Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) licenses and routinely inspects all body art facilities in the county. Body art facilities include any business that provides tattoo or piercing services.
Body Art Is Regulated by Public Health
Body art is an invasive procedure in which the skin is punctured or compromised. Contaminates or pathogens can invade the body through punctured skin. Poor sanitation practices, such as improperly sanitized instruments or lack of testing for airborne spores, can lead to infection or transmission of communicable diseases, such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Boulder County Body Art Regulations
The purpose of the Boulder County Body Art Regulations is to establish the safe and sanitary practice of body art, the safe and sanitary physical environment where body art is performed, and the safe and sanitary conditions of equipment utilized in body art procedures.
Body Art Regulations
Regulations & Guidance
- Cartridge Needle Guidance
- Bloodborne Pathogen Training
Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogen Standards
- OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standards Fact Sheet
- OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Control Plan Guidance
This body art self-inspection checklist can be used as a general guide regarding what BCPH looks for during a health inspection at a body art facility.
Bloodborne Pathogen Classes
Hepatitis B Waiver Form
Boulder County Public Health strongly recommends that all body art operators receive vaccination for hepatitis B, as they are at an elevated risk. If an operator opts not to receive vaccination, they must sign a Hepatitis B waiver, and it must be stored onsite.
Body Artists Employed by Licensed Businesses
BCPH licenses businesses, not individuals. The business owner holds the license and is responsible for making sure that all staff comply with BCPH regulations.
Disease Prevention Guidelines
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) offers guidelines for preventing viral hepatitis in body art establishments.
Bloodborne Pathogen Classes
Licensing Application & Renewal
Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) must license all body art facilities before opening. All licenses must be renewed annually.
To Open a Body Art Facility
- Review the Boulder County Body Art Regulations
- Complete the Boulder County Body Art Application
and Plan Review
- Bring application to:
Boulder County Public Health
Environmental Health Division (downstairs)
3450 Broadway, Boulder
Offices & Buildings
If you have questions, please contact our office and speak with our body art inspector. Before you can begin work, you will need to have an inspection and get a license.
Remodeling a Body Art Facility
A formal plan review is required if you are opening a body art business in a newly constructed OR remodeled facility.
Licensed In-home Body Art
Conducting body art procedures at your residence is only permitted if
- Your home is approved by Boulder County Public Health.
- Your home meets local zoning ordinances.
- You have appropriate business and tax licenses.
Tattooing and/or piercing out of your home for money or trade is illegal if you are not licensed.
As a licensed operator of a body art facility, you are responsible for protecting the health of your clients by abiding by all state regulations. Please review the following information and resources, as they will be helpful in complying with these regulations.
For more information on licensing and regulations:
Body art is an invasive procedure in which the skin is punctured or compromised. Contaminates or pathogens can invade the body through punctured skin.
Reduce Your Risk for Health Complications
Body art is an invasive procedure in which the skin is punctured or compromised. Contaminates or pathogens can invade the body through punctured skin. Poor sanitation practices can lead to infection or transmission of communicable diseases, such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) inspects and licenses body art facilities. BCPH Body Art Facility Inspection Records Search are available for the public to review.
Ask to See their License
All body art facilities operating in Boulder County are required to be licensed by Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) and to have their license on display. Also, all operators are required to have blood-borne pathogen training. Ask to see their certificates.
Every Facility Should Be Recording Spore Information
Most body art facilities use an autoclave to sterilize instruments. The only way to know if the autoclave is operational is to perform a spore test, which is sent away and analyzed by a third party laboratory. Boulder County Public Health requires these tests to be done at least monthly, and the results to be on-site.
All Instruments Used in a Procedure Must be Sterilized
A peel pack is a bag that is clear plastic on one side and stiff paper on the other. A color change strip on or in the peel pack can tell you if the instrument inside was sterilized at the proper time and temperature.
Any Machines Used in the Procedure that Cannot be Sterilized Must Be Clean & Disinfected
Tattoo machines and ear piercing guns do not come in contact with the skin, but they must be clean and disinfected before and after each use.
Proper Disinfectants Must Be Used
The label of a disinfectant will tell you what it can destroy. A disinfectant used in a body art facility must be capable of destroying hepatitis B.
The Operator Should Demonstrate Clean Technique
This involves the operator washing their hands, wearing gloves, not touching dirty surfaces during the procedure, ensuring sterilized instruments are not compromised. When handling a sterilized instrument, an operator that touches a dirty surface must remove their gloves, wash their hands, and put on new gloves.
Review Past Inspections When Considering a Facility
BCPH publishes recent sanitation inspection records. Even with a perfect record at the time of inspections, body art should be considered a procedure that involves some risk. By selecting a facility with a strong track record, you may be reducing, though not eliminating, that risk.
Facility & Artist Safety
Poor sanitation practices, such as improperly sterilized instruments, can lead to infection or transmission of communicable diseases, such as hepatitis B and C. By asking questions and observing how a facility operates, you can help reduce your risk for complications arising from body art procedures.
- Infections Spread by Contaminated Ink
- National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH)
- Think Before You Ink: Are Tatoos Safe?
- Study Links Drug-resistant MRSA Infections to Unlicensed Tattoo Artists
Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) licenses and routinely inspects all body art facilities operating within the county. “Body art” facilities include any that provide tattoo, piercing, or permanent makeup services.
BCPH strongly recommends that people not receive tattoos, body piercings, or permanent makeup services from any person or business that is not licensed and inspected. Ask if a business is licensed, and be skeptical of advertising for body art from people who can travel to your house, or who offer to have you come to their house. Find out if the business is licensed by checking our list of Body Art Facility Inspection Records Search in Boulder County.