There are no laws governing tattoo inks or tattooing services specifically, but there are provisions that apply to them in several different laws. Provisions that apply to tattoo inks and tattooing services can be found in chemicals legislation, the Health Protection Act and the Consumer Safety Act.
The inks used in tattooing and the ingredients used in such inks are currently governed by EU chemicals regulations (REACH and CLP). Chemicals manufacturers and importers have an obligation to identify the dangerous properties of any chemicals that they bring to market. Chemicals that are deemed to be dangerous must carry a warning label, which shows the relevant warning symbol and other necessary information in Finnish and Swedish. However, certain small packages (max. 125 ml) are exempted in so far as risk and safety statements do not always need to be included in their labels. Safety data sheets must also be provided to recipients of any dangerous tattoo inks, and Tukes must be notified of the chemicals involved.
The marketing and use of certain chemicals can be restricted on the basis of chemicals legislation, or a special permit may be required for their use. Some of the chemicals used in tattoo inks are also included in the European Chemicals Agency’s list of substances of concern, such as o-toluidine, 2-methoxyaniline and o-anisidine. However, chemicals legislation contains no provisions on assessing the health risks of these substances when they are used in tattoo inks. There is therefore very little scientific information available on the health risks of these chemicals in tattoos.
Tukes supervises the use of tattoo inks on the basis of chemicals legislation and tattooing services as consumer services under the Consumer Safety Act. Finnish Customs supervises the import of tattoo inks.
Service providers’ duty of care
Section 5 of the Consumer Safety Act also lays down a general duty of care for providers of tattooing services. According to the provision, service providers must ensure, considering the level of diligence and professional know-how required by the circumstances, that their services do not pose a risk to anyone’s safety or property. Providers of tattooing services also have an obligation to provide consumers with all relevant safety information, in a clear and understandable manner, prior to performing their services and to ensure that the consumer has understood the information. Any information that is relevant afterwards, such as after-care instructions, should ideally be given to consumers in writing. Responsibility for the safety of consumer services always lies with the service provider.
All providers of tattooing services must have a safety document that lays down a procedure for identifying and managing the risks associated with the service and for communicating information about them. More information about the obligations of service providers under the Consumer Safety Act can be found here.
The Consumer Ombudsman issued a statement in 2003, according to which an agreement on a tattoo cannot be considered the kind of legal document that a minor can sign without their guardian’s consent. Service providers who tattoo a minor without the guardian’s consent can be ordered to pay for the cost of removing the tattoo.