tattoo artists wear black gloves

This Is Why Tattoo Artists Wear Black Gloves

While tattooing, artists are exposed to a myriad of bloodborne pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. The tattoo parlor must protect both its clients and its customers. Ensuring a safe environment is an essential aspect in ensuring you create a lasting business. One of the vital safety measures in place is wearing gloves.

Tattoo artists wear black gloves because they are made out of nitrile. Nitrile gloves offer benefits ranging from high puncture resistance, better chemical resistance, better durability, and better flexibility. Nitrile gloves don’t contain latex, making them ideal for people with latex allergies.

Kate in black gloves
Me while tattooing in black gloves :)

They are creating eternal works of art that required diligence on the part of the artist. To ensure that they can keep doing what they love and have returning customers, tattoo artists wear black gloves for more than just the edgy look black brings to any outfit.

Why Choose Black Nitrile Gloves

Black nitrile gloves strike the perfect balance between comfort and precision. They offer the tattoo artist comfort in their durability and ensures that the gloves can protect both the artist and client during prolonged tattoo sessions.

These gloves allow for more excellent dexterity without impeding the tattoo artist’s ability to do fine detailed work. Nitrile gloves provide more value for money and offer more protection than other glove types. Nitrile gloves are less porous and have better chemical resistance than latex, lowering the chance of cross-contamination.

Additionally, Hazard Analysis And Critical Contro Points (HACCP) states that some plasticizers used in vinyl products during production are classified as toxicants by the European Union.

Vinyl gloves cannot withstand the stressful conditions imposed on them during the tattoo process and are prone to tearing due to their fragile glove film. Research shows they have a failure rate of 61% when put under stressful situations compared to nitrile glove’s 3% failure rate under similar circumstances.

Nitrile gloves are very elastic and contours to the hand, reducing hand fatigue and improving workplace productivity.

For environmentally-conscious people, nitrile gloves are also less harmful than their vinyl counterparts that produce dioxins and vinyl chloride monomers after their disposal.

Main Reasons Why Tattoo Artist Wear Gloves


The art of tattooing requires a high level of skill and precision. The gloves they wear must be comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time.

These gloves need to give the tattoo artist tactile information about how hard they are pressing and how deep the needle is going.

The gloves need to fit tightly without impeding blood flow to the hands but not being too loose to let anything get under the glove and onto the hands.


  • Client. Tattoo artists wear disposable gloves to ensure that a new client doesn’t come in contact with a previous client’s bodily fluids. It minimizes cross-contamination risk and ensures that the client walks out of the tattoo parlor with a new tattoo and a new tattoo only.
  • Tattoo Artist. Because the artist sees many clients throughout their career, the artist must do everything they can to protect themselves from unwanted and unnecessary exposure. One of the most significant risks a tattoo artist is exposed to is contact dermatitis. Some of the symptoms of contact dermatitis include flaky, dry skin, hives, oozing blisters, and extreme itching, to name a few. Developing contact dermatitis could be devastating to an artist.

Physical Protection

Tattoo needles are precision instruments designed to pierce deep into the skin. Wearing gloves helps protect the tattoo artist’s hands against needlestick injuries. These injuries can occur both while tattooing and while disposing of used needles afterward.

Wearing gloves thick enough to withstand a needle’s tip is essential in preventing bloodborne pathogens from spreading from client to artist. Wearing gloves also protect the artist against harsh inks, pigments, and dyes while preparing and tattoo ink.

Professional Outlook

Wearing gloves shows the public and potential clients that the parlor and artist can be trusted. Some gloves being black adds a perceived level of cool and edge to the artists. 

Legal Requirements

OSHA requires artists always to wear gloves while working with equipment or clients. The gloves need to be changed when necessary and not overused.

The wearing of gloves ensures the risk of cross-contamination is kept to a minimum and that the parlor can operate safely for years to come without facing lawsuits or fines.

How the Glove Interacts With The Tattoo Gun

An artist’s work is judged on many factors. One of those factors is precision. The more tactile feedback an artist receives from their gun while tattooing, the more accurate their decision-making becomes. This feedback could be impeded if the gloves are too thick and don’t allow the artist to ‘feel’ their way around the canvas.

If the glove isn’t thick enough and an accident does occur, then the artist runs the risk of having their skin punctured by a needle that has been used on someone else.

If the glove doesn’t have enough friction, the gun might slip and cause serious injury to either the client or the artist.

How The Glove Interacts With The Clients Skin

Artists use their fingers to keep the client’s skin taut while tattooing making it impossible for them not to touch your skin while working. Thus, they need to ensure that the gloves they wear themselves won’t cause any adverse effects while the tattoo process is taking place.

Some clients might be allergic to latex and can not get a tattoo from an artist who uses latex gloves. People who are allergic to latex could show mild symptoms, including itching, skin redness, or even rashes. More-severe symptoms include sneezing, running nose, itchy and watery eyes, and coughing. In too severe cases, it could lead to anaphylaxis. No tattoo artist wants to put their client in any more discomfort than necessary.

Picking The Right Brand Matters

Now that we’ve established that nitrile gloves are the preferred glove of many tattoo artists’ choice, the final question to answer is which is the best brand?

  • Unigloves Select Black Nitrile GT003 Tattoo Artists Gloves. These gloves are specifically designed for tattoo artists. They are chlorinated, which aids with sensitivity and flexibility with good grip to reduce hand fatigue. Their matte black finish reduces eye strain during extended sessions and ensures a clear definition between your hands and the canvas. They are latex-free and unpowdered.
  • Bodyguards GL897 Black Nitrile Disposable Gloves. Thin yet remarkably strong, these nitrile gloves were designed for maximum sensitivity and comfort. With textured fingertips, good grip is ensured.
  • Ansell TouchNTuff 93-250 Black Disposable Nitrile Gloves. Manufactured with a unique formula that provides superb fit and feels, these gloves feature a Force at Break rating of 10 Newtons, which is three times more puncture resistant than latex and PVC disposable gloves.
  • Hand Safe GN83 Blue Nitrile Examination Gloves. These gloves feature an ambidextrous design making them a versatile and economical choice. They are unpowdered and latex-free and feature highly flexible textured fingertips.
  • Aurelia Robust 9.0 Medical Grade Nitrile Gloves 96895-9. Able to withstand 9 Newtons of force, these gloves are thin yet strong. These gloves are designed to have a super-tight fit to reduce slipping and increase dexterity.

What To Do If Your Tattoo Artist Is Not Wearing Black Gloves

Suppose you get to your tattoo appointment and realize that your artist isn’t wearing black gloves. Ask them if they are nitrile. Yes, nitrile tattoo gloves do come in colors other than black.

 nitrile gloves in different colors
Nitrile gloves come in different colors

If the gloves they are using are not nitrile, and you are unsure whether you have a latex allergy or not, ask them if they would be willing to switch to nitrile. Good tattoo artists are always ready to go above and beyond to ensure their clients are happy and comfortable.

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):


Tattoo artists prefer nitrile gloves for many reasons. These gloves are comfortable, resilient, and safe. They give the artists great flexibility to keep working for long hours at a time.

It doesn’t matter what color the gloves are but rather that the person wearing them keeps your best interests close to heart. The fact that, by chance or design, they happen to be black is just a bonus.

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