Is there such a thing as a green tattoo?
According to Planet Green, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved “Any tattoo inks for injection into the skin, and many ink pigments used are industrial strength colors suitable for printers’ ink or automobile paint.“ The eco-quality of your tattoo can also depend on color.
Treehugger notes the following...
Heavy metals are used to give tattoo pigments their permanent color. The specific ingredients that are used in the pigments differ by color and by brand, but may include not only lead and arsenic, but also antimony, beryllium, chromium, cobalt, and nickel -- metals that have also been linked to bad outcomes in people. The amount of these metals in a tattoo may be substantial. For example, AESI states that the ink used for an index card sized (3” by 5”) tattoo contains 1.23 micrograms of lead, which is more than double the amount permitted per day under California’s Proposition 65.
Red is the most toxic tattoo ink color according to Treehugger's sources because to get that red pigment certain worrisome ingredients like cadmium, iron oxides or mercury (cinnabar) are used. Safer tattoo colors may include blue and green which contain pigments derived from copper salts, "Black pigments made from carbon black or India ink, white pigments made from zinc or titanium white, purple pigments made from dioxazine/carbazole, and brown pigments." To get the entire scoop on colors for tattoo ink visit Treehugger.
What about eco-friendly tattoo removal?
If you're interested in tattoo removal, you may actually may have some greener options. According to Off Beat Ink, “Tattoo removal surgeons can promote more eco-friendly policies by switching from tetrafluorethane (the chemical sprayed on your skin to prevent scarring during removal) to a carbon dioxide spray. This spray accomplishes the job just as efficiently, and simultaneously reduces the environmental impact.”
Is there eco-friendly tattoo care?
Rose Tattoo makes organic tattoo aftercare such as rose or laveder balm, both USDA Certified Organic.
If you're not opposed to short-term solutions you can try an eco-friendly body henna or a safe temporary black Earth Jagua Body Ink kit.
The final word:
Tattoos are not very earth-friendly. Some types of tattoo removal are more eco-friendly than others, but the earth-friendly removals are not used across the board yet; you'll need to seek them out.