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Just Say No to Home Tattoos

Updated on February 1, 2014

As a tattoo enthusiast myself I've gotten professional tattoos for the last twelve years. Having your body tattooed can be a very rewarding experience, which can last a lifetime. Many people who have tattoos feel they are very much symbolic representations of their inner feelings and personality. That is the power of choosing a tattoo that represents your true self.
Bad tattoos, we see them everywhere. What possesses a person to get a bad tattoo? Seems to me, there are simply too many people getting home made tattoos that have gone wrong. Sure, tattoo removal can get rid of these, but tattoo removal is no laughing matter. It can be painful and quite expensive, so why not just have a professional tattoo artist give you the tattoo you want? They are called experts for a reason. That means they know how to make a tattoo last. That means he or she will place enough ink, deep enough and of the right composition to make a tattoo last for years and decades.

Certain tattoo laws exist because getting a tattoo is similar to receiving a medical procedure. The technique involves puncturing the dermis with a needle or another sharp instrument to a depth of 0.25-0.5 cm and simultaneously applying dark pigment. Pennsylvania’s Tattoo Law states that whoever tattoos any person under the age of eighteen (18) years without the consent of the living parents, or of the legal guardian thereof, if such minor is under the care of a guardian, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100), or to undergo imprisonment of not more than three (3) months, or both. While specific requirements to become a tattooist vary between jurisdictions, many mandate only formal training in blood borne pathogens and cross contamination.

The local department of health regulates tattoo studios in many jurisdictions. For example, according to the health departments in Oregon and Hawaii, tattoo artists in these states are required to take and pass a test ascertaining their knowledge of health and safety precautions as well as the current state regulations. Performing a tattoo in Oregon without a proper and current license or in an unlicensed facility is a felony offense. Tattoo shops need to be clean and tattoo artist need to use equipment and tools that have been properly sterilized. The dangers of using unsterilized equipment are real, including exposure to blood-born diseases like Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and HIV. (Now lets think about the amateur home tattoo artist that will make his or her tattoo guns out of random materials lying around the house. Most of these can not be taken apart, which means it’s not being cleaned properly after each tattoo and before the next.) Disgusting right? Lets look at a few examples of what could happen to a homemade tattoo given by an inexperienced person:

a.) An Unsightly Tattoo- When home made equipment is used or when someone who’s not properly trained applies a tattoo, the ink may not penetrate the skin correctly. The tattoo may end up being an embarrassment, with a fuzzy or messy design. Even worse, a tattoo that’s applied incorrectly may cause unattractive scarring.

b.) Skin Infection- Using improper inks can cause an allergic reaction that may leave scarring in the tattoo area.

c.) A Serious Illness- When the sanitation procedure is ignored, it’s possible to contract blood poisoning or a potentially fatal disease such as HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis.

Some tattoo artists find it tempting to ignore tattoo laws under certain circumstances, such as when doing work for friends in a private home. These people with limited tattoo training who perform tattooing with homemade equipment should be aware that these practices are illegal and dangerous. Although tattoo laws may seem like an unnecessary bother, they are designed to protect both the tattoo artist and the person getting a tattoo.

Laser tattoo removal can cost close to $1000 per visit, possibly needing up to ten sessions per bad tattoo to have it permanently removed. The more ink that’s in your skin, the more laser treatments that will be required. And guess what else? There is no guarantee that laser tattoo removal will actually remove your bad tattoo. Remember, it’s your body, you only get one chance, you should value it and get something that you won’t regret from a respectable artist.

My suggestion is that, if you really want a tattoo and you’re underage, talk to your parents. Discuss with them your reasons as to why you want a tattoo and spend months researching different shops and artists with the artistic ability for your tattoo. The tattoo is a lifetime commitment. Why not do it right the first time? Your tattoo should be something you cherish and love, not something you look back and are ashamed of.



In January of 2007, The Pew Research Center found out

-36% of 18-35 year olds have at least one tattoo.

-In April of 2005 it was reported that more than 45 million people had at least one tattoo.

-In July of 2005 a group of teenagers from the ages of 13-17 were asked when they thought the right age to get a tattoo was and they answer 19.



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