There are a bunch of new colours and tattoo techniques on offer—neons, brighter shades, memorial tats where you mix in a bit of a loved one’s ashes (don’t judge; everyone grieves differently). But how far is too far? Take a look:
What are the safest colours?
Neon skin inks are loaded chemicals and mercury. The reds are perhaps the worst, because they also contain the highly toxic iron oxide and cadmium.
But, if you really want to get a permanent tattoo–stick with the basics. Black remains safest.
Blue and green inks with copper phthalocyanine pigments are safe too. Some parlous mix their own inks, though it’s generally safest to use branded inks that list their ingredients, says Dr Amit Karkhanis, a laser and cosmetic physician.
Are there any natural alternatives?
Some tattoo studios have yellows and blues that are turmeric- and indigo-based. There are other colours that are naturally derived, but also many that make false claim, so always check the contents.
A good tag to look for is EU certification. Inks that say they are compliant with EU quality standards will have the lowest levels of toxicity possible.
Be cautious and plan well!
Skin tone is important when planning a tattoo. Because melanin acts as a filter, bright colours such as reds, sky blues and yellows won’t look as you expect them to–says Ritopriyo Saha, founder of the Trippink tattoo studio in Bengaluru. For dark skin tones, black and most shades of green work well.
Even if it’s not your first tattoo, do a patch test. Tattoo inks change, skin tones change. Take nothing for granted.
If there even a tiny chance that you will want the tattoo removed later on, avoid reds, yellows, and oranges.
They are the most resistant to laser removal treatments. Even for the other colours, removal takes an average of 15 visits over eight weeks.
What are the best and worst spots to get a tattoo?
Muscular parts of the body—upper arms, calves, back—are good places if you plan to get a tattoo, says Dr Karkhanis.
Avoid areas where the skin stretches such as the crease lines on the wrist, elbows, or near the knees. “It will likely take longer to heal as there is constant pulling of the skin here,” he adds.
Also, avoid hands and feet. Sustained and direct exposure to sun, soap and water would make healing difficult and could cause the tattoo to fade.
This story was originally published in HT Weekend on December 1, 2019