The FDA has recently posted a consumer update on tattoo safety entitled Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe?
The article is reminder that there is no such thing as an FDA-approved ink or pigment for injection into the skin for cosmetic purposes.
While tattooing seems safe for the vast majority of us who get them, the risk of course is getting a serious infection from unhygienic practices and equipment that isn’t sterile. However infections can also result from ink that was contaminated. There’s no sure-fire way to tell if the ink is safe; it can be contaminated even if the container is sealed or the label says the product is sterile. It is up to the tattoo artists or permanent makeup technicians to procure inks or pigments from reputable manufacturers and use them according to manufacturer’s instructions.
FDA has received reports of bad reactions to tattoo inks right after tattooing and even years later. There is still ongoing research about the long-term effects of the pigments and other ingredients in tattoo inks. It is always possible to become allergic to anything at anytime (and vice versa).
If you do decide to get a tattoo, make sure the tattoo parlor or salon and its artists comply with state and local laws. In San Francisco county, that means following established sterilization, sanitation, and safety standards as mandated by the Department of Health Inspections.
The full article can be found here: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm048919.htm