Unregulated tattoos: You get what you pay

Do you comply and enforce health regulations when you tattoo?


If everything goes well, at tattoo will stay with us for the rest of our lives, and we need to be sure and comfortable with our choice.

The final design we want to get tattooed can keep us awake the night before, but there’s another point that some people ignore: to do it in a regulated place. That is to say, a place that complies with all the health regulations for safety reasons.

Many people decide to get tattooed in unregulated places for the low cost they offer; other people get tattooed at a friend's house because they are starting, and they need to practice; or those who decide to do it in their holiday spot to live the experience of being tattooed by artists from other cultures or with unconventional techniques.

We are not going to sentence all the examples mentioned above and state that in any of these places everything can be risky. However, if they don’t follow some regulations, we expose ourselves to potential dangers.

We are going to talk about the legal and health requirements a tattoo must meet and the risks for health in case of non-compliance. Keep reading to learn tips on asepsis to tattoo in the correct way.

Health regulations for a safe tattoo

National regulations within the European Union are not very different. Let’s see!

The following requirements must be met to carry out a safe tattooing practice.

Homologation of pigments

The inks must be authorized. In this sense, the Ministry of Health has cataloged a register of the approved pigments on its official website. Only those pigments may be used, since they have been fully tested.

Technical conditions

In order to legally work as a tattoo artist, a hygienic-sanitary technical diploma must be obtained to ensure all the hygiene, regulatory and health conditions.

People who graduated in health studies (medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry) or a technical studies degree in aesthetics do not need this qualification as their previous studies enable this practice.

Other requirements

Apart from the aforementioned measures, it is compulsory for the artists to have civil liability insurance coverage and an updated vaccination record for both tetanus and hepatitis B vaccines.

Risks of getting tattooed at an unregulated studio

When we decide to get tattooed in a studio or in a house, out of any regulations, there is a great risk since the artists may not know the hygienic measures, or they might even ignore them. In this way, they risk the health of their client and also their own.

When these hygienic measures are not complied, the instruments and the studio are not properly sterilized, the disposable tools are reused, clients run the risk of suffering from different infections and/or diseases by contact with contaminated blood or bacteria. Let’s see some of them!


This type of bacteria is very contagious and results in the appearance of boils, blisters that suppurate and can cause intoxication that leads to nausea, vomits, and stomach pain.

Clinical associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Cameron K. Rokhsar, says that staphylococcus aureus can lead to a bacterial infection called cellulitis. Cellulitis manifests as a reddish inflammation of the skin and causes a burning sensation. This condition can spread to other parts of the body and reach the lymph nodes or the bloodstream.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. Specifically, hepatitis C, is often transmitted through contact with contaminated blood or other body fluids.

The symptoms may vary: yellowish eyes, abdominal pain and dark urine, among others.

In very few cases, acute hepatitis B can cause liver failure or other serious problems.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C, like B, is a viral infection that spreads through contact with contaminated blood that causes inflammation of the liver and can even end up generating serious liver damage such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. .

Most people have no symptoms, but those who do may experience signs of fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, jaundice. It is utterly important to obtain an early diagnosis in order to reduce the consequences.


HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus that, like the previously mentioned, can also be transmitted by exposure to contaminated blood (and also by other fluids).

Once a few weeks have passed after infection, symptoms such as fever, sore throat and fatigue may appear. Without medication, the disease reaches a major phase called AIDS with very serious health problems associated.

The Julia Wieniawa’s case

Julia Wieniawa is a famous actress, singer, and influencer with more than 2 million followers on Instagram.

The renowned influencer decided to spend her holiday in Bali, Indonesia. Once there, as she usually does, she began to post photos to share the trip with her fans. One of her publications was very controversial. What are we talking about? Keep reading to find out.

Last March 20, Julia shared with her audience that she had got two tattoos through the handpoke technique. If you put it like that, there’s nothing wrong with that, but the problem came when people began to pay close attention to the conditions in which the actress was being tattooed.

In the photograph, we can clearly see how the girl is lying on a mat with footprints from other people and dirt, both on that surface and on the floor. It can also be noticed that the artist is performing that technique with a broken glove in one of his fingers, putting the wound at risk. He actually overlooked the fact that the area that she was getting tattooed was sunburned.

For these reasons, her followers were shocked, and they sent her comments accusing her of not being aware of the example she was giving to millions of followers. Michał Wurszt, commented: “Ideal conditions for a tattoo… Oh, Julia, you have influence over so many people, and you are not setting a good example. We live in the same city, so don't hesitate to come to my studio, I'll try to explain under what conditions tattoos are made.”

This is a clear example of a situation where the necessary measures were not taken, to ensure asepsis and safety for the client.

Advice on asepsis when tattooing

Although we have mentioned the health regulations in the European Union, here is a list with detailed recommendations that everyone should take into account.

1- The tattooist must use latex gloves when tattooing (masks and caps are also recommended).

2- The work space must be covered by disposable osmotic film paper, and it must be replaced for every session.

3- Tattoo artists should wear clean clothes in the studio to avoid contamination or cover their clothes with a robe to ensure a more sterilized session.

4- The stretcher must be covered by a disposable fabric, and it must be replaced for every session.

5- Avoid carpeted or wooden floors as they are difficult to clean.

6- All inks must be approved.

7- The necessary machinery for the sterilization of the instruments must be available.

As you have already seen throughout this post, respecting health regulations is of vital importance, since non-compliance would cause consequences that threaten our physical well-being.

As a tattoo artist, try to comply with all these regulations, so that neither your client nor you (yes, you too) go through a bad experience.

As a client, ask the artist you have chosen for the procedure to correctly carry out all the steps mentioned above.

Let's be responsible and take care of each other.

And you? Do you comply with and enforce hygiene standards?