In September, Ontario model Catt Gallinger made headlines after an eyeball tattoo went wrong. The tattoo was a process called sclera staining. In short, it is the injection of ink into the whites of the eyeball.
The tattoo ended up leaking out of her eye. It has caused her excruciating pain and partial blindness in one eye. This incident has lead to a lot of people questioning whether or not tattoos are safe.
Are Tattoos Safe?
The short answer is that tattoos can be safe. However, they are not inherently safe. Tattoo safety relies on a number of factors. Being smart about choosing your tattoo artist and tattoo shop makes all the difference from a safety standpoint.
Catt credited the issue with her tattoo as being due to her tattoo artist not having the required qualifications and training. She warns others to do better research before getting a tattoo.
Being smart about getting a tattoo means being safe. This article is a guide to identifying best tattoo safety practices and how to spot them.
Identifying Best Tattoo Safety Practices
Following the best practices for tattoo safety isn’t just important for your health, it keeps your tattoo looking better longer. Finding the best tattoo shop in Toronto & Vancouver means getting the best safety practices without compromising design.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you should be on the lookout for when you research tattoo shops near you.
A Safe & Sanitary Environment for Tattoos
The best tattoo shop for getting inked safely is one that cares about sanitation. Going to the tattoo parlour itself is the best approach. There are a few things that you can be on the lookout for:
- Is the front area clean? This is one area where you can judge a book by its cover. If the tattoo parlour cares about cleanliness, that care transfers over to the front area.
- Do the workstations have gloves and paper towel? The tattoo artists should wear gloves anytime they are making contact.
- Are there sharps disposals? These are safe bins marked for the disposal of sharp objects. This is where tattoo needles are disposed after each use. An absence of a sharps bin creates a concern over how needles are being disposed of and whether they are being reused.
- Ask to see sterilization records. Toronto & Vancouver tattoo shops are required to keep them on file and have to show them if requested. You are able to see autoclave logs and spore test records.
A safe and sterile environment is essential to safe tattooing. At Chronic Ink, we follow sanitary conditions and practices that exceed government requirement. This includes annual inspections by the health department. In addition to the environment, the equipment used is also essential.
Safe Tattoo Equipment & Handling
Both the quality of equipment and the safe handling of equipment are crucial to tattoo safety. It is important to find out if your Toronto & Vancouver tattoo shop supplies come from reputable manufacturers, and that they are used before their expiry dates.
One common concern is the quality of ink. In the USA, the FDA found that some inks contain print toner or car paint. There is no governing body for what goes into the ink. That is why it is so important to ensure your tattoo ink comes from a reputable source. These reputations are built on quality and safety. This is part of the reason do-it-yourself inks and tattoo kits are not recommended.
All equipment should be in sealed, sterile packages. Most tattoo equipment is made for one-time use. This includes:
- Anything that touches your skin directly.
All this equipment should be sealed and opened in front of the person being tattooed. This provides assurance that your tattoo shop is following safe practices.
Recognizing Safety Conscious Tattoo Artists
The best tattoo artists care about not only the quality of their designs but the health of their clients. While design quality can be recognized by browsing tattoo portfolios it can be harder to spot safety skills. But, if you know what to look for, you can learn to recognize a safety conscious tattoo artist.
One of the first things you can recognize upon sitting down with an artist is whether or not their station has been wrapped. A tattoo artist is supposed to wrap the station before sitting down with a client. This helps preserve a sterile environment and indicates adherence to safety practices.
Another visual cue is gloves. Any time your tattoo artist is going make contact with your skin or use a piece of equipment that will contact your skin, they should be wearing gloves. Gloves are the first line of defence against the transference of disease. They protect you and the artist alike.
Recognizing a safe tattoo artist also involves asking questions. For one, artists are supposed to perform bi-weekly sterilization tests. They should have a log on hand showing a record of these tests being passed. If you ask, they are required to show you.
Proper Tattoo Aftercare
If you commit to seeking out the best tattoo artists in Toronto & Vancouver for your tattoo, you should commit to taking care of it. A good tattoo aftercare plan starts with your tattoo artist, but the bulk of the responsibility falls to you.
When you get your ink, the artist will discuss a tattoo aftercare plan tailored to you, your tattoo, and your skin. Once you have left the studio, aftercare is in your hands. That being said you should notify your artist and your doctor if you experience any effects that have not been discussed or expected.
Although not all aftercare plans are the same, there are some similar elements to each plan. A few aftercare regulations to follow include:
- Avoid getting your tattoo wet until the bandages are removed. Then a careful reintroduction of water to the area over days or weeks.
- Avoid direct sunlight to the tattoo, especially while fresh. Use sunscreen as UV rays will fade the ink in your tattoo.
- Use recommended aftercare products. Your tattoo artist will recommend products and instruct you in their use.
- Avoid excessive drinking after a new tattoo. This can lead to serious infection.
- Minimize physical contact with the fresh tattoo. It’s tempting to scratch, but this could damage the tattoo.