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What do you mean, dodo-itit-yourself tattoos and piercings are a bad idea? That looks pretty cool. “It’s going to save me a lot of money…” “I trust the guy who’s going to do it, he’s not going to hurt me…” “No one I know has AIDS or Hep, so I’m not going to catch anything…” “I’ve done it before and nothing bad has happened…” “I’m not old enough to get one done professionally, so this is my only choice…” “I really don’t care what anyone thinks, and who cares about what it looks like when I’m older…”

So what’s the big deal about home-made tattoos and piercings? What could possibly go wrong?


Infected tattoos and piercings are never fun to deal with, and can have serious, even deadly results. Your chances of getting an infection or blood-borne disease (like HIV or Hepatitis) are much greater when your tattoo or piecing was done in an unsafe setting (like at your kitchen table, or at a party, or in Juvie, or your friend’s basement…)

A professional tattoo or piercing shop is regularly inspected by the Health Unit. They are subject to Federal and Provincial guidelines to help protect your safety. Your work is done by trained professionals under sterile conditions. Your friend’s house isn’t.


The following pictures are of home-made or Do-It-Yourself tattoos and piercings. None of these were done by any professional shops in Guelph. Many of these infections required medical treatment and left permanent scars. All of these could have been prevented if the person went to a professional studio. Used an ear-gun on a belly button. The body almost swallowed the jewellery completely.

Pierced using a sewing needle, with a tooshort barbell forced through the raw hole afterwards. No sterilization, no gloves.

This is a cheap barbell bought at a fleamarket. This piece of low-grade steel was painted to look like surgical steel, but quickly rusted in the body. Professional piercers can guarantee the quality of their jewellery, and help you if you have problems. This is an abscessed nipple. The piercing was done using a safety pin “sterilized” using a candle flame. The smoke from the candle coated the pin in carbon and burnt wax, that caused a massive infection soon afterward. This person nearly died from Toxic Shock and required hospitalization.

This is an example of an autoclave. Your tattoo artist and piercer use this to guarantee that EVERY piece of equipment that comes in contact with your body is sterile (100% germ/disease free). This is something else you WON’T find in your friend’s basement.


Why would someone pay hundreds of dollars on new shoes, jeans, or on a cell phone contract, but refuse to spend money on something that will be on their body for the rest of their life?

Home-made VS Professional

Tattooing is not like drawing or painting. Tattooing takes years of practice under skilled supervision. Just because your friend can really draw, doesn’t mean she’ll give you a good tattoo.

Take a guess and see if you can spot the home-made tattoo skull.

Don’t make your first visit to a professional tattoo studio be because you need to get a Cover-up...


This is a piercing needle. It’s used once only and is safely disposed of immediately afterwards.

This isn’t.

This is an easy way to catch HIV or Hepatitis. At the very least, it will give you a crappy tattoo...

This is a professional tattoo gun. Its needles are disposable and its parts can be sterilized.

This is an autoclave. It is guaranteed to sterilize any tattoo or piercing equipment that comes in contact with your body.

NONE of these will safely sterilize DIY tattoo/piercing equipment. Too often home-made needles have been used on someone else and are NOT safe to re-use!

Tattoo inks are safe to use on the human body, and are permanent. Indian ink, pen ink, or home made tattoo ink can cause rashes and infections, and in some cases can be poisonous. If it’s not safe to drink, why would you stick it under your skin?


Homemade Tattoos/Piercings Scare Sheet  

A brief overview of why homemade tattoos and piercings are unsafe, and what to look for when in a professional tattoo shop

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