You shouldn’t let anyone who isn’t a professionally trained and using professional, autoclaved equipment in a sterile environment anywhere near your skin. Even if they’re Kylie Jenner.
If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo done legitimately, the first thing you need to do is research. A lot of research. Even some licensed tattooists don’t do particularly good work, so how do you think a tattoo from an amateur is going to look?
Your tattoo is likely to be uneven and wonky, especially if you’re having one done by the highly dangerous stick and poke method (dangerous due to the high risk of blood-borne pathogens). It is also more likely to be tattooed more shallowly, making it more prone to breaking down and becoming fuzzy.
Even if your tattoo design looks great on paper, that won’t necessarily transfer across to skin; someone who is great at sketching isn’t necessarily good at painting.
If you are letting a friend tattoo you as a favour, wait until they have the proper training and equipment. Otherwise, you’re more likely to wind up with the tattoo on the left than the tattoo on the right.
Many amateur tattooists, especially those using the ‘stick and poke’ method, think that their equipment is completely sterilised after being soaked in alcohol. Unfortunately, merely soaking the equipment in alcohol doesn’t sterilise them; if the equipment isn’t properly cleaned you are at risk of life-changing blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
Even if the equipment is clean, if your tattooist doesn’t tattoo you in a sterile environment — the regulations on tattoo parlours are very stringent for a reason — you are far more likely to walk away with a tattoo that is well on its way to becoming infected.
The person who should be able to offer you crucial aftercare advice is your tattoo artist — they are far more likely to have come across infected tattoos than your GP. As we covered in our article on infected tattoos, if you are at all concerned about your tattoo, contact your tattoo artist (although if you are seriously concerned you should go straight to A&E).
If you were tattooed by a friend in their back room, there is no aftercare and they can’t provide you with any specialist ointment or sterile dressings. If something goes wrong, they won’t know what to do and the risks are already far higher.
It’s just not worth getting a tattoo from an amateur. You might want to put a bumper sticker on your Bentley but you definitely wouldn’t scratch up the paintwork. The one positive element of stick and poke tattoos is that because they aren’t as heavily embedded into the skin they are often far easier to remove with a laser, so mistakes don’t need to be permanent.