Needles and dermopigmentation

Evolution of materials in the permanent makeup sector is a hot topic and as such it should be addressed!

Which metals are used to produce PMU needles?
Just as make-up artists choose their brushes with care… PMU professionals are responsible for choosing the most suitable needle for their work.
It’s interesting to learn how needles have developed.
It is widely acknowledged that the first needles were made from noble metals (gold, silver and especially platinum) because it was believed that infections were caused by the oxidation of non-noble metals.
Such expensive needles were used for a long time despite their cost.
Nowadays, we normally use stainless steel needles.

Are there any risks related to the use of needles in dermopigmentation?
Recent research carried out in 2019 pointed out for the first time that needles can trigger allergies in tattooing.
The research shows that they release nickel and chromium which, once in the skin, travel all the way to the lymph nodes.
Such discovery was made by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Esfr) in Grenoble and published in the journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology, following a discovery made by the same group and coordinated by Ines Schreiver of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bfr).
They concluded that the sterility of the tools and the quality of the pigments are not the only things involved in tattoo safety:
“It’s not just a matter of using sterile equipment or checking the inks used”, explains Hiram Castillo from Esfr, “We now know that needle wear also has an impact.”
Tattoo needles usually contain 6-8% nickel and 15-20% chromium, both of which are potential allergens.

Will new studies and new technologies make it safer to use needles in dermopigmentation?
While working on a different case study, researchers discovered that some types of needles (made of poor steels) release substances that can cause allergies.
Examining skin and lymph node samples taken from tattooed people (employing the most powerful among the microscopes, i.e. synchrotron light) they found that they contained iron, chromium and nickel particles whose dimensions varied from 50 billionths of a metre to 2 thousandths of a millimetre.

This opened the way to the use of stainless-steel needles for PMU… provided that they comply with strict quality standards.
“Stainless” is the term used to identify the family of steels with a minimum 11% chromium content (a key element that provides the material with high corrosion resistance).
There are two main types of stainless steel: AISI 304 stainless steel (in which nickel and chrome are added) and 316 stainless steel (in which molybdenum is also added to provide additional corrosion resistance).

What’s the difference between AISI 316 and AISI 304 steel?
The main difference between the two is that AISI 316 contains molybdenum, unlike 304.
Laboratory manuals report that molybdenum, compared to other heavy metals, has a relatively low toxicity. Cases of acute molybdenum toxicity in humans are rarely observed because the required dose should be exceptionally high.
Stainless steel has specific characteristics which ensure hygiene:
Corrosion resistance, which prevents the material from being affected by to substances with which its elements come into contact.
-It does not need protective coatings which will eventually wear and lead to cracks, fissures or indentations where germs and bacteria develop.
Compact surfaces without roughness, which ensures impermeability to external substances.
High bacterial removability
Low bacterial retention

So, is it possible to reduce the risk of incompatibility for PMU needles?
As explained above, using stainless steel PMU needles reduces the risk of incompatibility almost to zero provided that only certified products are used, that the traceability of raw materials is guaranteed and that surfaces are completely sterile.
We strongly suggest making sure that the products are properly imported and that their hygiene and integrity are guaranteed.
This, together with all the other measures, ensures the excellence and safety of our work!

Esher Sasso

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