Gelsenkirchen: “fear tattoo artists go underground”

Gelsenkirchen: "Fear tattoo artists go underground"

"It’s a total disaster": Anke Willems, operator of the "Tattoo Atelier Anke" on Von-Oven-Strabe in downtown Gelsenkirchen, has had a difficult time since the new REACH regulation came into effect.

Photo: Thomas Godde / FUNKE Foto Services

Gelsenkirchen. A month after colorful tattoo dyes were banned, a Gelsenkirchen studio is experiencing "total disaster". One reckons with nasty consequences for customers.

2022 began for the Tattoo scene as a horror year: At the beginning of the year, the EU has REACH chemicals regulation adapted. Since then, tattoo inks with certain preservatives or binders are banned. The reasoning: they could potentially cause allergic reactions. Especially in studios specializing in colorful tattoos, this has changed everything. How are those artists coping a month after the regulation came into force?

"It’s a total disaster," says Anke WillemsSpecializing in colorful motifs, she has been in the business for 20 years and has now had "probably the most difficult month" of her career. And that, although the many months with corona-conditioned restriction to closure had been truly also no bed of roses. But it is not only their own work. Also for the Customers leads the regulation from their point of view at the end in the worst case to negative consequences.

Gelsenkirchen tattoo artist: colors from abroad are a risk

"I’m sure some have already dropped the needle on. Everyone I know is still fighting their way through," says the 45-year-old, who is currently keeping herself and her studio in the city afloat with preparatory work – works that will at best be filled with paint at a later date. "But I have a fear," she says, "that many more of my colleagues go underground, in the future with itself at home in the cellar tattoo and perhaps Colors from abroad order."

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Color from the USA or China, which are easy to get on the Internet, are, however, far from meeting the old, let alone the new, EU standards. "There little interest, how compatible the colors are," says Willems. Only twice in her career, she says, has she seen allergic reactions to inks – in customers who had previously had them stitched in the U.S.

Why a Gelsenkirchen tattoo artist looks skeptically at sharpie colors

Could the stationery manufacturer Sharpie save the industry? In the meantime, REACH-compliant, colorful tattoo inks have been introduced to the market, although they are still difficult to obtain. Willems however looks sobered on the market entrance of the Ahrensberger of enterprise. "A colleague has already tried out the Edding colors, she says. "Unfortunately, after healing, half of the paint was already no longer visible." The experience so far old quality tattoos could be produced with these colors not offer.

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Willems, who, according to her own statement, "has a Good relationship with dermatologists" cultivates, knows besides: With the new colors it will have to try out first of all. "The whole Experience, which one collected with the old colors – also which concerns allergies and sensitive skin, for example in the area of scars – fall away yes." The Danger for customers with sensitive skin, is in the future much larger, because they can no longer rely on the wealth of experience of tattoo artists.

Further ban: 2023 will probably be even more difficult for tattoo studios

Willems now hopes that her supplier will soon be able to supply her with REACH-compliant paints that she can quickly get to grips with. "I hope it will be something in the next three months," she says. But the further the year progresses, the closer also the next horror date for the tattoo industry: From 2023 become Two pigments banned, suspected of being carcinogenic, the so-called "Blue15:3" and "Green 7". "Then," Willems believes, "it will be even more gloomy."

Less restricted by the new regulation is one at "Serious& Co Tattoo" on the Markenstrasse. "We do mainly black-and-white work," says studio head Ernst Krepek.

But he too is waiting for his Intermediaries soon have colorful paints on offer that meet the specifications of the REACH regulation. "I keep my hands off paints from abroad, they should be tested in Germany."

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