Cleanliness is the most important element in getting a tattoo. If the tattoo artist does not practice all the sanitary guidelines, you may end up with an infection or a serious illness. Some people have even gotten Hepatitis C and HIV from getting a tattoo from a place that used dirty needles and ink pots. Before you allow your tattoo artist to begin inking you up, make sure they use new needles and new ink pots. Artists double-dip in the ink pots, so it is very important to make sure they open brand new ink pots right there in front of you. If they don’t, ask them to open a new one. The same thing with the needles. If you don’t see the artist take a needle out of its wrapper, make sure you ask him or her to get a new one. Do not be afraid to speak up. You do not want to end up with an infection or worse just because you didn’t want to annoy or upset the tattoo artist. Your health and safety is far more important than anyone’s pride.
Hand Washing and Gloves
Make sure your tattoo artist washes his or her hands and puts on gloves before beginning. If there is not a sink in the tattoo room, you may not know for sure if the artist has washed his or her hands. In this case, there should be hand sanitizer in the room for them to use. You can even bring your own and ask them to use it. Before a tattoo artist even touches your skin, they should be wearing their gloves. If they are not, ask them to go get some. The parlor should have an abundance of gloves in every room, so these should be easy to obtain. If not, do not get a tattoo there. This is a serious red flag and you should go elsewhere for your tattoo.
Your tattoo artist should prepare your skin for the tattoo by washing your skin with warm soapy water. If the area that will be getting tattooed is hairy, the tattoo artist will also shave all the hair off and wash the skin again after all the hair is removed. Rubbing alcohol will then be applied to ensure that your skin is completely clean before beginning the tattoo. If your artist does not do any of this, do not let them touch you with the needle. Tell them your skin needs cleaned and shaved before they can start giving you a tattoo. A tattoo artist forgetting this step is very rare, but you want to make sure you know all the steps required in cleanliness in order to prepare yourself.
During the entire process of getting your tattoo done, you or your friend should make sure that every precaution is taken by your artist in order to keep everything clean. When the artist runs out of ink, make sure a brand new ink pot is used and no cross contamination has happened in the process. Make sure the table has been wiped down with all materials needed set on top. This way, the artist will not have to reach into a dirty drawer or go into another room to get more ink or needles. Most tattoo artists are very cautious about cross contamination and follow all the steps for cleanliness, but you want to pay very close attention just in case.
After the tattoo is complete, your tattoo artist will then need to wipe around your tattoo with a clean towel to remove any excess blood before applying a bandage. Some artists will use a large bandage, while others may use cling-wrap. Both materials are just fine. You just want to make sure you do not leave the tattoo parlor without having it properly covered. You should keep the bandage or cling-wrap on the tattoo overnight and take it off first thing in the morning. For bandages, you will need to soak it in water before removing. If you pull the bandage off, it can be pretty painful and cause more bleeding. For the cling-wrap, you can simply take it off. It will not be stuck to your skin and is easily removed. Proper covering of the tattoo is essential when you leave the parlor because it will decrease the risk of an infection.