About Body Art

Body art, such as tattooing, piercing, branding, and permanent cosmetics, has been practiced for hundreds of years all over the world. In body art, the artist uses various tools such as needles and ink to change the skin of their client. For example, a tattoo artist typically uses an electric tattoo machine that quickly makes many small holes in the skin and inserts ink into them. Body art is often permanent, though some body art can be removed.

Body art can pose a risk to both the artist, also called a practitioner, and the client receiving the art. The greatest risks are from local infections at the site of the body art, the spread of infectious diseases, and specifically the spread of bloodborne pathogens, or diseases that are passed through infected blood.

Rules and regulations are in place to protect the artist, the client, and public health in general. The California Safe Body Art Act provides minimum standards for body art to protect both practitioner and client from transmission of infectious diseases through use of proper body art procedures and control of cross-contamination of instruments and equipment. It is important that body art practitioners follow all regulations to limit the spread of infectious disease.

Public Health processes registrations for body art practitioners and permits body art facilities. The Department enforces the California Safe Body Art Act in Los Angeles County.

Summary of the Safe Body Art Act

If you have a business such as a restaurant or retail store which resides in Los Angeles County you are require to hold a Public Health Permit/License in order to operate the business. Please note: If the business is located in the cities of Pasadena, Long Beach, or Vernon, contact the local health department.

Tattoo: the insertion of pigment in human skin tissue by piercing with a needle.

Body piercing: the creation of an opening in a human body for the purpose of inserting jewelry or other decoration.

Permanent Cosmetics: the application of pigments in human skin tissue for the purpose of permanently changing the color or other appearance of the skin. This includes microblading, micropigmentation, lip liner tattoos, and similar procedures.

Branding: the process in which a mark or marks are burned into human skin tissue with a hot iron or other instrument with the intention of leaving a permanent scar.

Report a Problem

Problems at body art facilities can be reported by calling Public Health at (800) 777-9995 or reporting via Environmental Health Online Complaint System. Public Health will not ask you about your immigration status and you can file a report without giving your name.

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