If the tattoo studio does not look as clean as your doctor or dentist's office than walk right out of the door. Bad places to get tattooed are in someone's kitchen, a local bar, in the bleachers at a racetrack or at a county fair. This is because sterile conditions cannot be met in certain environments.
Watching the artist in action is also highly recommended, as everything that is used to apply the tattoo should be sterilized or disposable. For instance, the artist should not be dipping his needle into a large plastic jug of ink. The ink should be poured into a disposable container that is intended for use with just one customer.
You might also want to observe how the tattooist is applying ointments and Vaseline. The tattoo artist should always use steel or disposable wooden sterile spreader and not a finger to apply these substances to your skin.
The tattooist should also use disposable sterile latex gloves. If he or she is using bare fingers then you are vulnerable to infection and disease. New sterile needles should also be used for every tattoo.
All non-disposable equipment should be sterilized after each use with an autoclave. Ultra-sonic cleaning does not sterilize equipment. It should only be used as a method of cleaning the equipment before it's placed into the autoclave. Make sure you question the artist to make sure that he or she is in possession of an FDA regulating auto-clave. Dunking equipment in a tub of rubbing alcohol is not enough to sterilize tattooing equipment.
Many artists will use roll-on deodorant to create a darker impression of the transfer copy on your skin before they begin the tattoo. Although this is a very effective method of transferring a stock tattoo to the skin, keep in mind that the deodorant may have been used on another client's skin. The deodorant should be wiped onto a tissue, and then tissue the tissue should be used to place the deodorant on your skin.
You also might want to ask the artist if he or she is vaccinated for Hepatitis B. Never just take anyone's word for it. Do they have proof? Can they show you a doctor's record proving they were vaccinated? The hepatitis vaccination is a series of three shots given over a four-month period of time. It's not something that's going to just slip someone's mind. Getting a hepatitis shot is "an affair to remember."
Unfortunately, mandatory testing for hepatitis B is not required before an artist can pick up a needle. For ultimate safety, make sure that you are vaccinated before you receive a new tattoo.
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