. Leave the inks to the professionals and do not mix your own unless the percentages are correct and safe for injecting under the skin. One does not have to be a professional to order ink. Do the research to find out what is exactly in the formula to make the ink that is going to be used for tattooing. Having a horrible experience with a tattoo will leave one not wanting to get more body are done and may even view them as being revolting. Make sure the tattoo is spelled right if there is lettering and it is exactly what you want. May lead into laser removal if not pleased with it.

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     "You will have to have the tattoo removed.  It was not authorized by Disney."
      cartoon from Roger Weller

Works Cited

1.    Conjecture Corporation. 2003-2016.

2.    Acsundergrad. 2013.

3.    LoveToKnow Corp. 2006-2016.

4.    Chemical Book. 2016.

5.    The Organic Make-Up Company. 2013.

6.    Vibfast pigment PVT. LTD. Organic Pigments. AZO Pigments. 2008.

7.    Unilex Colours & Chemicals Ltd. 2016.

8.    Lansco Colors. 2016.

9.    Chmnet. 2016.


11. Compliments of straight razor place. 2016.

12. Compliments of Herbaliz. 2004- 2016.

13. Compliments of Popsugar.2008.

14. Ink Done Right.2016.

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16. Tattoo ink.2016.

17. Reddit.2016.

18. Northeast.2014.

19. Hubpages.2016.

20. Ilde Encinas photo .2009.

21. Lchluter, Lana R.N, Chicago Permanent Makeup, 2016.

22. Slodive.2013.