Tattoo Laboratory

Find tattoo and permanent make-up products that comply with either ResAP(2008)1 or the new EU REACH Regulation.

CTL® GmbH Bielefeld has been testing tattoo and PMU colours for over 20 years. Since then, we have continued to develop our testing methods and work with our customers to ensure clean and safe colours. We have customers all over the world, from Europe to the USA, Australia and the Far East. Our expertise is valued and we are happy to share our experience.

Cover up! With CTL® tested Tattoo and PMU inks

With many years of experience, we test tattoo and Permanent Makeup inks. We stand by the manufacturers, distributors and tattoo artists worldwide to ensure that clean and safe colours can be used for your tattoo or PMU.

Everyone can see the results. We post colours that have passed our tests in our tattoo database. This is to enable everyone to check whether a colour has been tested by a globally recognised, independent testing institute with many years of experience, or not. We don’t want to decide which colour you take, we just want to give you the possibility to know which colours are safe.

The world is changing and so is the world of tattoos and PMUs. What was a niche 30 years ago has long been mainstream. Colours that were once common are now banned, There are a lot of new manufacturers and retailers. We have also changed with them.

In the beginning, we developed tests to identify harmful dyes. When a recommendation for safe tattoo inks was developed in the EU (ResAP), we were there. And now that tattoo and PMU dyes are regulated by law across the EU, we are again involved (REACH).

Our tests are evolving so that we can also check the requirements of the new EU regulation. What began simply is now an interplay of highly modern test methods on different measuring systems. Our tests include (briefly) the following tests:

  • Testing of manufacturer formulations

  • Testing for primary aromatic amines

  • Testing for carcinogens, mutagens or substances toxic to reproduction (classified according to Regulation 1272/2008 - CLP)

  • Testing for allergenic substances (classified according to Regulation 1272/2008 - CLP)

  • Testing for prohibited preservatives

  • Testing for heavy metal impurities

  • Testing for polyaromatic hydrocarbons

  • Testing for microbial safety (sterility)

The EU has already regulated many things and tattoo colours are now part of it. From the beginning of 2021, all tattoo and PMU inks will be regulated under REACH (Regulation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). This new regulation creates the world’s toughest and most stringent requirements for tattoo and PMU inks to ensure people’s safety. And what it does not regulate, we at CTL® GmbH simply add ourselves to ensure your safety. 

Particularly with regard to tattoo and PMU colours, the REACH regulation is sometimes strongly criticised. The criticism ranges from accusations of being too lax to accusations of being too strict. 

In our opinion, both are correct. On the one hand, substances are restricted that are useful and harmless (example: isopropanol), on the other hand, there are gaps in what is not regulated (example: microbiological contamination). 

Since 04.01.22, after a transitional period of one year, the new REACH regulation of tattoo and PMU inks applies. One year for the development of new colours, and an adaptation of all test methods was and is a challenge. Many colours had to be redeveloped to guarantee the performance of the colours without breaking REACH limits. Many test methods have been added or had to be modified to meet the new requirements. And in the end, it is not even clear what and how the authorities will actually test for.

It is therefore hardly credible to guarantee complete REACH conformity at the moment. But one can test. For known impurities or for substances that are commonly tested for in other products. The methods we use are usually derived from standardised procedures, even if they are not specifically designed for tattoo or PMU colours. This, in combination with our experience with tattoo colours, guarantees results with the highest reliability.

Contrary to the actual objective, there is no talk of standardisation of regulation in the EU. The new regulation imposes a very strict maximum level of impurities, but national legislations are allowed to apply ‘on top’ as well. Accordingly, the patchwork quilt has not disappeared, only changed.

If you would like to know more about REACH, the new regulation, testing tattoo or PMU colours, contact us. No text can do justice to the complexity of the matter, but a conversation can easily clarify specific questions. Even we don’t know everything, but what we do know, we are happy to share. We look forward to hearing from you.

The EU regulates tattoo inks - REACH

We test according to the strictest rules. We plug the gaps of REACH and demand complete compliance. The new regulation has also changed a lot for us. We have adapted our testing so that we can tell manufacturers, retailers and the people who want tattoos both whether colours are legal and whether they are safe.

REACH not only has its own strict list of restrictions, but also refers to Regulation 1223/2009 (Cosmetics) and Regulation 1272/2008 (CLP). It thus restricts a large number of substances with a wide range of different properties (from carcinogenic to skin irritant). Also restricted are heavy metals and the already known pollutant groups of primary aromatic amines and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

REACH replaces the non-binding Resolution ResAP(2008)1 and standardises regulation in the EU. What used to be a patchwork of different strict regulations (or in some cases none at all) is now unified throughout the EU and, above all, binding.


You can find tested colours on our database ( we tested them as compliant and safe. If a colour is not there, then ask the person who sold you the colours to provide you with a certificate or tests that prove his colours to be safe. If that is not possible better not buy them.

Important tip: keep you own documentation clean. As a tattooist you must not use forbidden inks. If you do not check your inks to be legal its your fault. However proper documentation should be enough, you do not need to test everything yourself.

No! Actually you will be regarded as an importer. That means you are solely and completely responsible for the inks you import. Its even more important to have all your documentation clean. Also, at least in Germany you are supposed to register your inks at the local ‚Überwachungsamt‘ if you buy / import them directly from outside the EU


Tattoo Laboratorium

Get in touch!

Representative for Tattoo and Permanent Makeup