Healthy living

Choosing the right body artist

Most people go to established studios for their body art. These studios are required by law to work with high standards of infection control.

Do not consider letting friends or people who are not professionally registered body artists, or working outside established business premises, do your tattoo or piercing.

You should not get body art overseas, particularly in developing countries, as the risk of contracting diseases may be higher. There is also limited after care available.

How should I choose my body artist?

Consider these points:

  • Cheap is not always good. Compare the prices you need to pay for good quality work.
  • Shop around – ask friends who have good work done what studios they recommend.
  • Find a studio where you feel comfortable and where staff are happy to answer your questions.
  • Select a studio that has an ‘aftercare service’ so you can have follow-up visits to check the work and get help for any problems.
  • When choosing a body artist don’t go by the art on the walls. Ask to see examples of the body artist’s personal work – if they can’t show you, find another studio.
  • Most studios have body artists who are members of the professional associations of their industry. These require that members meet professional standards of infection control and artwork.  Ask if your body artist belongs to a professional association.
  • Don’t be taken in by claims of studios being Department of Health approved, as this is a false claim. Studios need to be approved by local government, but this is more about standards for premises than about art technique or infection control standards.

What to expect from your body artist

To meet infection control standards and regulations your body artist should:

  • Know about current body art legislation and guidelines and be able to talk about it with you.
  • Have a clean and tidy, well-lit studio. The body artist should be clean and tidy too.
  • Wash their hands at the beginning and end of the procedure. They should also wash their hands if they take a break during the procedure, such as to answer the phone.
  • Clean and disinfect your skin thoroughly before starting the procedure.
  • Wear new disposable gloves throughout the procedure. Once the artist puts on gloves, they should touch nothing except your skin, the needle, the jewellery or the tattooing machine. A good body artist will change gloves many times during the course of a procedure.
  • Use sterile equipment. The artist should also be able to explain how equipment is sterilised and have a functioning steriliser on the premises.
  • Use new needles, razors and other equipment for skin penetration and throw them out immediately after use.
  • Transfer any tattooing inks into sterile containers and discard the inks following the procedure (they should not return them to stock).
  • Have everything that is used to penetrate your skin in sterile, sealed bags that are opened in front of you.
  • Only use preparation equipment, such as stencils and spatulas, once.
  • Put cleaning solutions, creams and anything else that is used on your skin onto single-use disposable containers.
  • Clean the work areas between clients.
  • Assure 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.

Stud guns

Stud guns are available that are designed for ear lobes, noses and navels (belly buttons).  Do not let anyone pierce any other part of your body with a stud gun other than the area for which it has been designed. For example don’t let anyone use an ear piercing gun on your nose, or vice versa. It should be written on the gun as to which area the gun is intended for.

Piercings to other body parts should be performed using sterile needles, which are single use only.

If you are getting pierced with a stud gun, ask if it uses a sterile, single use, cartridge and that the body artist meets the same requirements as for any other body piercing.

More information


  • Choose an established body art studio and ask to see examples of your artists work.
  • Consider choosing a studio with an after-care service, so they can offer advice if any problems arise.
  • Make sure your body artist follows good health and hygiene practises.

Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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