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13 Tattoo Safety Tips To Keep In Mind When Getting A Tattoo

These safety tattoo tips are things you as a customer should no budge on. Being tattooed comes with several serious risks including many life-threatening diseases. These risks are greatly minimized by a tattoo artist taking proper safety precautions. If you have an artist that is not being as safe as they can, then turn tail and run out of the shop!

1. Research The Artist’s Portfolio

Preferably you want to go to a tattoo artist that you have seen their work already; either on a friend or family member. Either way, when choosing an artist you need to ask to see their tattoo portfolio first. This will help you not only see the amount of experience that the artist has, but also see the quality of their work. After all, a tattoo is permanent!

2. Make Sure The Shop and Artists are Licensed

Not every county requires their tattoo artists or shops to carry a tattoo license. If your county does not, then it’s best to drive to one that does. Shops that are licensed are subject to random safety audits by the local board of health.

3. Your Tattoo Artist Should Be Blood-borne Pathogen Certified

Tattooing deals with direct contact to blood, and as such tattoo artists are required by OSHA to be blood-borne pathogen certified. This training teaches how to prevent cross-contamination when dealing with bodily fluid, and how to prevent the spread of diseases.

4. Don’t Drink Before a Tattoo

Do not drink before getting a tattoo. Especially do not decide to get a tattoo while drinking! This not only could leave you with a tattoo you don’t want, but it will also take away your focus. Making you not keep an eye out for proper tattoo safety!

5. Don’t Get Tattoos on Your Couch

I think this goes without saying for anyone that is reading about tattoo safety tips, but do not get a tattoo on a couch at some guy’s house! Even if the artist is incredibly talented and does beautiful work, there is just too many health risks by not receiving your tattoo in a clean environment from an artist with proper training. And trust me, any artist with proper training, that actually cares, will not be tattooing on a couch, ​they’ll use a professional artists chair for the job.

6. Clean Studio

When you first arrive at a tattoo studio keep an eye out for the cleanliness of the studio. Any tattoo studio concerned about tattoo safety is going to run a very tight ship. If you see trash lying around or dirty counters you should immediately walk out the door, and also look for red biohazard trash cans to make sure they are disposing of contaminated trash properly.

7. Make Sure The Artist is Wearing Clean Gloves

Before a tattoo artist begins handling any of the equipment, you want to make sure that they wash their hands and are wearing a new set of clean disposable tattoo gloves. Really pay attention to their hygiene in general.

8. Brand New, Single Use Equipment

The tattoo artist should use pre-packaged, disposable, equipment, and they should be opened in front of you! This includes any needles, the tip of the tattoo machine, and preferably the grip of the tattoo machine as well. If they are not using disposable equipment, ask to see their autoclave log book and show specifically when the pieces that they are using now were cleaned, and show you the spore test proving the autoclave was in working order when the equipment was cleaned in the autoclave.

9. Ask About The Ink They Will Be Using

Ask about the tattoo ink they will be using beforehand and see if there have been any recalls. A lot of inks are made with some pretty nasty stuff and aren’t regulated by the FDA at all. So it’s good to research the inks an artist uses beforehand, and if they are using cheap or nasty ink they are not a tattoo artist you should be getting tattooed by.

10. There Should Be No Carpet In The Studio

When you enter a tattoo studio make sure there is no carpet or porous flooring whatsoever! Carpet and other porous floors trap bodily fluid in them and are not easily cleaned. This is a huge health risk that should not be overlooked.

11. Bag all of their equipment

You want to make sure your tattoo artist is taking every precaution necessary to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases; this included bagging their equipment. The purpose of bagging equipment is to prevent bodily fluid from coming in contact with it while tattooing. Certain parts of the tattoo equipment can be cleaned 100% by the autoclave, but things like power supplies and cords can not, and so they should have some sort of barrier protection.

12. The Artist Should Make You Feel Comfortable

There are plenty of tattoo artists out there; good ones too. There is no reason to not be treated with respect throughout the entire tattoo process. If the artist doesn’t want to prove to you that they are taking safety seriously, you do not have to settle for them. You want an artist that will walk you through the whole process and happily explain any question you may have.

13. Tattoo Aftercare

The tattoo artist should thoroughly explain the aftercare process to you, and what you should expect. You don’t need to buy the expensive tattoo specific healing cream from their shop, though. Inexpensive A+D Ointment and Lubriderm work great. Here is a tattoo aftercare guide that can help you be prepared for the process of keeping your tattoo free of infections.

It’s Your Right To Be Tattooed Safely

Getting a tattoo has grown to become commonplace; nearly 1 in 5 people are tattooed today! Just because they are so common, though, doesn’t mean that they don’t come without safety risks. A good tattoo artist should be following all of these tattoo safety tips to a T. And if they are you should feel comfortable knowing that you are in good hands.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!