United States: According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), almost half of the samples gathered from permanent makeup ink products and almost 25 percent of tattoo ink products were found to be infected with bacteria. 

The cases of infection have been reported, and at a massive scale, despite the FDA’s continuous warning for years after previous outbreak investigations in US shops. 

Guidance issued by the FDA 

According to the FDA, it issued a guideline the previous year for tattoo ink makers, which asked them to ramp up precautions for a safer environment across the industry, as CBS News reported. 

However, since 2003, as per the agency, tattoo makers have made eighteen recalls when contamination in inks was found during several investigation rounds. 

FDA Uncovers Bacteria Lurking in Makeup Inks in US. Credit | Adobe Stock
FDA Uncovers Bacteria Lurking in Makeup Inks in US. Credit | Adobe Stock

The recently held study is the latest bid by the FDA to conduct tests and turn up contamination in body inks sold in the US. The study findings were published in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal on Tuesday. 

More about the new study of the FDA 

The scientists of the FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research took samples from many tattoo and permanent makeup inks, which were bought from fourteen manufacturers. 

The study found contamination in products containing permanent makeup products from manufacturers based either domestically or imported from international producers in countries such as France and China. 

The scientists identified bacteria present on a large scale in permanent makeup inks when compared with tattoo inks. 

Nine of 49 samples of tattoo ink contained bacterial growth. Meanwhile, almost half (17) of the 35 permanent makeup inks were found to be contaminated with microorganisms in the study. 

Moreover, according to Seong-Jae Kim, a microbiologist with the FDA’s National Center for Toxicology Research, “There was no clear link between a product label claiming sterility and the actual absence of bacterial contamination,” as CBS News reported. 

Details about the study 

For this purpose study, scientists specifically looked for a particular type of bacteria that could grow without needing the presence of oxygen. 

Previously, research performed by Kim’s Center and others looked for contamination in inks. However, the current study is conducted for the first time to categorically look for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria in these inks. 

Kim said, “Our findings reveal that unopened and sealed tattoo inks can harbor anaerobic bacteria, known to thrive in low-oxygen environments like the dermal layer of the skin, alongside aerobic bacteria,” as CBS News reported. 

The presence of anaerobic bacteria called Cutibacterium acnes was the most common finding in permanent makeup inks, which generally causes acne and implant-associated infections. 

Moreover, bacteria’s such as Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus saprophyticus, accuser of urinary tract infection, were found. 

The study authors stated, “These findings indicated that the actual sterilization process may not be effective to remove all microorganisms, or the label claims may not be accurate,” as CBS News reported. 


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