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.(iStockphoto)
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.(iStockphoto)

Thinking of getting a tattoo? Pick the colours carefully

Most neons are loaded with toxins but you can now get natural dyes. There are ways to choose the right spot too and we tell you how.
By Aishwarya Iyer | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON NOV 30, 2019 06:54 PM IST

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.

* 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; it’s generally safest to use branded inks that list their ingredients, says Dr Amit Karkhanis, 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.

Stick with the basics. Black remains safest. Blue and green inks with copper phthalocyanine pigments are safe too. (Shutterstock)
Stick with the basics. Black remains safest. Blue and green inks with copper phthalocyanine pigments are safe too. (Shutterstock)

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 8 weeks.

Best and worst spots

* 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.

* Avoid hands and feet. Sustained and direct exposure to sun, soap and water would make healing difficult and could cause the tattoo to fade.

MEMORIAL TATTOOS

Also called cremation tattoos, they have a tiny portion of the ashes of a deceased loved one mixed in with the ink

Few places offer this service in India; most are in Mumbai and Bengaluru

Where in parts of the European Union, safety norms are being put in place for the use of cremation ashes in tattoos, in India, there are no regulations yet

So far, and this trend is too new to really know of long-term effects yet, the only known impact is that healing takes longer and the tattoos are more itchy in the beginning.

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