Call to ban cheap tattoo kits being sold online

23/07/10

A major UK public health group says do-it-yourself tattoo kits which you can buy over the internet should be banned.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health claims they don't come with the right safety or aftercare instructions which means people can get infections.

The group says it's worried the kits could end up in the wrong hands and cause serious problems.

Andrew Griffiths from the organisation says people should be careful.

"Anything that's cheap by definition isn't going to be any good," he said.

"It costs money to set up proper registered premises. To be a professional tattooist you need lots of expensive equipment, lots of guidance and you need to know what you're doing.

"Any cheap kit can't possibly do that so there's going to be a risk."

Tattoo kit

Revealed bought one of the kits online for just under £90 but some are available for as little as £30.

It arrived within two days and we didn't need to prove we had a tattoo licence.

It didn't have any instructions with it as it came from China. After I did it, my wrist got manky and then it started to scab, because I forgot to look after it ointments and cream afterwards
Hazel McNeil, 21

The equipment came in a grey case with needles, a colourful selection of inks, a tattoo machine, a power pack, control pedal, disposable tips and some stencil designs - everything you need to start tattooing.

We showed the kit to 20-year-old licensed tattooist Tannika Nicholls from Reading.

"You can just see the quality is terrible," she said. "It's disgusting that people are doing this in their houses.

"It's wrong. You shouldn't be allowed to do it."

Gary Valentine is another licensed tattooist with two shops in Inverness.

He admits people shouldn't be using cheap kits and doing DIY jobs on themselves or their friends.

He said: "The sale of tattoo equipment online is not regulated in any way, and well known internet auction sites, who are not prepared to sell items such as knives, are prepared to ignore the welfare of people and the risk of spreading diseases.

"These results are a big burden to those who do everything they can, to work in a safe and hygienic environment and in accordance with local health and safety laws."

Infection

Hazel McNeil, 21, recently bought a tattoo kit online for £35.

She doesn't have a licence but was confident doing tattoos on herself after having one done professionally which went wrong.

Unfortunately, the tattoo she did using the online kit on her wrist got infected.

"It didn't have any instructions with it as it came from China," she admitted. "After I did it, my wrist got manky and then it started to scab, because I forgot to look after it ointments and cream afterwards.

"I went to T in Park the next day and kept bumping my wrist into people and that's how it got infected."

She says it happened because she didn't look after it properly but that hasn't put her off.

"Theres nothing wrong with the kit." she told us.

"To me, because I have done painting and drawings in the past, it's not really a new skill, it's a new medium."

It's illegal to have a tattoo under 18 and only people with licences are allowed to do them.

There's lots more on this on Revealed...Mad for Ink this Saturday (July 24) on BBC2 at 14.00