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!