Cosmetic Tattoo Training Standards

by Andrea Darby - Master Medical Tattooist & Industry Educator
Cosmetic Tattoo Training Standards

The standard of training being provided by members of the cosmetic tattoo industry is an ongoing topic of concern for both established training providers and course participants, often this is due to a failure to comply with expected educational benchmarks particularly in the area of core competency training.

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Overwhelmingly the major issues appear to relate to the lack of formal credentials in training and assessment on the part of the course providers and or the non compliance with regulatory requirements or anticipated educational framework.

After extensive consultation and consideration we have created the following Training Standards guidelines to assist prospective students and course providers to quickly determine if their proposed course meets the minimum standard that would be expected for any vocational education provider. Course providers are encouraged to ensure that they meet minimum international benchmarks by reference to the guidelines either via external or internal auditing.

Students and models are encouraged to ensure that your training provider is compliant with industry base standards by checking their promotional material and representations about course provision, naturally you should also conduct the unusual due diligence that you would prior to making any purchase or becoming involved in any training event. The intent is to assist both training providers and course participants with a straightforward quick checklist for the minimum core standards that should be expected to legitimately provide vocational education.

We are unapologetic in stating that it is unreasonable to charge course participants large sums of money to provide vocational training in instances where the presenter themselves lacks training and assessment qualifications or where the course fails to meet minimum course framework standards.

Just because a person can provide a service does not mean they are qualified to teach others to perform the service".


Cosmetic Tattoo Training Standards Compliance Guidelines

Instructor/Presenter Requirements

1.1 The presenter holds current formal qualifications in Training & Assessment that are recognised in the location where the training event is being held.
After formal assessment the presenter is endorsed as an Instructor by a not for profit representative trade association that is exclusively dedicated to the field of cosmetic and or medical tattooing.
      The presenter has successfully completed a course of instruction and has a minimum of 5 years full time experience in the field of cosmetic tattooing specific to the intended course/training event content.

1.2 If the presenter does not hold the qualifications required in point 1.1 then the course/training event is provided in conjunction with and directly supervised by an Instructor who holds those qualifications.

1.3 The Presenter/Instructor holds professional indemnity insurance that covers both their practice and the practice of students under their instruction.

"For Profit" promotional companies and representative trade associations may have conflicting interests that are not necessarily in the best interests of course providers or prospective students.

Health & Safety Requirements

2.1 The event complies with all applicable local health and safety laws and regulations.

2.2 Course Participants are provided and expected to use Personal Protective Equipment that is appropriate to the training circumstances.

2.3 Course participants are advised to speak with their treating doctors about recommended vaccinations for skin penetration services.

2.4 All models have completed a medical disclosure pre-screening questionnaire which is evaluated for contraindications and absolute preclusions from the act of cosmetic tattooing.

2.5 Client case notes are completed for all models detailing the full nature of the service that is provided and the records are maintained locally in accordance with local records handling requirements.

2.6 Clinical waste and sharps are disposed of into regulation containers in accordance with local waste disposal regulations.

Venue Requirements

3.1 The venue provider is aware of the full nature and scope of the event.

3.2 If any live cosmetic tattoo services are provided during the event the venue has all appropriate local health authority approvals for skin penetration/tattoo services.

3.3 If any live cosmetic tattoo services are provided during the event the providers of those services, instructors, presenters and technicians hold all necessary local health authority approvals.

3.4 Hand hygiene facilities are readily available in any location where live cosmetic tattoo services are provided in accordance with local health authority requirements and routine hand hygiene compliance is expected of all course participants.

Course Content Requirements

4.1 Course content complies with any existing local vocational education course outline related to cosmetic tattooing.

4.2 Training in advanced procedures and any form of para/medical tattooing is not provided to course participants until they have successfully completed instruction in the minimum areas of 'Core Competency Training' and have demonstrated a capacity to achieve positive client outcomes either by documented case files or via their extent and duration of practice.

4.3 Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) may provide partial or total exemption from the requirements of point 4.2 on a case by case basis; examples include health professionals (Doctors, Nurses, Surgical Assistants), Aestheticians, Dermal Therapists etc.

4.4 Core Competency Training should include (or encompass as pre-requisites) all of the below but not necessarily be limited to;

  • Blood Borne Pathogens Risk Management.
  • SARS CoV 2 (COVID-19) Risk Management.
  • Salon Hygiene Risk Management - Micro-organisms & disease, fomites, waste disposal, management of sharps, routine salon cleaning, disinfecting/sterilisation, storage and maintenance of procedural supplies.
  • Procedural Health, Safety and Hygiene - Local acts and regulations, personal protective equipment, hand hygiene, aseptic technique, trolley setup, hygiene barriers, pre and post procedure cleaning.
  • Anatomy, Physiology & Morphology - relative to the specific procedures, skin types, phototypes, skin complaints, skin ageing, skin health.
  • Post tattooing wound healing - stages of healing, infection prevention, promotion of healing, pigment retention.
  • Colour Theory - Colour science, skin colour influences, colour selection, pigment mixing, colour changes during healing, causes and prevention of unexpected colour outcomes, colour adjustment.
  • Equipment Usage - Correct use of cosmetic tattoo devices/tools, needle profiles, magnifiers, treatment beds/tables.
  • Preparatory Exercises - Simulation/practice pad work prior to practical training.
  • Liability, Indemnity and Insurances.
  • The Treatment Plan - Consultations, consent, indemnity and medical questionnaires, client pre and post treatment photographs, client record creation, contraindications, medical advice and preclusions, clients frequently asked questions, creating the treatment plan.
  • Record Keeping - Client privacy, record keeping acts and regulations, storage and security, consent for promotional use, consent for third party access.
  • Client Preparation - Environment, pain management, managing expectations, personality type / customising the appointment, skin preparation, makeup simulation, allergies and test patching, topical anaesthetics.
  • Procedural Techniques - Machine speed, needle use, needle angles, needle depth, hand speed, techniques specific to the treatment.
  • Aftercare - client advice, provision of supplies, hand hygiene, infection prevention, signs of infection, post procedure contact and support.
  • Problem solving - adverse outcomes, procedural injuries, infections, scarring, allergic reaction, short vs. long term reactions, colour corrections, colour change.
  • Handling complaints - preventing disputes, dispute management.
  • Professionalism & Ethics - advertising and promotions, false claims, tattoo regret, extreme treatments, high risk procedures and practices, informed consent, trade practices.
  • Formal Assessments - Written and practical assessment and record keeping of student assessment for 10 years (shorter or longer period if specifically mandated by local training and assessment standards).
  • Para/Medical Tattooing Any course that is provided to simulate normal anatomy or conceal / camouflage a defect related to an underlying medical condition should include information about the associated medical conditions including; commonest conditions, specific contraindications and preclusions, special precautions, circumstances for medical advice, withholding periods specific to the complaint or after medical treatments, limitations / scope of practice.

Certification/Accreditation Requirements

5.1 With the exception of certificates of attendance, achievement certificates are only provided where the course participant has met the required standard.

5.2 Certificates only specify techniques that were actually covered during the training period.

5.3 Certificates specify the date and time frame either in hours or 8 hour days that the participant was under instruction,
      Training hours are recorded in the students attainment records held by the training organisation.

Hopefully prospective students will find these guidelines useful in evaluating the standards of any Cosmetic Tattoo courses that they are considering undertaking.


Date of most recent revision: 08/12/2020
Original publication date: 01/05/2016

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The content of this article should be regarded as general information & is provided solely for the purpose of discussion & is not intended to replace cosmetic tattoo training or medical advice in any instance, always check with a cosmetic tattoo master trainer and or a qualified medical practitioner before acting on any information regarding cosmetic tattooing or in relation to any medical condition or medical circumstance.

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