How to Ensure the Safety of Artist and Client

How to Ensure the Safety of Artist and Client

Because getting a tattoo opens the skin, all permanent tattooing procedures can have the potential of exposure to dangerous bacteria and viruses.  Cross contamination from one client to another or from instruments or surfaces with contaminates can all pose danger. That being said, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) clearly defines steps to ensure safety of both artist and client.   When choosing a shop or artist, it is important to protect yourself, by observing these precautions in action. The procedures to protect both artists and clients include precautions before, during, and after the tattooing process.

BEFORE the artist invites the client into the tattooing space, set-up should take place:

  • Artist should wash hands using soap, warm water and friction and properly put on a new pair of gloves.
  • Wearing gloves, disinfect ALL surfaces where services are preformed with a high-level disinfectant solution. The solution should sit on the surfaces the recommended amount of time. These should include tray and cabinet tops, tables, chairs, arm and headrests, and trash can.  These should then be covered with new, disposable surface covering.
  • Tray should be covered in new, non-penetrable surface (plastic) and all instruments must also be removed from sterile packaging. Needles must be new, disposable sharps.  Bottles, clip cords and machines should be bagged.
  • Ink bottles tip’s should ever touch cups or tray.
  • Artist should rewash hands in preparation for putting on new gloves

DURING the tattooing process, the artist should:

  • Sterilize skin area to be tattooed. If shaving, use a new, disposable razor. If freehand drawing with marker, dispose of marker after use.  (MRSA can be transferred skin-to-skin or unbroken skin to instrument.)
  • Use a clean, disposable towel to apply disinfectant, stencil transfer, glide, wipe, and soap to the skin.
  • Do not “dip” from a container. Use a sterile instrument, or better yet, a spray onto a clean, disposable towel or wipe. Do not touch tip of bottle or spray nosel to any surface.
  • If artist leaves tattooing area, washing and new gloves are a must. This reduces chances of contamination from a dirty phone, bathroom, drinking cup, or any other surface that the artist may have touched.
  • As the artist finishes your tattoo, he/she will apply a moisturizer and a protective barrier. The moisturizer should be sprayed from a sealed bottle without touching your skin or tattoo.  INK OIL is protected in a glass spray bottle that is not open to air, fingers or any other type of contaminant.  If the bottle is protected against cross contamination by wearing a clean glove, it can be safely used on multiple clients to help sooth, calm redness, and speed healing.
  • Lastly all disposable products such as paper towels, shields, and wipes (anything with bodily fluids) should be disposed of immediately after use in a lined container throughout the tattooing process.


AFTER you leave shop, it’s up to YOU!

  • Once you exit the shop, leave Saniderm or protective covering on following artist’s instructions. If at any time, the seal on the protective barrier is broken, remove immediately and go to step 2.
  • Wash hands before removing protective barrier. Remove carefully to avoid damaging skin.
  • Wash tattooed area with a mild soap and running water in a clean area (shower or sink). We recommend using INK SOAP, an all-natural castile soap infused with essential oils to reduce incidence of infection and to sooth and speed healing.  Allow to air dry or pat dry with clean, soft towel.
  • Apply a moisturizer with a spray applicator that doesn’t require touching the tattoo. A high quality moisturizer should hydrate the skin without smothering it; skin needs to breath during the healing process.  We suggest INK OIL with a spray top that never touches the open skin.  The healing oils are sealed in a glass container that protects them from cross contamination by dirty fingers or any other surfaces that could potentially contain pathogens.  Jars, tubs, or tubes of aftercare that use hands for application, all run risk of cross contamination and should not be used on a new tattoo. The INK OIL sprayer does not allow for cross contamination, so  it reduces the chances of cross contamination, and one bottle of INK OIL can be used on multiple people or multiple tattoos, without fear of
  • Using INK OIL will reduce scabbing and itching, but if your tattoo itches, do NOT pick at scabs or scratch tattooed area. Apply INK OIL whenever itching occurs; lavender oils sooth skin and reduces itch so that new tattoo can heal.

Granted, this may seem like a lot to do to protect against cross-contamination, but consider the alternatives of hepatitis, HIV, MRSA or just a troublesome infection.   Following recommended precautions and using INK OIL products that protect your new tattoo will result in a lifetime of enjoying your body art.  Better safe and clean than sorry.


  • Center for Disease Control
  • Oregon Public Health Division
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