Every element of an artist’s tattoo supplies kit has a different lifespan from the next. Whilst each artist will have a set of tattoo supplies that they rely on to be up to the task time and time again when creating their unique work for clients, there comes a time when a change of the guard is needed for every piece of equipment. Throughout their training, an artist will begin to get to know which tattoo supplies they prefer to have on hand as part of their trusty kit, and they may well become quite attached to them. As we’ll look into, some tattoo supplies last a whole lot longer than others. Where a tattoo machine can continue to perform for a number of years, other tattoo supplies solely last for a few months, or even just one use. That’s not to say that artists can’t form the same connection with the tattoo supplies that need a quick disposal; artists are likely to be loyal to a particular brand and stick to the same options when restocking their supply shelves.


How to tell when it’s time to call it quits on a piece of equipment entirely depends on which tattoo supplies are being contemplated. What’s more, it’s not just timing that’s important here, there is a range of reasons why an artist might (or must) choose to swap their tattoo supplies over. One key reason for refreshing an artists kit is a simple matter of safety for a studio to stay as hygienic as possible to look after its clients. Other times, an artist might decide to reevaluate their tattoo supplies when they stop feeling right for them. This second reason for opting for new kit often comes later as an artist becomes more experienced and notices the finer details about how their equipment is performing. To get a better idea of when and why an artist might replace their tattoo supplies, let’s take a look at a few main examples of equipment used in every single studio.

When Needles Become Unsafe

Safety is something that all reputable studios take seriously and his first example of switching tattoo supplies is a fairly obvious one when it comes to putting client safety first. Tattoo needles are designed to be used once and once only. Where other tattoo supplies might have a varied lifespan, this one isn’t up for debate. There is a long list of reasons as to why tattoo needles are a one time only piece of equipment, all of them down to safety. As soon as a needle enters the skin to ink the client in the chair, it can only be used for that session. That means that even if a client comes back for a later session, they’ll still require a needle that’s fresh out of the box to avoid any gruesome and worrying health problems. The concerning consequences of using old or unhygienic needles are exactly why new needles from reliable brands are packed in sterilised and sealed packaging to amp up the safety measures for studios. It goes without saying that disposing of needles and other single-use tattoo supplies like gloves after each use should be second nature for artists as a habit that they learn from the get-go.

The Expiration Of Inks

Compared to the simple answer of when to change over from using single-use tattoo supplies such as needles, the guidelines for switching the inks that an artist uses to create their palette for a piece are a little less straightforward. The main way to tell whether a tattoo ink is good to go or not is to check the expiration date handily located on the side of the bottle. As tattoo supplies go, inks are complicated stuff to produce, so the date that an ink becomes unfit for use will all depend on its formula. However, an ink’s expiry date isn’t the only thing to be wary of. Inks from leading brands are sealed in a safe environment to prevent any airborne nasties from affecting the formula. This means that once an ink has been opened, it’s at risk of becoming contaminated and unsafe to use. Most artists will use the colours that they use most before this threat can even get close to becoming a worry, but what about the colours that aren’t so commonly used? Whilst a wall of hues and shades of ink can look impressive, an artist can avoid wasting unused ink by being sensible about when they open each bottle. Regularly checking the state of any inks on the go will help to keep these tattoo supplies ordered and safe for studio use.

Making The Most Of Each Machine

In contrast to the fleeting life of so many tattoo supplies, an artist’s machine is one that will remain in their toolkit for a long service. It’s not just the price of a tattoo machine that makes them a piece of kit to hold on to, it’s also their technical make-up that makes them so specific to an artist’s personal preference that they’d often be unwilling to change models. Just like all tattoo supplies though, a tattoo machine will eventually show its age. Unless a tattoo machine suddenly gives up the ghost, an artist’s reason for making a change will ultimately be down to how it feels when working with it to create their artwork. When a machine starts to act sluggish, it might not be the end of the road as it is possible to take apart these tattoo supplies to clean them and reconfigure some of the parts. It’s worth noting that this isn’t a process for amateurs and taking apart a machine without the proper know-how can make any performance problems worse or even dangerous. Simply put, if an artist isn’t confident that they know how to carry out serious maintenance on their machine, it could be time to go back to the beginning and invest in new tattoo supplies.

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