Body branding: An extreme technique that goes beyond tattooing

Pete Davidson’s case


Body branding or body modification is an ancient practice of engraving on the skin that has been used throughout history by different cultures.

Through scarifications (scars) or burns, drawings are made on the skin as tattoos.

Nowadays it is seen as an extreme tattooing technique that is becoming a trend because of cases like this one...

American comedian Pete Davidson.

Pete Davidson is an American comedian, writer, actor, and producer popular for his participation in the late-night show Saturday Night Live.

He is known for showing his love to his partners with designs on his skin. He did it with Ariana Grande in the past and now with Kim Kardashian he’s going nuts!

He got a scarification with her name. Crazy, right?

Of course, this didn’t take too long to go viral and controversial. In fact, he shared it on his social media to mock Kanye West (Kim's ex) after his harassment case. His tagline was “in bed with your wife”.

But there’s more gossip. His "KIM" scarification on his right shoulder clearly stood out among the rest of his tattoos.

Kim seemed fascinated, in her words: "I didn't want him to remove it or cover it up, I wanted it to be like a scar on his body."

Pete Davidson with his brand new body branding.

The impact of this piece of news made tattoo artist and body shaper Caitlin Cartwright speak out on the issue.

The main concern about Body Branding is that it’s becoming more and more popular thanks to new tools, but little is said about the dangers of infection and the utmost importance of putting it in experienced hands.

Today, the influence of the media and public figures often have a great influence on people's decisions, which is worrying because the potential risks are unknown.

Then, what is Body Branding? How did this practice come about? How is it done? And what are the implications? Can it be considered a branch of tattooing?

10 Masters to the rescue! We’ll answer all your questions as usual! ;).

What is Body Modifications and what does it consist of?

Professional working with the body branding technique to draw on the skin.

Fresh body branding applied on the chest of a boy with a geometric drawing representing a bird.

It is about marking the skin with different objects with very low or very high temperatures. The design is scarred with a third degree burn that destroys the nerves in the area. But the result can only be seen over time, once the wound heals.

It is a radical and painful technique that not everyone can bear, really. You can practise it in different ways.


Strips of boiling stainless steel placed on the skin. It is the most common technique, Peter Davison chose this technique.


Here the tissue is destroyed with the heat of the electric current at 2000°F, through the tip of an electrode.


In this case, lit incense is used.

Laser Branding:

It is done with a laser that prints the design on the skin. This is the most precise technique and is recommended for more detailed designs.

Freeze Branding:

Quite the opposite, instead of marking with heat, the skin is scared with extremely cold liquid nitrogen. This is the most uncommon procedure, but it has the advantage that it does not cause keloid scars.

Where does Body Branding come from?

This practice is not new. In fact, it has existed for centuries. And it had numerous purposes, in different times and cultures.

Some of them are:

  • In the Middle Ages, slaves were scared so that they would not forget that they belonged to someone. The Romans did the same to punish and humiliate whoever tried to escape, they scared the acronym FVG.
  • In other indigenous societies, they used it to mark an initiation rite or participation in the tribe.
  • In religion, devotees used it in a meditative way, because the pain raised them to a high state of consciousness.
  • In many sects, it was practised as a symbol of belonging.
  • Criminals were also scared.
  • Also, narcos marked anyone who rebelled against the cartel.

Today, some cultures still practise it for these reasons. But most people do it for aesthetics and personal reasons only.

What are the risks of Body Branding?

As we are talking about a high-grade lesion, there are certain consequences you should take them into account:

  • Loss of permanent sensation, due to the destruction of the nerves.
  • Possibility of infection if not properly sterilized or if the person does not take care of it the way they should
  • Possible allergies to the materials of the tools used
  • Risk of diseases such as HIV, or hepatitis B and C

We spoke about how to practise each procedure in the least risky way. If you still don’t know this, go to our article on unregulated tattoos.

As a general rule, in order to avoid health problems in your clients and achieve a properly healed design, we recommend that you follow these steps:

  • Act professionally and be aware of technical, health and practical precautions.
  • Provide advice to your client on the hygiene of their room and guide them on the type of products they should use (water and antibacterial soap).
  • Make sure they know how to keep the wound covered until it stops leaking. And after this, let it breathe so that it heals properly.
  • Insist on not removing the scabs ahead of time, because it harms both the healing process and the final result.

Is Body Branding reversible?

Unfortunately (or maybe not), scars stay with us for the rest of our lives. Inking and removing tissue are not the same thing.

Aesthetic professionals could be consulted if it is possible to attenuate it, but it is impossible to remove it.

Is it legal to practise Body Branding?

We’re not gonna lie. This isn’t that easy.

Although it is legitimate that the consent of an adult protects us and removes us from criminal liability as tattoo artists, in body branding is different.

There is a loophole here because this procedure is still not fully accepted in society, as it is a deep third-degree burn, which is no small feat.

Nowadays, it is only accepted in Austria, New Zealand and in some areas in the USA. But it is not permitted in Spain and other countries, therefore it may lead to legal problems.

Hopefully, this practice will be normalized soon.

So, should you practise Body Branding?

That said, it is an extreme, invasive and very painful procedure. Not to mention that it requires certain important care both before and after.

However, one thing does not exclude the other, and you can specialize in this if you want; you’d better do it with great precaution and don’t mess with the law.

In 10 Masters, we are very aware of what it means to mark someone's skin forever, and we believe that taking it seriously is the first step to being a good professional.

If you 'record' this way of working in your head, you will see that your clients will trust you, and you will be able to avoid any future problems ;).

And for further questions about the world of tattooing, make yourself at home, anytime!

Did you know the Body Branding technique? What other body modifications are you interested in? Let us know, we’re all ears.