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Are Temporary Tattoos Safe?

Temporary decal-type tattoos or more elaborate henna designs are popular with children and adults alike, but the FDA warns that they are not without risk. There are two types of “decal” tattoos: one transfers the dyes directly onto the skin and the other uses an adhesive backing that creates a partial or complete barrier between the skin and the dyes used in the image. The FDA notes that the difference is important, because not all dyes are known to be safe for use on the skin. Consumers should also be aware that while adhesive backing may protect against unapproved dye, there may also be ingredients on or in the decal that may cause a skin reaction.

Henna (sometimes called Mehndi, and “Black Henna”) uses a dye that is not currently approved for direct application to the skin. Henna, a coloring made from a plant, is approved only for use as a hair dye. Hair dyes typically have a caution statement and instructions to do a “patch test” on a small area of the skin before using them because they are known to cause reactions in some people. FDA has received reports of injuries to the skin from products marketed as henna and products marketed as “black henna.”

Cosmetics that are sold at retail stores must declare all ingredients. The same requirement is not in effect for cosmetic samples and products used only by professionals–for example, for application at a salon, or a booth at a fair or boardwalk. Since these tattoo ingredients are not officially part of a cosmetic, they are not included under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  The FDA has issued import alerts for some foreign-import temporary tattoos and for henna that is intended to be applied to skin. This is meant to help determine which products might be causing reactions and need to be monitored. The FDA asks consumers to and health care providers to report problems with cosmetics to FDA in either of these two places:


Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Posted: May 30, 2016

Source: FDA

[Image: Pixabay / Sabasingh]

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