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Your Rights if a Tattoo Procedure Goes Wrong?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 30 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Tattoo Health Safety Quality Problems

Tattoos are for life, and although that’s a very obvious thing to say, it goes without saying that if yours goes wrong, it’s a very expensive mistake to make. Not to mention a permanent one.

Before you have anything tattooed, check to make sure that the person you want to do the job is registered with your local council. Most local authorities have a registration and inspection scheme – give them a call before you set foot in a tattoo parlour and find out if they have been registered.

Tattooists have a general duty to carry out their work properly, and they must also comply with all health and safety laws.

What is Reasonable Skill and Care?

Anyone who carries out any service for you is bound by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, which states that anyone carrying out a service should do so with ‘reasonable skill and care’

This means that If the tattooist makes a mess of your tattoo, consumer law says he or she is in breach of their contract with you and you can claim financial or physical compensation. This is easy to do when you’re talking about a car repair that didn't work, but obviously it’s harder to know what reasonable compensation would be for a tattoo not turning out quite how you expected.

It’s also worth remembering that the tattooist would also be liable for ‘consequential loss’ if your failed tattoo ended up costing you money to put right elsewhere, or you had to have it removed. The keyword is ‘reasonable’ here. No tattoo artist is going to pay for you to have something removed if you just changed your mind.

When Designs Go Wrong

If it’s just the design you’re not happy about, talk to the person who did it for you. Tell them why it’s not what you expected and see if they have any ideas about how they can put it right. They may be creative enough to somehow alter the design, although you’re putting your faith in someone who has disappointed you once so the other option is to find another tattooist who is willing to correct it. In this case, you could be entitled to ask for the money to cover the extra work from the original artist.

Alternatively, if there’s no way back for this tattoo, you can opt for laser treatment to remove it. Laser removal isn’t a cure-all - it’s costly and you may end up with unsightly scarring. If you do want laser treatment, you are entitled to ask for the costs from the original tattooist.

It might be wise to keep photos of the original work, just in case they dispute the fact that there was anything wrong, too. You may end up having to chase the matter through the court system, and if you have proof of exactly how bad it was, and why you needed it removing, you will have a better chance of success.

Health and Safety

Obviously, tattoo parlours have to operate under strict health and safety standards. Any competent tattoo artist should go through a list of medical questions before attempting to ink you, and if they don’t, be wary. There should be a health and safety certificate on display, and if there isn’t, ask to see one.

A new, sterile needle has to used on every customer, the artist should wash their hands thoroughly, and wear disposable latex gloves. This reduces any risk of infection or even hepatitis, tetanus or HIV.

Potential Medical Risks of Tattooing

As mentioned above, the serious risks, if health and safety rules aren't followed, are HIV, tetanus, or hepatitis. Other, less serious problems include:

  • One of the most common reactions is actually to the latex gloves worn by artists! Take an antihistamine before you go, as this can help reduce any reaction you might have. If you know you have a serious allergy to latex, let the artist know before you go, and they can source alternatives.
  • Using red ink can leave the skin sore and itchy for some time after a new tattoo, due to the pigment. If this happens, all you can do is ask your GP for a topical cream.
  • Tattoos are wounds – and must be kept absolutely spotlessly clean for the first few days. If it becomes infected, you’ll notice discolouration either on the tattoo or the skin around it. If you notice that the surrounding skin is red or inflamed, visit your GP.

Tattoos are not for the faint-hearted and so if you have any doubts about whether you want one after all – and especially if you have concerns about the artist about to ink you for life...don’t do it!

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[Add a Comment]
di - Your Question:
Any advice on janeys problem 're eyeliner? I have the same problem.

Our Response:
The best we can suggest in a case like Janey's where a retailer refuses to refund, is to seek mediation or a claim via the civil (small claims court).
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 1-Dec-17 @ 2:30 PM
Any advice on janeys problem 're eyeliner? I have the same problem.
di - 30-Nov-17 @ 7:49 AM
Hi I really need to know if i can make a claim on this. Basically, most of my tattoo fell out... It didn't seem like it was an allergy and the artist says that is most likely whats happened but i didn't get any of the main symptoms of an allergy. Im on antibiotics and a doctor has said that he went too deep and pierced the dermis. But whats making me question that (shouldn't question a doctor i know) is the fact that it really didn't hurt that much and i should have been in horrific pain. Either way im left with what looks like a branding because all the ink has just fallen out accept for some places of the tattoo but where the ink is gone there is an indent in my skin of the tattoo. Here are little bits of info to get a good idea of whats happened. - I did get my money back. - I couldn't see the certificate (i only knew about this after getting the tattoo) Everyone ive showed has come said the exact same thing which is "I have never seen that before" My questions are: I can claim for the doctors bills right? Can i claim for more than just the doctors bills? im almost certain im going to be left with lots of scaring
Vaudsly - 24-Nov-17 @ 7:29 PM
4 months ago I had semi permanent eyeliner applied to my top eyelid not only is it not black and crisps its a blue black colour and very fuzzy its had been badly done, I now have to apply eyeliner everyday in order to cover what she has done which deceives the whole point of the treatment in the first place, and it doesn't look great when I don't want to wear make up, intact it looks a bit bizarre. Its not the worst in the world but it certainly looks worse than I could have done myself. After 4 weeks and after it had completelyhealed was when I could realistically asses how bad the eyeliner had been applied. It has taken me 3 months to find a new artists that I could trust to get an opinion on it and to see if it could be corrected, I have been busy! life gets in the way. Now I have found someone I trust who will rectify it but it involves colour lifting to a small area and the full fee to rectify the other artists mistake. It will cost over 300 pounds, the original botched treatment was 170. I have spoken to the original salon and she is being funny with me, demanding pictures which is fine, but she claims that I am only asking for my money back as it should be due for a re touch. Surely not after 4 months? its supposed to go 18 months before its necessary to touch it up. Anyway I think she is going to be difficult to get some kind compensation towards rectifying her mistake as she is saying I should have said something sooner which I didn't want to do till I had found another professional and asked for their opinion, I also do not want to have her try to rectify it herself as i have no confidence in her whatsoever. Any advise on where I stand. Should I let her take photos is this is advisable? I can't see what harm it could do.
janey - 21-Nov-17 @ 6:33 PM
A tattoo artist has done a WRONG TATTOO on me. I had a rose done on my neck and chest peice of 3 buddhas. One which is hear no evil. Second one see no evil and the last one speak no evil, however the tattooist tattooed on the last one hear no evil. So now my tattoo doesn’t even make sense. After the fact, as I looked on my phone camera and realised he tattooed the wrong Buddha he looked so ashamed. My whole tattoo session was £500 and the tattooist said he can’t give me even half the money back only give me an hours worth back of money which is about £80. I’ve been to three tattoo shops for advice and they ALL said I should get the whole amount of money back as he made a BIG mistake and £80 will not even cover for me to now have to get it fixed. If he is not willing to give me the whole amount how do I go about the situation?Can I also get compensation from this?
Liyah - 13-Nov-17 @ 7:08 PM
Lindylou - Your Question:
Hi thank you for your quick response. She wasn’t told when she went for the initial consultation when the design was planned she definitely thought she was dealing with the shop and their good reputation for tattoo excellence. But the tattoo artist told her a few minutes before he started the tattoo, far too late in my opinion! After complaining to the shop when the tattoo started to fade they told her that he wasn’t a colour expert. I am shocked that they allowed anyone to do any tattooing at all especially when they knew he wasn’t proficient. I think she should take it further as I’ve since discovered this guy if from Portugal and surely the shop owner has a responsibility to the customers this guy has had anything dealings with.

Our Response:
If the shop didn't inform her/wasn't clear about the fact that he was independent then they should be responsible for rectifying any problems.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 7-Nov-17 @ 3:02 PM
Hi thank you for your quick response. She wasn’t told when she went for the initial consultation when the design was planned she definitely thought she was dealing with the shop and their good reputation for tattoo excellence.But the tattoo artist told her a few minutes before he started the tattoo, far too late in my opinion! After complaining to the shop when the tattoo started to fade they told her that he wasn’t a colour expert. I am shocked that they allowed anyone to do any tattooing at all especially when they knew he wasn’t proficient. I think she should take it further as I’ve since discovered this guy if from Portugal and surely the shop owner has a responsibility to the customers this guy has had anything dealings with.
Lindylou - 6-Nov-17 @ 8:14 PM
Lindylou - Your Question:
Hi my daughter had a tattoo done last week and although she likes the design the colours have faded so badly that she can see through the tattoo to an old one that was meant to be covered. She went to complain today only to be told that the tattoo artist was a “guest artist” and wouldn’t be back until next year. The tattoo cost about £500. She has now been told that they will put it right and will charge her half price at £80 per hr it will take 3 hours so that is £120. Surely the shop should be taking responsibility for this and putting it right for free? Can you please give some advise that I can pass on to her. Many thanks

Our Response:
Was your daughter aware that she was using a freelance tatoot artist? Or did she think she was dealing with the tattoo salon?
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 6-Nov-17 @ 2:54 PM
Hi my daughter had a tattoo done last week and although she likes the design the colours have faded so badly that she can see through the tattoo to an old one that was meant to be covered. She went to complain today only to be told that the tattoo artist was a “guest artist” and wouldn’t be back until next year. The tattoo cost about £500. She has now been told that they will put it right and will charge her half price at £80 per hr it will take 3 hours so that is £120. Surely the shop should be taking responsibility for this and putting it right for free? Can you please give some advise that I can pass on to her. Many thanks
Lindylou - 5-Nov-17 @ 6:17 PM
I got a paw print tattoo done a few months ago at a parlor in porterville ca, it is very mishapen, and its also not in the color i wanted. I dont know if there is any rights as a customer that i would have? I dont want a refund, just want it fixed. Its supposed to be a paw print, but looks like a 3 year old did it. Had i gone to someone with no experience or at someones private residence i would understand it being messed up,but i went somewhere that was supposed to be professional
Savanah - 26-Sep-17 @ 11:14 PM
Ree- Your Question:
Hi my fiancé and I recently had special engagement tattoos done in Spain, within 2 days I noticed the lines were inconsistent on mine and as the scabs came off you could see the tattoo hadn't taken in places, he'd barely scratched the surface of the skin. I returned to the shop and he redone the missing bits. Now we're home and they're healed but so faint and bitty.gutted! :( I've contacted them, sent them pictures and asked for a full refund as we now have to pay out to have them redone here as they look ridiculous but I have a feeling I won't see a penny.they've suddenly gone very quiet. Can you tell me what my rights are please? Feeling very stupid for having it done but felt reassured at how professional and clean the whole set up was.

Our Response:
As Spain is in the EU, under EU rules, a trader must repair, replace, reduce the price or give you a refund if goods you bought turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised. If the trader is not responding however, you may have to contact one of the Spanish consumer enforcement bodies - here is some more information
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 25-Sep-17 @ 11:27 AM
Hi my fiancé and I recently had special engagement tattoos done in Spain, within 2 days I noticed the lines were inconsistent on mine and as the scabs came off you could see the tattoo hadn't taken in places, he'd barely scratched the surface of the skin.I returned to the shop and he redone the missing bits. Now we're home and they're healed but so faint and bitty....gutted!:( I've contacted them, sent them pictures and asked for a full refund as we now have to pay out to have them redone here as they look ridiculous but I have a feeling I won't see a penny.....they've suddenly gone very quiet. Can you tell me what my rights are please? Feeling very stupid for having it done but felt reassured at how professional and clean the whole set up was.
Ree - 23-Sep-17 @ 5:38 PM
Don - Your Question:
I got my eyebrows done semi permanent however the artist has made one higher than the other, one darker than the other and they are also blue certainly not the colour I wanted ?? Also I asked for a hairstroke look but they don't look anything of a sort just a complete mess ?? I've asked for a refund but she said she will not do that. She wants to rectify them but I have lost confidence in her and don't trust she is capable of making them correct. I want a refund so I can get them fixed with another salon. How do I make sure I get a refund? Thanks

Our Response:
Did you mention it at the time of paying? What did they say then? Usually you should give the salon a chance to rectify a badly done beauty treatment. If you don't trust them to do this, they should refund you. Ask to speak to a senior manager or salon director. If they refuse, the small claim court might be your next course of action.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 5-Sep-17 @ 10:36 AM
I got my eyebrows done semi permanent however the artist has made one higher than the other, one darker than the other and they are also blue certainly not the colour I wanted ?? Also I asked for a hairstroke look but they don't look anything of a sort just a complete mess ?? I've asked for a refund but she said she will not do that. She wants to rectify them but I have lost confidence in her and don't trust she is capable of making them correct. I want a refund so I can get them fixed with another salon. How do I make sure I get a refund? Thanks
Don - 2-Sep-17 @ 2:02 PM
Hi guys so the problem I have and would like advice on is a tattoo artist started a piece and is refusing to finish it or give me the money back for the hours he hasn't done leaving me with a terrible half done tattoo on my arm this tattooist is from Exeter he is American and goes by the name of billy if anyone comes across him I would stay well away
Exeter - 23-Aug-17 @ 9:46 AM
ALOHA - Your Question:
I've tattooed my eyebrows twice before and throughout the years it faded. I just recently tattooed my eyebrows again a couple days ago. I'm currently in the scabbing phase and a huge piece of that scab discarded itself yesterday. It looks like my skin did not accept the ink. I was assured that I would be able to touch up a few times to get them to actually look like eyebrows. So, I will definitely be scheduling myself for that touch up ASAP. What bothers me is that prior to the procedure, I wasn't given documents to sign regarding the tattoo procedure nor treatment from this salon. Isn't that weird? I had to fill out documents from my prior treatments years ago. What happens if the tattooist won't be able to repair my eyebrows? I would like to inquire information to protect myself. Please advise.

Our Response:
There is no real obligation on a salon to give you anything to sign before a procedure. Please follow the advice in the above article if this your treatment is not rectified or you're unhappy with it.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 4-Aug-17 @ 2:41 PM
I've tattooed my eyebrows twice before and throughout the years it faded.I just recently tattooed my eyebrows again a couple days ago.I'm currently in the scabbing phase and a huge piece of that scab discarded itself yesterday.It looks like my skin did not accept the ink.I was assured that I would be able to touch up a few times to get them to actually look like eyebrows.So, I will definitely be scheduling myself for that touch up ASAP.What bothers me is that prior to the procedure, I wasn't given documents to sign regarding the tattoo procedure nor treatment from this salon.Isn't that weird?I had to fill out documents from my prior treatments years ago.What happens if the tattooist won't be able to repair my eyebrows?I would like to inquire information to protect myself.Please advise.
ALOHA - 3-Aug-17 @ 8:42 PM
I went in for a tattoo today, with my picture, she completely changed most of the tattoo, it looks nothing like it was supposed to, she changed the design, I'm devasted it's awful, completely changed it!!!! im devastated, at the time I just smiled and said yeah, but I hate what she's done!!
Gaynor - 26-Jul-17 @ 2:42 AM
I recently got a cover up tattoo on the back of my hand it's been over a week since I had it done however it's not healing at all it's very red, swollen and hot to the touch it's all shabby and crusty some places it's oozing with yellow matter, and i have pins and needles up my arm I went back to the tattoos yesterday he said to give it another couple of weeks and go back he will touch it up as their is places he has missed and some of the colour has not taken. I'm scared it's gone bad ways but too embarrassed to go to a Doctor to look at it. I certainly don't want it touched up It looks a mess and hurts like hell. Can I get a refund off the tattoist?
Shirl - 21-Jul-17 @ 10:03 PM
Kate - Your Question:
I got my eyebrows microbladed, however the artist has made one higher than the other, one darker than the other and they've healed patchy. Also I asked for a hairstroke look, but she gave me a block shadow. I've asked for a refund but she said she will not do that. She wants to rectify them but I have lost confidence in her and don't trust she is capable of making them correct. I want a refund so I can get them fixed with another salon. How do I make sure I get a refund? Thanks

Our Response:
In general you should give the service provider one chance to rectify the work and then if that fails ask for a refund or claim back the cost of another salon doing the repair work.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 6-Jul-17 @ 1:53 PM
I got my eyebrows microbladed, however the artist has made one higher than the other, one darker than the other and they've healed patchy. Also I asked for a hairstroke look, but she gave me a block shadow. I've asked for a refund but she said she will not do that. She wants to rectify them but I have lost confidence in her and don't trust she is capable of making them correct. I want a refund so I can get them fixed with another salon. How do I make sure I get a refund? Thanks
Kate - 5-Jul-17 @ 8:58 PM
Just got my tattoo today and the guy messed up the word on my arm. In the middle of the session he said "ohh I almost messed up!" After the end of the session I look at my arm and he messed up the lettering. This tattoo parlor has 5 stars on google/ yelp, and the guy has been doing this for 20 years! They also did not have me nor my friend sign release papers.. I've been wanting this tattoo for years and he messed it up.. what do you guys suggest I do?
Mikaykay - 17-Jun-17 @ 7:28 AM
I'm quite annoyed the tattoo guy pj messed up the tattoo he was doing I asked him over nearly a month to please sort this he just made excuses and said it was my fault i must of done it ,how I left the tattoo was like that and he said it would heal and go back to normal it never did now that face is distorted and he is laughing at me, not once was i wasrude to this guy how ever, now I asked for a refund because it's so badhe point blank said no, what's really annoyed me is he said he would forward my number to his boss, funny thing is he is self employed and has no boss not even the owner wants to know so what can I do can someone help
Tan - 11-May-17 @ 8:39 PM
Sorry I forgot to add some ,So I went into get a tattoo today I got a special date on my leg I told them 5.3.14 in romain numericals they said no problem we can do that for you ,so he drawed it up and said you happy I said yes ,got it tattooed on ,and when I come back home my fiance said that is the wrong date I was like what he looked up on Google on they have put 5.5.13 instead of 5.3.14 after a number of times telling them the dates they have messed up , I've been crying my eyes out I hope you can help .
Sj - 5-May-17 @ 8:24 PM
So I went into get a tattoo today I got a special date on my leg I told them 5.3.14 in romain numeralsand they said no problem we can do that for you ,so he drawed it up and said you happy I said yes ,got it tattooed on ,and when I come back home my fiance said that is the wrong date I was like what he looked up on Google on they have put 5.5.14 instead of 5.3.14 after a number of times telling them the dates they have messed up , I've been crying my eyes out I hope you can help .
Sj - 5-May-17 @ 8:11 PM
k.r.e. - Your Question:
My son recently got a Tattoo on his inner arm and after the artist did the main part, he said that my son needed a couple weeks to heal and for the swelling to go down and make sure no scabbing. He went back and the artist said he needed a couple more weeks since he said was not quite healed yet. when he went back, the guy touched it up some but still did not finish it and at that time, the artist asked for the remaining money due and the tattoo will be finished the next time my son comes in but as it turns out, the guy left for a family emergency out of state and my son or that company has not heard back from him. He paid for the whole tattoo plus tip and it is not finished. My question is, should that tattoo company be responsible for finishing it or what is our next step?

Our Response:
Yes if your son paid for entire/complete tattoo then that's what he should have received. Tell him to write to the company requesting the job is completed, if it's not, the small claims court should be the next step.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 2-May-17 @ 12:50 PM
My son recently got a Tattoo on his inner arm and after the artist did the main part, he said that my son needed a couple weeks to heal and for the swelling to go down and make sure no scabbing. He went back and the artist said he needed a couple more weeks since he said was not quite healed yet. when he went back, the guy touched it up some but still did not finish it and at that time, the artist asked for the remaining money due and the tattoo will be finished the next time my son comes in but as it turns out, the guy left for a family emergency out of state and my son or that company has not heard back from him. He paid for the whole tattoo plus tip and it is not finished. My question is, should that tattoo company be responsible for finishing it or what is our next step?
k.r.e. - 1-May-17 @ 9:56 PM
Trev - Your Question:
The tattoo artist messed up my tattoo twice in a row when they had the picture in front of them.im not willing to go back a a 3rd time because it's not fixable.what can be done in this matter?

Our Response:
If they've attempted to rectify the issue and it hasn't worked, you can claim a refund from the service provider under the Consumer Rights Act.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 6-Apr-17 @ 10:54 AM
The tattoo artist messed up my tattoo twice in a row when they had the picture in front of them.im not willing to go back a a 3rd time because it's not fixable.what can be done in this matter?
Trev - 4-Apr-17 @ 4:54 PM
A woman I know is piercing ears at home using the same needle for every one she claims she sterilised the needle everytime,she asked if she could pierce my son's ear I told her straight away no,she's not trained in any way shape or form,is she breaking the law?
Barry - 17-Feb-17 @ 7:07 PM
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