Tattoo Artists Face a Grayer Palette in Europe

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Along a bare torso and down a thigh, the sun glints through ocean waters and bathes coral and fish in aqueous light. On a lower leg, vivid frogs tense, as if preparing to jump from dewy leaves. A mischievous child with twinkling blue eyes stares out from an inner bicep.

In his home studio in the northern Italian village of Grado, Alex De Pase reviewed photographs of some of the thousands of designs he had inked over his career as a tattoo artist. But these skinscapes might not be possible to replicate in 2023 — at least not with the same set of colors.

New regulations on tattoo inks and permanent makeup that began taking effect across the European Union this January were meant to reduce the risk of including ingredients that could be health hazards. The regulations have also caused the biggest shakeup of the industry in memory, with ink manufacturers reformulating entire product lines to comply.

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