Woman with tattoos on her shoulder

Before you get a tattoo there are some things you should check to make sure that the tattooist is following safe practice. 

Premises licence

The premises licence should be prominently displayed at the tattoo studio; if not, walk away.

Age identification

It is a legal offence to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 years old under ‘The Tattooing of Minors Act (1969). Has the tattooist asked for any ID to prove your age? 

Tattoo pre-consultation and health questionnaire

The tattooist should explain to you the whole procedure and ask if you have any underlying health conditions such as diabetes, haemophilia, heart disease or skin conditions. Relevant allergies should also be discussed - for example, a latex allergy. If you have a history of medical conditions like this, then you should consult your GP for advice before going ahead.

Record keeping

Tattooists should also be keeping records of what treatment you are receiving along with your basic contact details.

Sterile needles

Sterile needles need to be used for every tattoo. Any needles that the tattooist uses should be single use and opened from a sterile pack in front of you. Once the needles have been used, the tattooist should place them into a yellow sharps box nearby. If your skin was shaved beforehand, then razors should be disposed of in the yellow sharps box straight after use. 

Tattoo ink

Tattooists should decant inks for your tattoo into clean, disposable cups which should be thrown away after use and not reused for another customer. If you have a specific allergy then discuss this with your tattooist and check the ink ingredients before proceeding.

Hand washing

Tattooists must wash their hands and put on a fresh pair of gloves before they start work or after they touch anything other than their sterile equipment or you. They should also have a dedicated wash hand basin in the treatment room for their sole use.

Aftercare

You must be given adequate aftercare advice for the safe healing of your tattoo.

The tattooist should give you either basic verbal or written aftercare advice so that you are aware of healing times and how to keep the site clean and reduce the risk of infection.

If you are not happy with your tattoo then you should speak to the tattooist in the first instance who may refer you to your GP if there are signs of infection or adverse reaction.

If you want to report any issues of cleanliness or hygiene of either the tattooist or premises, unsafe practice or an unregistered tattooist ('scratcher'), then please complete our online form.