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Is Pigment Regulation Coming to Australia?

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

The European Union is a hotbed of regulation and has been for many years. Politicians are always striving to make sure that products are better or safer and are certainly not shy when it comes to bringing in harsh measures as needed. This is certainly of concern for anyone involved in the tattoo industry and wondering if they need cosmetic tattoo insurance, as some regulation may be making its way down under. So what can you learn from developments in Europe and how everything may change in Australia?

Potential Health Risks

Scientists believe that the pigments and inks used in a typical tattoo find their way into the body and extend far beyond the actual tattoo site itself. Some believe that the pigment will eventually break down and some particles may become trapped in the lymphatic system, interfering with the body's natural defence system. By extension, this could present a significant challenge in the future as the body would not be as capable of fighting off cancers and may be immune-deficient.

Manufacturer Attention

Pigment and ink manufacturers are certainly looking at regulations, and many of them are, in any case, taking strides to improve their products in line with safety. Some companies may already have amended their product line before regulations came into force as they tried to eliminate potentially hazardous ingredients.

The most forward-thinking companies look closely at the raw ingredients they use in search of impurities that could have potentially adverse health implications. However, not all organisations are the same. Some brands may decide to continue "as is" for as long as possible.

New EU Regulations

In the EU, new regulations were introduced in 2021 but came into force in January 2022. All manufacturers, brands and tattoo artists must now be compliant across the European Union, and the full list of ingredients must be printed on an attached label. You can read the full text of the regulations, including the affected substances, here.

It certainly pays to understand some of the details in terms of what is being regulated or restricted and how everything is likely to be checked once the regulations are enforced.

Focusing on the Colourants

Much of the attention is focused on the colourants, which are made from finely ground solids mixed with alcohol or water to form a paste. There are many thousands of chemicals used in the manufacture of these colourants, and the manufacturing process will throw up many impurities. Unfortunately, some of these byproducts can be highly carcinogenic, and as some manufacturers have tried to experiment over time, increasingly unusual impurities have become a major issue.

Restricting Chemical Byproducts

The regulations as introduced by the European Union will effectively limit how many chemical byproducts can be produced during the manufacturing process. They can only be present in a very low concentration (often classified in parts per billion). The pigment manufacturers will be required to submit bulk batches of colourant for analysis to see if everything is compliant before the regulator will issue a licence.

The New Marketplace

So, across the European Union, salon owners and artists must now conform to the regulation and should only buy their products from manufacturers who will, in turn, comply. These manufacturers will be able to use a specific label with a bright turquoise application to show that the pigmentation is compliant and okay for use.

But how does this affect business in Australia?

Changing Landscape

Up until recently, no approval process was necessary, and no government body had any direct control over what was used in each product and what goes into a customer's skin. However, certain states have taken up the cause, and regulations might be introduced in Queensland in late 2022. If these rules are indeed rolled out, you can imagine that they will be adopted by other states and territories in short order, and they will cover everyone from the manufacturer down to the tattoo artist. It's likely that cosmetic tattoo insurance providers will insist on compliance.

Possible Introduction

Still, no regulations have been enshrined into law as discussions continue in the industry. However, if they are introduced in the currently proposed forms, companies that sell pigments for use in Australia will be affected. Nevertheless, there is likely to be a moratorium for one year to allow everybody to come into compliance.

If you're responsible for buying in stock, you should keep a close eye on how the regulations unfold and buy compliant products. In addition, you should always make sure that you follow any rules to satisfy the requirements of your cosmetic tattoo insurance. Significant penalties may apply if any business owner or person uses a banned pigment following introduction.

Compliant Analysis Certificate

Under proposed regulations in Australia, imported pigments will need to satisfy local requirements and display a "compliant analysis certificate." This is likely to be in line with EU requirements. Alternatively, Australian regulators will accept a certificate issued by the approved laboratory in Europe or a NATA accredited laboratory. Tattoo businesses do not need to worry about obtaining such a certificate as the onus will be on the manufacturer to be compliant before the goods can be imported and used in Australia.

Changes in Availability

If introduced, these new regulations may lead to some changes in terms of availability and choice, with certain popular colourants likely to be unavailable. This is due to the level of impurities typically found in those colourants and the fact that they are difficult to regulate at very low concentrations.

Being Aware

It's important for salon owners to keep a close eye on developments and stay in touch with industry representatives. If regulations do appear in Australia, safety and compliance must come first. Cosmetic tattoo insurance companies will also insist that the covered party uses the right products and is not likely to foul the new rules. After all, if the ingredients in certain pigments are alleged to be carcinogenic, and if a customer were to make a claim, this would certainly affect both the insurance supplier and the company or person providing the tattoo.

Got Questions About Pigment Regulation and Cosmetic Tattoo Insurance?

If you need any more information about how pigmentation, ingredients, colouration and compliance could affect you from an insurance point of view, reach out to Salonsure for advice. We provide high-quality insurance products for a vast array of salon owners across Australia.


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