Tattoo ink is a combination of the ink itself, a dye to make it the color that you desire such as “minerals, vegetable dyes, plastics, and metallic salts” and a carrier liquid that helps the ink flow and deposit more easily under your skin. Manufacturers of tattoo ink are actually not required to list ingredients, according to this article, so this may pose problems as some of the chemical compounds used in the ink may cause an allergic reaction, or may even be carcinogenic.
The term ink is used a bit loosely, since most of these products aren’t really inks at all. It’s made of two basic components; pigments and carriers. Pigments are basically anything that can be finely ground down to provide color like minerals, vegetable dyes, plastics, and metallic salts. Carriers are liquids used to deliver the pigments beneath the skin; common carriers are listerine, purified water, vodka, glycerine, propylene glycol, or witch hazel. The FDA says they are doing research on the safety of tattoo ink.
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