After losing a loved one, some people keep a photograph on hand at all times. Others keep a handwritten note. And others get that loved one's ashes tattooed on their arm. The process, which is often called "morbid ink," involves getting inked with a mixture of tattoo ink and cremated remains. The practice is not new, but it has been gaining popularity in recent years. It's mainly done underground, as there are unseen health risks cited by many professional tattoo parlors and public officials. As the Canadian government public health organization, Health Canada, said in a statement to the National Post: "As a result of the composition of the ashes being unknown and the potential for adverse reactions, Health Canada does not recommend this type of tattooing practice." (The FDA told Vice it hasn't yet evaluated the risks.) But some biotech companies see this as a burgeoning industry and are looking to capitalize—and they aren't stopping at ashes, but also adding carbonized hair and even DNA into the ink. "Everyone has a parent, child, lover or friend that they want to be connected to in a physical and emotional way," Swiss inventor Andreas Wampl, whose company created tattoo ink made with carbon extracted from human hair, told Vice "I've talked to a lot of people who don't even have regular tattoos but love the idea of a 'connective' one. I think it's a huge market."
Memorial tattoos, or tattoos that honor a deceased loved one, are one way of keeping the dead with you forever. Some people (and some biotech startups) are taking these tattoos a step further, incorporating their loved one's ashes—or even their hair—into the tattoo ink.
Keeping Your Loved Ones Close
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The commemorative tattoo trend is growing.
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