It would be an understatement to say that REACh regulations have shaken up the permanent makeup industry. Never before has a single year brought so much change for PMU pigment manufacturers and PMU artists. But what exactly are these regulations and why have they created issues with the available supply of PMU pigments? Trying to understand the answers from the ECHA website can be confusing, so let us help break it down for you.
What Is REACH?
REACH stands for “ Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemical Substances .” In other words, REACH is the set of rules and regulations set in place by the EU to protect the environment and people from chemicals that they deem to be hazardous. These regulations are not just for the PMU industry. They also apply to common chemicals used in both everyday applications like home cleaning products and paints and industrial processes like the manufacturing of cosmetics and even clothing.
Though REACH regulations have existed since 2007 for many industries, 2022 is the first year that the PMU industry has been hit with REACH bans on ingredients commonly used to make permanent cosmetic and paramedical pigments. REACH regulations put the burden of proving products are compliant on European PMU pigment manufacturers and importers. It falls on companies like Quantum to ensure they are only using approved pigments and substances in their products, document all the information about the ingredients used, and register each individual color or formula with the ECHA.
What Is the ECHA?
The ECHA or European Chemicals Agency is the agency tasked with determining which chemicals, like pigments for PMU, are safe and also with ensuring compliance with EU REACH regulations.
What PMU Pigments Ingredients Have Been Banned So Far?
In January 2022, EU REACH regulations banned 25 pigments commonly used for tattoo ink and PMU colors. This initial ban includes pigments that are yellow, red, and orange. While scalp micro pigments and eyeliner pigments that are mainly black were not affected, there was a major impact on PMU colors that use yellow, red, or orange as an undertone like browns.
The largest impact by far was on permanent lip pigments because they usually contain at least some red. Many color correctors also included colors affected by the regulations.
Will REACH Regulations Result in Any Additional Colors Being Banned?
The regulations that went into effect earlier this year are only part of the proposed pigment bans. Starting January 2023, a new ban that prohibits the use of Blue 15:3 and Green 7 will go into effect. While we don’t usually see green or blue eyebrows or lips, this new ban could have an impact on color correctors relying on blue or green tones to neutralize other colors. It may also impact lip colors with blue undertones.
How Are REACH Regulations Impacting the Global PMU Industry?
If you are a permanent makeup artist outside of Europe, chances are that these regulations do not have a huge impact on your day-to-day operations unless you routinely purchase PMU colors from a European manufacturer. For example, in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers PMU pigments a cosmetic. In many countries, like in the US, it falls to the consumer to report a problem instead of requiring the manufacturer to register their ingredients.
For European PMU artists, it is a much different story. The steps required to reformulate a product, test it, produce it, label it according to the new REACH standards, and distribute takes a great deal of time and money. Consequently, some manufacturers have opted to cut their losses and stop selling their PMU products in Europe. For others, this process has caused delays in production and stock issues with EU REACH Compliant products.
What Is Quantum PMU Colors Doing To Comply With REACH Regulations?
Because the ECHA gave manufacturers a year to prepare for the ban on the 25 initial pigments, Quantum was able to start getting approvals for the Quantum Platinum Label EU REACH Compliant line of PMU pigments earlier this year.
We also began reformulating many of our PMU pigments and creating new permanent lip colors and permanent eyebrow and eyeliner colors using EU REACH Compliant pigments.
While these Platinum Label products were created for the needs of PMU artists facing EU REACH restrictions, they are also available on our website for permanent makeup artists in the US.
As of the publishing of this article in September 2022, any items listed in the Platinum Label section of our website, including all of the color correctors, eyebrow & eyeliner pigments,scalp micro pigments, and lip pigments, are EU REACH Compliant. We are currently working on new color formulas using approved alternatives to Green 7 and Blue 15:3. Our goal is to be ready to provide permanent makeup artists in Europe with the richest palette of PMU pigments possible under the additional REACH regulations when they come into effect in January 2023.
These REACH regulations provide some of the most stringent standards for PMU pigments that Europe, or the world, has ever known. Complying with them has required us to double down on our mission to bring artists around the world a safe and high-quality product that provides excellent results for their clients. Whether you are in the EU or anywhere else in the world, this commitment means that when you purchase Quantum PMU Colors, you are purchasing some of the safest PMU products in the world.