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Temporary tattoos can cause long-lasting allergic reactions
That temporary henna tattoo may leave a longer-lasting physical effect than you had hoped for, and it may not be pretty, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday.
That’s because an extra ingredient included in the longer-lasting “black henna” tattoos in wide use today — hair dye including p-phenylenediamine, or PPD — can cause nasty allergic reactions in some people, including redness, blisters, oozing lesions, increased sensitivity to sunlight and permanent scarring. Reactions can occur right after a tattoo is applied to the surface of the skin or can appear up to two or three weeks later, the FDA reported.
Henna is a reddish-brown pigment that comes from the flowering plant Lawsonia inermis, which is native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia. People have used natural henna as a cosmetic and a dye for hair and fabrics for thousands of years. But so-called black henna, often used in tourist destinations and other specialty shops, is a different product and may not include natural henna at all. A key ingredient in the temporary tattoos is dye containing PPD, the same stuff used to color hair, to make the embellishments darker and longer-lasting.
Though the FDA consumer alert dealt with tattoos, PPD also causes allergic reactions elsewhere. A growing number of people, including me, break out in itchy welts when they color their hair with PPD-containing dyes. In my experience, this includes pretty much any product that effectively covers gray, even those advertised as "natural."
A recent study in the Journal of the German Society of Dermatology identified PPD as the culprit in the cases of seven people who developed allergic reactions to hair and eyelash dyeing. All had histories of sensitization to PPD after receiving black henna tattoos. It took about six years post-sensitization for the reaction to the hair dye to appear. The authors of the report added that PPD allergies could “have occupational impact, especially for hair dressers and cosmeticians.”
Some states have regulations overseeing temporary tattoos but others don’t, the FDA update reported. The agency asked people who suffer reactions to temporary tattoos (or other cosmetics) to notify MedWatch or a regional consumer complaint coordinator or to call 1-800-FDA-1088, to report the problem.
It's not easy setting up an interview with a tattoo legend who doesn't need any press and has no time for your shit. [Or at least my shit.] Thankfully, the Godfather of Black & Grey tattoo, Jack 'From Way Back' Rudy of Good Time Charlie's Tattooland still does a lot of conventions, and I was able to stalk him sufficiently--with the help of Edgar Hoill--to get his thoughts on everything from single-needle tattooing to kustom kars.
That interview is in this latest issue of Inked magazine, which you can pick up at newsstands or download from Zinio.
Here are a few snippets from our talk:
As one of the godfathers of Black & Gray tattooing, you're the best person to educate people on the basics. First, please describe the black & gray style.
It's something that has evolved over the years. Originally, when Charlie [Good Time Charlie Cartwright] and I started doing it, we called it "Black & White" like the photography, but then realized--with skin tones being different and so forth--that "Black & Gray" was more accurate to what we were doing because it was, ya know, from solid black to every shade of gray imaginable. It originally was a California prison style that we adopted. Being the first ones to do it in a shop, it just started out with very humble beginnings and has evolved into what it is today. It's a style with obviously no color, using solid black to the lightest shade of gray and everything in between with a person's own skin as contrast. It's actually a difficult style to master; a lot of people try to do it, and many people can do it well, but there are a lot of people who can't.
What do you think are the elements of a good tattoo, black & gray or otherwise?
I think that contrast is always an important factor; you know, sometimes using a dark background to make something light stand out. There are a lot of different aspects that make a tattoo good, regardless of what style it is: good line work, good shading, solid color (if that's what you're doing). It's more than just a good design; it's placement, it's the structure of it, where it's at...Can you tell what it is? Do you have to get right up on it? Because some miniature fine line stuff you got to get right up on it to tell what it is while other things you can read from across the room. Or if you're trying to do tribal, you want it as solid as possible. Does it move with the body? Does it go with that part of the body? There are so many factors that make a good tattoo good.