Kid’s henna tattoo runs amok

From comes this story of yet another body art mishap, this time on a five-year-old boy who sat for a temporary henna tattoo while on vacation with his parents in Indonesia.

Cannon Cribb got more than he bargained for when after the henna wore off, he was left with a large welt in the shape of the Oriental dragon tattoo. The scar happened because the “henna” contained a chemical called para-phenylenediamine (PPD), normally used in hair or textile dyes. DuPont, one of the makers of PPD, specifically warns against using PPD directly on the skin as quoted below:

DuPont does not recommend and will not knowingly offer or sell p-phenylenediamine (PPD) for uses involving prolonged skin contact. Such uses may involve, but are not limited to, products formulated with henna for tattoo applications or other skin coloration effects. This use of PPD in prolonged skin contact application has the potential to induce allergic skin reactions in sensitive individuals.

If there is a lesson to be learned, it is this, and this applies equally to anyone doing any type of face/body art: never use chemicals directly on the skin which are not intended to be used in that fashion.

I wish Cannon a full and speedy recovery, and sincerely hope someone out there will learn from his misfortune.

A really messy tattoo mistake

Several sources (including WMAR-TV,, and Het Nieuwsblad (article in Dutch)) report on a tattoo session where the customer, Kimberley Vlaeminck, an 18 year-old girl from Belgium, quite literally got more than she bargained for.

According to Kimberley, she wanted three (possibly four) little stars on her face, but wound up with a mind-numbing total of 56 when she fell asleep during the session. Not surprisingly, she is a little shy about showing her face in public. Kimberley is suing the Romanian tattoo artist, who she claims did not understand her correctly, for what appears to be €11,000 or so (the Euro equivalent of US$15,000).

The artist, Rouslain Toumaniantz, paints quite a different picture of what happened, stating that Kimberley was not only awake but saw herself in the mirror several times during the procedure. Rouslain has offered Kimberley a discount down to €50 (the cost of the four stars she originally wanted) but flatly refuses to pay for the removal surgery.

I don’t really know who to believe here. However, I do have four observations:

  1. I remain committed to never getting a tattoo;
  2. I advise my readers who insist upon getting tattooed:
    1. make sure there are no communication problems (ideally, the artist speaks the same language, fluently, and if not, have a trustworthy interpeter along), and
    2. make damn sure you stay awake through the whole thing;
  3. Some tattoo artists look scary as hell to me, even without a tattoo gun in hand;
  4. Finally, I will admit, the design would looks great as a facepainting, but not as a permanent tattoo.

Hopefully the lawsuit will receive an equal amount of press coverage. I plan to follow up on this one.