Could tattoo ink/pigment contamination concern apply to normal cosmetics?

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetic good manufacturing Cosmetics Food and drug administration

Could tattoo ink/pigment contamination concern apply to normal cosmetics?
The Food and Drug Administration has recently issued a warning in regards to ink/ pigments in tattoos having the potential to become contaminated by bacteria, mold, and fungus, if not handled in a sterilized environment. In this instance, Cosmetics Design wondered if the concern stretched to traditional cosmetic ingredients...

Although the administration’s main concern is with the potential contamination of tattoo inks, spokesperson Sebastian Cianci informed USA that although the warning is not for traditional cosmetics, some pigments in tattoos may also be the same ones used in cosmetic products.

However, he adds that; “Because cosmetic manufacturers are not required to register their products/ingredients with FDA, we can't be more specific with the information."

Cianci does underline though, that in any instance, companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics, as well as tattoo inks, have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their products and that “proper sourcing of ingredients and laboratory testing for ensuring conformance with appropriate microbiological specifications are among the recommended cosmetic good manufacturing practices."


Steps outlined by the FDA to help ensure inks/pigments are free of harmful contaminants in tattoos include; using hygienic processing techniques, using preservatives to prevent the growth of microorganisms and/or validating post-manufacture processing and testing to ensure safety.

"Use of sterile water to dilute inks also helps to ensure that bacteria are not introduced during the dilution process. (Unboiled tap, bottled, distilled, and filtered water are not sterile and should not be used to dilute inks​.)"

For more information on what the administration says about potential contamination, please see here.

Contamination alerts

Last year, the FDA warned cosmetic companies over importing products that may be contaminated, stating they may be subject to removal and analysis by District offices. 

A ‘Detention Without Physical Examination of Cosmetics Due to Microbiological Contamination’, Import alert 53-17, was issued alongside a list of firms and their products subject to the alert.

Then, the administration had revealed that; “Laboratory analyses had found Citrobacter freundii and Pseudomonas stutzeri in eye shadow and Xanthomonas maltophilia and a high aerobic plate count in the eye shadow component of a make-up kit.”

Related topics Regulation & Safety Color Cosmetics

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