Possible sanitation regulations

Noah Lutman

Ogden tattoo and piercing parlors could find their sanitation regulations under scrutiny if a new bill proposed in the Utah State Legislature tightening sanitation in tattoo, piercing and microblading businesses is passed.

The bill was proposed by Rep. Melissa Ballard, who wanted to address consumer health and safety concerns. Under current regulation, each county can have different laws addressing sanitation practices, but the new bill would set statewide regulations on businesses and individuals offering these services.

Presently, tattooing, piercing and microblading licenses do not have mandated hour requirements for holders to maintain active certifications.

Travis Harmon, a tattoo artist at Deja Vu Tattoo and Piercing, has been working for 23 years. He reported that the two-year apprenticeship he completed before becoming a certified artist was unpaid, and it’s not uncommon in the industry.

“For the first year, I didn’t even touch a machine. Usually people are working full-time jobs in addition to being an apprentice,” Harmon said.

The rigidity of training, along with the already strict protocols artists must follow, often weed out those who wouldn’t take the job seriously.

Kindra Foster, a tattoo artist at Skin It Tattoos, has been working for four years. Foster says her apprenticeship process only had one state-mandated training on bloodborne pathogens. She explained that cleanliness is a huge concern in good tattoo shops, and some state regulation would be welcomed by her and the other artist at Skin It.

“For us, we’re gonna pass with flying colors, but there are still a lot of really bad shops,” Foster said.

Anyone looking to get some ink should look for a clean and reputable shop with trained artists to avoid any potential mishaps and health hazards.

“There’s definitely a lot of places popping up with master aestheticians who cut hair and do tattoos,” Foster said. “It’s not a lot of government control; you get a yearly health department inspection where they check your records and make sure your autoclave, blood-borne pathogen and first aid are up to date.”

Shops and artists who don’t practice safe sanitation practices often quickly receive a bad reputation in the industry, but customers don’t always know the difference before getting inked.

Harmon disagrees, saying the new regulations would add too much government oversight. Placing tattoo, piercing and microblading businesses under state health department regulation would allow health departments to micromanage sanitation practices in businesses.

The proposal was previously discussed in a legislative interim committee that ultimately decided to turn down Ballard’s bill due to its broad nature and not enough expert industry representatives, but the bill is to be reintroduced in the 2022 legislative session.