Thinking about having a tattoo?
Things to consider when having a tattoo
- Select a reputable artist and one that is registered with the local authority. It is a legal requirement for the registration certificate to be displayed somewhere that you can easily see it. The tattooist(s) who are registered at the premises will be listed on the certificate. These premises will have been inspected and should comply with the following
- If you have any concerns about a tattooist or the premises they are working from, contact us Online using the: Contact the Environmental Health Team form.
- Never visit an unregistered premise or artist as you cannot guarantee the correct hygiene procedures are in place or that the artist is properly trained. You may well end up with an infection and/or a poor quality tattoo.
- It is illegal to tattoo someone under the age of 18 – so if you are under 18, don't ask.
- Never tattoo yourself or ask a friend to do it – you are likely to be at risk of infection and loss of a friendship!
- A tattoo that cost £50 to apply could cost over £1000 to remove, so think carefully before you decide to have a tattoo. Consider how you might feel about your tattoo in 10 or 20 years.
- Select the tattooist with care. Have they been recommended by someone you know and trust?
- The quality of the tattoo will depend on the artist who applies it, and once it is done you are stuck with it. Ask to see samples (live or photos) of their work. Pay attention if they offer only one or two photos, or if the quality jumps from good to poor (some artists will put other artists' work in their photo album and forget to tell you it's not all theirs). Look out for breaks in the lines, shaky lines, lines that do not meet or lines that overrun each other, gaps in colour or shading. Does the tattoo look like art, and something you would like to have for the rest of your life? You should also check that the artist style of the tattooist matches the style of artwork you are looking for.
- Ensure that the artist uses sterile needles. You can expect to see the needle removed from the packaging in front of you. A good tattooist will be happy to demonstrate that they are following correct procedures and answer any questions you may have. If they are not, then go elsewhere.
- Do not get a tattoo if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- You are not allowed to donate blood for 4 months after having a tattoo.
If you are thinking about having a tattoo, have a look at this short video 'Before you ink think'
What are the risks involved with having a tattoo?
- Localised swelling and bleeding.
- There is a risk of infection, including blood borne viral infections such as HIV and hepatitis, if the correct hygiene procedures are not followed.
- Localised infections – usually caused by bacteria on the skin – good aftercare can prevent infection, or improve recovery.
- Septicaemia – a serious systemic infection (i.e. affecting the whole body). It may be life threatening and requires immediate treatment with antibiotics.
How should I look after my tattoo?
The standard of cleanliness at the premises I went to was very poor, who do I complain to?
You should contact the local authority where the premises are based. If this is Dartford Borough Council, then contact us via our Online form or call 01322 343434.
My 17 year old son / daughter has come home with a tattoo; I thought this was illegal, what can I do?
Under the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969, it is an offence to tattoo any person under the age of 18 years, regardless of parental consent, unless it is performed for medical reasons by a qualified medical practitioner or a person working under their direction.
The Police and Local Authority can both enforce this piece of legislation so complaints can be directed to either organisation.
I've recently had a tattoo and I'm unhappy about the quality of the artwork, what can you do?
The byelaws and Code of Practice only relate to hygiene issues. We are unable to deal with or comment on the quality of the artwork. We would advise you not to rush into having a tattoo, and to do your research first. Take time to think about the design you would like, and find a tattooist who is recommended and whose artwork you have seen.