For Body Art Customers: Frequently Asked Questions

Who regulates and inspects body art businesses?

Legislation known as “The Safe Body Art Act” revised California Health & Safety Code, Sections 119300-119327, on October 9, 2011 and instituted a uniform set of standards for the body art industry. As of July 1, 2012, all body art facilities and practitioners are required to be in compliance with California Health & Safety Code, Section 119300-119328.

The County of Sonoma Department of Health Services, Environmental Health and Safety Section is the local enforcement agency designated to enforce the California Health & Safety Code related to body art within Sonoma County.

These laws apply to all body art practices, including piercing, tattoos, permanent cosmetics, and branding. Body art must be performed in a safe and sanitary manner to prevent the potential for spreading bloodborne diseases and other infections. The Sonoma County Body Art program's intent is to promote and protect the health and safety of body art practitioners, their clients and the public.

Is body art safe?

Possible health risk complications of body art include:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Bacterial and/or viral infections of the skin or other parts of the body
  • Mild to fatal allergic reactions

In addition to the risk of infection and allergic reaction, there is growing concern regarding the toxicity of certain heavy metals and pigments associated with some dyes used in tattooing, including aluminum, antimony, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, cobalt, lead, nickel, selenium, and titanium.

How can I reduce the risk to my health?

Health risk is reduced when utilizing a body artist who:

  • Practices in a clean and hygienic environment
  • Uses safe equipment and inks
  • Sterilizes equipment
  • Wears a fresh pair of disposable latex gloves

Health risk is also reduced when the person receiving the body art rigorously follows after-care wound protocol.

My child wants to pierce or tattoo their body. Can I prevent this?

Existing law (California Penal Code, section 653) provides that it is a crime to tattoo or offer to tattoo a person under the age of 18 years, except when authorized or prescribed by a physician's statement. California Penal Code, section 652, prohibits piercing body parts of minors under the age of 18, unless the parent or guardian is present or the minor provides notarized written consent from a parent or guardian. Local law enforcement investigates such crimes.

Contact Information

Public Health Division
County of Sonoma
Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Office Location
625 5th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
38.441823, -122.7137698

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