Can Tattoo Artists Have Long Nails?

The hands of tattoo artists are arguably the most important part of the job. However, when it comes to the nails of tattoo artists, many are uncertain whether tattoo artists can have long nails.

Tattoo artists can have long nails. Tattoo artists with long nails are still able to grip the sharp needles they use to design tattoos. Seeing as tattoo artists wear disposable medical-grade gloves, there is no cause for concern surrounding contamination. Whether a tattoo artist has long or short nails is based on their personal preference.

Let’s explore whether tattoo artists have long nails and reasons for and against tattoo artists having long nails.

Reasons Why Tattoo Artists Should Not Have Long Nails

Here are nail and tattoo-related factors to consider when determining if tattoo artists should have long nails.

Tattoo Artists Long Nails Could Poke Through The Gloves

Tattoo artists generally wear disposable medical-grade black gloves, which are used to protect their hands from injury and prevent.

These medical-grade gloves prevent contamination that could occur if their hands and the blood or bodily fluids that are expressed when tattoos are created.

It is a legal requirement that tattoo artists wear gloves as this can prevent the transmission of blood-borne diseases.

The danger of tattoo artists having long nails is that their nails could tear through the gloves, rending the protection the gloves provide useless.

Generally, if a tattoo artist has long, pointy nails, they are more likely to cause the gloves to tear due to the sharp shape of their nails. If a tattoo artist has round or square long nails, they are less likely to cause the gloves to tear.

Nonetheless, it is not guaranteed that long nails will cause the tattoo artists’ gloves to tear. Overall, a tattoo artist having long nails may pose the risk of potentially causing the gloves to tear, but it is unlikely that this will occur.

Long Nails Can Affect Tattoo Artists’ Grip On Needle

Depending on the tattoo artists’ preferred style of holding objects, having long nails may impede the tattoo artists’ ability to tattoo.

If the tattoo artist is someone who does things like typing with their fingers instead of using their nails, this is generally an indication that they are more reliant on their fingers than their nails.

In such an instance, it may be concerning if a tattoo artist has long nails, as their ability to hold the needle may be impeded by their long nails digging into their fingers.

On the other hand, in the instance where the tattoo artist is someone who generally types using their nails instead of their fingers, this can be regarded as an indication that they are more reliant on their nails when holding objects in their hands.

If a tattoo artist relies more on their nails for gripping objects, then the fact that they have long nails can be seen as a positive attribute as it indicates that they will be holding the tattoo needle in a manner that is most comfortable for them.

Long Nails Can Snag On The Tattoo Artists Glove

One of the downsides of long nails is that they often are chipped and can snag on things.

Tattoo artists are known for their steady hands that smoothly glide the needle on one’s skin to create the ideal drawing the client had in mind.

However, if a tattoo artist has long nails that are chipped, they run the risk of having their nails snag on the inside of the gloves they wear while tattooing.

The last thing tattoo clients want is for their tattoo artists’ hands to glitch while they are making a permanent mark on their skin.

Therefore, if a tattoo artist has long nails, it is important for them to ensure their nails are solid and free of any tears, cracks, or chipping that may impact their ability to tattoo smoothly.

Long Nails Can Hurt The Tattoo Artist

If a tattoo artists’ nails are too long, their nails can tend to dig into their skin while holding the needle during the tattooing process.

If the tattoo artists’ nails are digging into their hands, their hands are likely to become sore, which is not ideal. In an ideal situation, you would like your tattoo artists’ hands to be relaxed and comfortable, gliding as it moves the needle.

Therefore, a tattoo artist having long nails is fine unless it is hurting the tattoo artists’ hands while they create a tattoo.

Long Nails Can Poke The Client During The Tattooing Process

Everyone knows that individuals with long nails are notorious for poking and scratching other people with their so-called “daggers.”

If a tattoo artist has sharp, pointy long nails, they run the risk of accidentally poking or scratching their client during the tattooing process.

Despite the fact that the tattoo artist will be wearing gloves, pokes and scratches can easily cause damage despite the layer of protection between the skin and the nail.

Generally, the tattoo artist will be cautious not to poke or scratch the client while they are making use of the ink. However, in the instance when they are moving their arm or adjusting their body angle to draw the tattoo, it is possible that they might poke or scratch the client in the process.

Additionally, the tattoo artist may have to rest their non-operative hand somewhere on the client’s body to position themselves correctly to draw the tattoo. Having long nails in this instance could lead to the tattoo artist unconsciously digging their nails into the client’s body simply to get a better grip while drawing the tattoo.

Getting a tattoo is a painful experience for most people who are receiving a tattoo. As a client, the last thing you want is to endure more pain than you already are.

For this reason, tattoo artists need to be cautious when moving their hands to ensure that they don’t poke their clients in any way.


Tattoo artists can choose between having long or short nails, as neither will impact their ability to design a tattoo unless the length of their nails causes discomfort for them.

Seeing as tattoo artists wear disposable medical-grade gloves, there is no cause for concern surrounding contamination.

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):


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