The procedure

When you arrive you'll need the following:

  • depending on your age, you'll need consent from your parent or guardian. If you are over 18, you may be asked for proof of your age.
  • you'll need to give the body artist your medical history, particularly about any infectious skin diseases, metal or chemical allergies or communicable diseases.
  • let them know if you have any skin healing issues, especially if you experience keloid scarring (keloids are raised scars, more common in people with dark skin)
  • talk to the body artist about the design of body art and where you want it placed. Remember that body art that is very noticeable may hurt your chances of getting some jobs.
  • tell the body artist whether you have had alcohol or drugs that day. Most body artists will not work on people who are under the influence.

Make sure the body artist:

  • has a clean and tidy, well-lit studio
  • washes their hands at the beginning and end of the procedure, and whenever there is a need to take a break in the procedure, such as answering the phone
  • wears new, disposable gloves throughout the procedure. Once the body artist puts on gloves, nothing should be touched except your skin, the needle or tattooing machine, or the jewellery. A good body artist will change gloves many times during the course of a procedure
  • uses sterile equipment. The body artist should be able to explain how equipment is sterilised and have a functioning steriliser on the premises
  • assures you that any jewellery used for body piercing is new – recycled jewellery can have tiny scratches, which can irritate a new piercing and cause infection
  • uses new needles and razors and other equipment for skin penetration, which should be thrown out immediately after being used.
  • has everything that is used to penetrate your skin in sterile, sealed bags that are opened in your presence
  • uses preparation equipment, such as stencils and spatulas, only once
  • transfers the tattooing inks into sterile containers and discards them following the procedure (not return them to stock)
  • puts cleaning solutions, creams and anything else used on the skin into single-use disposable containers
  • cleans and disinfects your skin thoroughly before it is penetrated.

The body artist should also be familiar with the WA Code of Practice for Skin Penetration Procedures, and be able to discuss this with you.

Go to the Department of Health website (external site) for more information on skin penetration procedures and the law.

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