Body Art and Partnerships

Date posted: 
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 16:30
Blog poster: 
Solly Poprish
Email of Blog Poster: 

Together with the body art industry, FDA, AFDO and state and local regulators, NEHA is working to revise its Body Art Model Code (BAMC). The group is working to update the Code in a way that is reflective of current body art trends and procedures, as well as relevant and implementable to industry professionals.

Earlier this year, I accompanied a local environmental health specialist on a body art studio inspection. The tattoo shop had a very cool aesthetic, with exposed brick, art, and repurposed decorations on the walls; the tattoo artists were friendly and accommodating.

Reid Matsuda is a body art studio inspector for the City and County of Denver. He provided me insight into the inspection process and what individuals should look for in the studio when getting a tattoo.

“The biggest thing I would stress in terms of what patrons should look for is that the artists are opening the packaging in front of them. Some artists like to set up and prep for a client and that is great. As long as the sterilized items stay in the sterile packaging until the client is there to witness the sterile seal being broken. Otherwise you never really know what is sterile and what isn’t.

Also make sure they offer extensive aftercare instructions and bandage the wound prior to leaving. If for a second you feel like you are in a production line step away. This is a piece of art that is going to follow you around for the rest of your life and if artists or managers don’t give you the time to thoroughly explain risks and care, you are in the wrong place.”

As tattoos become more and more popular, it’s important to recognize that getting work done at a studio that does not properly follow health code can lead to serious repercussions.

As an inspector, the main things that Reid looks for are:

  • General cleanliness
  • Hand sinks with hot water
  • Expiration dates on ink, needles, tubes, grips, peel packs, etc.
  • Nitrile gloves (petroleum products break down the latex barrier within 15-20 minutes of use)
  • Sharps and Biohazard containers (sharps go in red rigid bin; biohazard is a prominently labeled, red bag)
  • Cleaning supplies (disinfectant vs. sterilizer), making sure they at least have Madacide to target hepatitis and HIV

As we work on revising the BAMC, we recognize how vital it is to bring together industry and regulatory professionals. We look forward to the outcome of this partnership and value the expertise of all individuals as we move through this process.


Thanks for reading,


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Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect the policy, endorsement, or action of NEHA or the organization where the author is employed. NEHA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.  

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