FDA to Study Tattoos; The SPCP Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals Holds Tattoo Pigment Vendors to Strict Guidelines

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In response to the FDA's announcement to study the pigments used for tattoos as reported by the Star Ledger on February 06, 2008, the SPCP Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (SPCP) offers the following information.

In January 2006 the SPCP put into effect a requirement that all supplier members of the SPCP who offer tattoo pigments for sale meet strict labeling and ingredient standards. These standards were the result of a Pigment Supplier Summit meeting held in 2005.

The SPCP requires their suppliers of cosmetic tattoo pigments to use FDA color additives from the FDA's FD&C and D&C color additive listings and to provide full ingredient disclosure on labeling. Material Safety and Data Sheets (MSDS) are required to be provided to purchasers as well upon request.

The FDA's reference in the article written by Robert Cohen to "industrial strength colors suitable for printers ink or automobile paint"1 does not apply to any supplier of tattoo pigments who are SPCP supplier members. It should also be noted that the allergic reactions cited involving a 2005 recall of 52,114 containers of pigments made and recalled by a Texas company did not involve an SPCP supplier member. Before this particular incident, which was reportedly limited to one pigment manufacturer, tattoo allergic reactions were considered rare.

The SPCP has provided FDA representatives with all of the foregoing information in writing, attended an FDA meeting where the subject matter pertained to pigment ingredients and safety, and has on several occasions offered the expertise of pigment manufacturers to enhance their studies of pigments. Notwithstanding the offer of support and assistance from suppliers who manufacturer pigments, the FDA has not contacted any SPCP pigment manufacturers for support. As for the FDA's statement referenced in the Star Ledger, that their research "will supplement what has been known for some time - that tattooing can lead to skin infections and diseases such as hepatitis, tetanus and even HIV due to use of equipment that is not sterile," this appears to be out of step with CDC reports and the subject matter of pigment and the study of ingredients. Additionally, there is no evidence of tetanus or HIV transmitted through tattooing to date.

The SPCP continues to offer the FDA full support during their study of pigment ingredients and their safety.


The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (SPCP) is the largest nonprofit association for the permanent cosmetics (cosmetic tattoo) industry worldwide. Members adhere to strict guidelines and a Code of Ethics. The SPCP sets the standards for the industry and is highly regarded and a trusted resource for the medical community, related industries, the media, and the general public. More information can be obtained at http://www.spcp.org


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