Tattoos. To wear or beware?

Tattoos have been popular in the belly dance community for decades. It’s not uncommon to see oriental dancers with the lower back tat that either sits just above her hip belt or pokes alluringly out of areas otherwise hidden. In the tribal and fusion dance community, well it’s not so much a matter of “Do you have any ink?”, its more a case of ” How many tats do you have?”.

Rachel Brice

Rachel Brice

Rachel Brice Tattoo

While searching for the right pictures for this post I found this!! Have I got this right?? Is this a Rachel Brice Tattoo???

In Australia tattoos are enormously popular and extremely common particularly in those under 35. While in Bali last year it was possible to pick the Aussies out of a crowd not so much by the accents but the ink!

As dance artists we are drawn to expressions of art on our bodies. I think its a natural extension and I have no judgement on those covered in images or those that are ‘clean skins’ (the term used by the tattooed to refer to those not in the club ūüėČ )- however…

How safe is the ink?

Does anyone regulate it?

Apparently not.

“To date there have been no systemic studies to look at the safety of injecting such inks into the body”

Ouch!! So these dyes that are designed to stay in your body permanently are not properly tested or regulated. There have been some studies done however and the findings are not promising. The issue seems to revolve around nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are super small (like a human hair is about 80,000 nanometers wide) and are therefore more easily absorbed into the body.

  • Nanoparticles are widely found in tattoo inks, with some black pigments containing virtually 100-percent nanoparticles.
  • Tattooing with black inks entails an injection of substantial amounts of phenol and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) into skin. Most of these PAHs are carcinogenic and may additionally generate deleterious singlet oxygen inside the dermis when skin is exposed to UVA (e.g. solar radiation).‚Ä̬†

It’s not just black ink that has the nanoparticles, most colours do have substantial amounts, its just that black tends to have the most. These toxic types of nano particles can get into your bloodstream and organs but even more scary is that the potential for them to cause lesions in your brain.tattooed belly dancer

It’s not all bad news though, there is a study being conducted by the american National Center for Toxicological Research that will hopefully clear up the issue of toxicity and therefore encourage manufacturers to make the inks safer. ¬†In the mean time I would suggest that you wait a bit before getting any large or darkly coloured tattoos and see what the results of the study are. If it’s all good then you could have saved up more cash to get a bigger, or better one than you first envisaged. If the study shows problems then you may be pleased you waited.
This post was largely based on this article from please click here for more info

What do you think? Do you care if the ink is potentially toxic or is the art worth the risk? Please comment below.

Stop Revlon & L’Oreal using dangerous ingredients! Sign the petition.

Yep, in case you didn’t know, there is very little regulation of the ingredients you can put into cosmetics. The situation in Australia is that the¬†” TGA only assesses cosmetic products that make therapeutic claims”. This means make up companies can do pretty much as they please and its not until the consumers complain that change occurs. The situation in the US is similar “Right now, cosmetics companies can put just about anything in their products – even chemicals associated with cancer and endocrine disruption”.

Revlon and L’Oreal are both sticking to using old formulations for their make up that contain dangerous ingredients.

Click here to sign. You have until October 11 2013.

The petition that I am directing to you highlights why I have been advocating the use of safer and more natural cosmetics on this website. Dancers use more make up than the average consumer and are therefore at greater risk to exposure to dangerous ingredients. Belly dancers especially tend to use loads of eye make up and foundation. It is imperative that we tell the manufacturers that it is not ok to put carcinogenic substances in our make up.

Belly dance cosmetics

I was experimenting with different looks this day and had a whole heap of make up out that I don’t often wear – including Revlon eye shadow!! Argghh!

I have used both L’Oreal and Revlon in the past. As regular readers know, ¬†I have been working hard to find safe alternatives to old favourites – I still use a bit of Revlon eye shadow every now and then for example although I certainly will be phasing that out after reading this list of Revlon and L’Oreal ingredients ……

DMDM Hydantoin – strong evidence that it is an irritant to humans
Butylparaben -Human endocrine disruptor – strong evidence
Isopropylparaben –¬†Human skin toxicant or allergen & endocrine disruptor- strong evidence
Isobutylparaben –¬†Human skin toxicant or allergen & endocrine disruptor- strong evidence
Propylparaben  РHuman skin toxicant or allergen & endocrine disruptor- strong evidence

Other companies are more ethical and are updating their products or are already committed to predominantly natural ingredients. Don’t forget to check out my reviews of cosmetic and skin care products! Here¬†are a few you may like to read

Lavera natural cosmetic lipstick review 

Best stage eye shadow yet! Natural make up review.

Sometimes you just have to give a bad review! Natural cosmetic review of Butter London Nail polish remover.

Belly dancers beware – just because a make up artist or other dancer uses a product, it doesn’t mean it is safe. We all have busy lives and can’t possibly research every purchase. Many people are unaware of the poor regulation of the industry and assume that everything on the shelf is safe – sigh… if only that were true.

In issue 48 of Bellydance Oasis (my favourite magazine btw, I highly recommend it) it unfortunately has a dancer recommending the use of Revlon powder blush. Most versions of Revlon’s powder blush contain one or more of the toxic 5 above – yuk! ¬†The dancer then goes on to say she uses L’Oreal colour riche lip stick. I wasn’t able to find details on the specific shade she mentions but I checked other browns in the colour riche line and they have some of the most toxic ingredients I have seen in any product I have ever reviewed or researched. Ingredients that get the highest toxicity rating of 10 (for being carcinogenic). WOW!! Over the course of the average womans life she consumes large quantities of lip stick – often kilos of the stuff. It really does matter what you are applying to your skin and lips. You don’t need to poison yourself for the sake of beauty.

Please sign the petition so that eventually all products on the shelves are safe to use and we can pick freely without another thing to worry about.

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