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Tattoo inks and permanent make-up

An increasing number of New Zealanders are choosing to get tattoos. One in three under 30 year olds reportedly have them, and there is a greater awareness around the need for the tattoo, and the ink used, to be safe. 

In November 2011, we approved a new standard to better manage the risks associated with tattoo inks and permanent make-up substances. 

The new standard, called the Tattoo and Permanent Make-up Group Standard, is in line with international best practice. It is intended to look after the health of people working in the industry as well as those receiving tattoos and permanent makeup procedures. In preparing the standard, the EPA consulted with professional tattooists, beauty therapists and health agencies. 

Understanding the risks

Bottles of ink, one brown bottle in the centre is in focusTo help importers, manufacturers and suppliers of inks understand how they can manage the risks associated with tattoos and permanent make-up, a set of guidelines has also been developed to accompany the standard.

The guidelines provide information about preservatives, colourants and heavy metals that inks should not contain. They also outline some of your responsibilities if you are an importer or manufacturer.

The guidelines should be read along with the group standard.

Read the guidelines now (pdf, 1.5 mb)

Read the group standard (pdf 167 kb)