How to Find the Best Tattoo Shops in San Rafael
Body art, including body piercings and tattoos in Marin County, are a popular form of self expression. Tattoo designs and types of body piercings vary greatly, so it's important to find good tattoo shops in San Rafael. And the cheap tattoo shops will not do the best tattoos in Marin County, including for permanent make-up in Marin County, such as permanent eye liner, eye brows, lip liner, and more.
The following research by The Prime Buyer's Report identifies the best tattoo artists & body piercing in Marin County and issues related to hiring them.
Updated October 02, 2018
How to Find the Best Tattoo Shops in San Rafael
There is no state license required for body piercing or tattoo artists in Marin County and so no state standard for competency, safety, or skill. Likewise, there is no legal requirement that they have liability insurance which is critical to you to be reimbursed if a mistake or negligence causes you injury.
This makes it all the more significant that all tattoo shops bearing The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have been evaluated by our research staff, and have had to pass all the requirements for Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 status such as survey phone calls to previous clients to verify high satisfaction, clean complaint record, verified liability insurance, only employees legal to work in the U.S., and more.
Finding The Best Tattoo Artists in San Rafael & Marin County
The best tattooists, while being regarded as true artists, also carefully adhere to industry standards, safety and hygiene, to provide safe tattooing and body piercing.
When you're trying to find the good tattoo parlors in Marin County, look for the following indications of quality and safety.
• Is the place clean? The walls and floors should be clean and smell clean. The tattooing rooms should be sterile and sanitized. If anything looks dirty or you feel uncomfortable, move on until you find a clean and modern place for your tattoos or piercings.
• Is the tattoo artist friendly? The best will listen to your ideas and ask questions about your expectations. If at any time, you feel that he or she isn't understanding you or isn't a good match, keep looking until you find the ones you trust the most.
• Tattoo artists should use new needles and fresh ink for each new tattoo. Previously used needles and ink can be contaminated with blood during tattooing, transmitting disease. So insist that they show you they are using new needles that are sealed in sterile packaging until immediately before use. Likewise, the ink should come from brand new bottles or individual packets opened for each customer.
• Before deciding, talk with the artists that work there and make sure they are experts in the type of design you want. Some tattoo artists specialize in tribal tattoos, cross tattoos, star tattoos or other specific tattoo designs. Others work with you to design your own custom tattoo. Ask to see their portfolios to get a better idea of the designs they specialize in.
• You shouldn't be pressured into buying a tattoo until you're ready. If you feel pushed, that's a sign that tattoo studio isn't the best fit for you.
Increasing Popularity of Permanent Make Up in Marin County
There's a growing demand for tattoos of permanent make up in Marin County such as permament eye liner, permanent eye brows, permanent lip liner and more. And it's an an older crowd that's interested in permanent make up compared to the average tattoo client. Some consumers are drawn to permanent make up due to allergies to conventional make up. Others simply like the idea of eye liner, lip liner, and eyebrows that won't smear, smudge or run, and the convenience of not having to apply make up every day. If you're looking for permanent make up it's best to choose a tattoo artist who has plenty of experience specifically with permanent make up, as opposed to just general and traditional tattoos.
Some Body Piercers & Tattoo Artists in Marin County Are Much Better Than Others
The Prime Buyer's Report lists the contact information above for the following tattoo shops & body piercing studios in Marin County: Blue Lotus Piercing San Rafael CA, Bloodlines Tattoo San Rafael CA, Spider Murphy's Tattoo San Rafael CA, Lucky Drive Tattoos San Rafael CA, The Pirates Cave San Rafael CA. Other tattoo shops in San Rafael that might still be in business are: .
Popular Types of Tattoos and Tattoo Designs in San Rafael
Most tattoo artists will do any designs, but some tattooists are more skilled in specific styles. Before you decide, see samples of their recent work or show them photos or sketches of the designs you're considering to see if they feel comfortable doing that type.
There are five basic types of tattoos among which you can choose. Whetheryou want are tribal tattoos, flower tattoos or tattoo pictures, tattoos usually fit into one of the categories below.
Abstraction tattoos are related to ancient tattooing traditions such as ancestral tattoos and have become very popular in recent years. These include tribal tattoos, Celtic, Chinese symbols and Old English letters. Abstraction tattoos are commonly placed as navel tattoos, on the chest, calf, and back.
Naturalistic tattoos are detailed and often include faces and scenes. They are often more expensive than other types because they are more time intensive and detailed. To create realistic looking naturalistic tattoos, tattoo artists use shading, artistic perspective and other special techniques.
Dedication tattoos, also called pledges or pledge tattoos, are some of the most easily recognized tattoos and are widely available. These include ones with sailor-like designs or the insignias of military branches. Some also appear as the popular heart and name banner combination.
Simplification tattoos are some of the most popular types and include animals, stars, flowers hearts, and dragons. They are often custom-designed specifically for the client. Zodiac tattoos are still popular.
Complex tattoos are intricate designs with traditional ones being Japanese body suits or combinations or collages of other tattoo designs, which may not be of a related theme. Tattoo sleeves are a common form and may be a planned piece of art or may simply be many single tattoo designs applied over time that eventually merge into one complex tattoo.
Choosing Among the Best Piercers and Piercing Studios in Marin County
There are many good body piercing studios in Marin County, but make sure they measure up to the highest standards of the industry. There are health risks associated with body piercing, so it's important to find a piercing studio that's clean and safe.
Visit some body piercing shops in San Rafael to see they are clean and hygienic. Pay special attention to the restrooms and the piercing rooms. Are the walls clean? Does it smell clean? Also look at the body piercers and shop staff—are they clean? The condition of the facility will tell you a lot about the professionalism of the staff and the quality of body piercings offered at that studio.
Piercing studios in San Rafael must pass health inspections to operate legally. Call the Marin County Health Department to find out if the piercing shop you're considering is licensed and if they have any complaints registered against them.
Ask to see the autoclaves. Autoclaves are sterilization devices that body piercing studios use to sterilize body jewelry, and piercing tools and equipment by using steam and high pressure. If they don't have an autoclave, look elsewhere.
Then ask to see recent spore test results of the studio. Autoclave spore testing is the only way to be sure their autoclaves are functioning at high enough temperatures to kill harmful bacteria and organisms, including HIV and hepatitis. The best piercing studios in Marin County keep recent spore test results on file and can show them to you. If any aren't willing to show you their most recent autoclave spore test results, move on.
Body piercing takes a lot of skill and should never be done by inexperienced piercers. The best body piercers in Marin County have completed apprenticeships and regularly attend continuing education courses on new trends and safety measures in the industry. A piercer should portfolios with photos of recent piercings they've done, including photos of healed piercings so you can see the long-term quality of their body modification work.
Before your body piercing, good piercers will talk with you about aftercare and give you written aftercare directions. Ask questions about follow up care and healing time in different spots on the body, since there can be very different healing times between ear piercings, nose piercings, and a Prince Albert, tongue stud, or belly button piercing (navel piercing).
If at any time body piercers recommend washing your new body piercing with harsh soap or tell you to use hydrogen peroxide, alcohol or antibiotic ointments, they are not following piercing industry standards and you should look for someone else.
Ask if you can watch them set up for a body piercing and if you can be in the room when they set up for your piercing and take note of the following:
• They should wash their hands and put on medical grade gloves before touching your skin or your body jewelry.
• They should have all jewelry and equipment in individual sterilized packages.
• They should change their gloves if they touch anything other than you and the sterile equipment.
• All needles should be in sterile, individual packages and shouldn't be opened until you are in the room and they are to be immediately used.
• They should never use needles that have been soaked in any kind of liquid. Only new needles sterilized in autoclaves are acceptable. If that's not the case at the piercing studio you're at, leave and go to another.
• Immediately after the piercing, all needles must be disposed of in Sharps containers or biohazard containers. Needles should never be reused.
• No good piercers in Marin County will use ear piercing guns (also called stud guns) to perform body piercings. Because ear piercing guns are made of plastic, they cannot be sterilized in autoclaves, so they are dangerous body piercing equipment that can spread infections.
Popular Types of Body Piercing in Marin County
Ear piercings are the most common type. Many women and men have single or more piercings in their ears. Common types of ear piercing include:
Ear lobe piercing: A traditional type of piercing through the lower lobe of the ears.
Horizontal ear lobe piercing (transverse ear lobe piercing): Like traditional ear piercings, horizontal ear lobe piercings are through the ear lobe. However, they are done horizontally through the thickest part of the ear lobe instead of front to back like traditional ear piercings.
Orbital ear piercings:This can refer to several different types of ear piercings. Generally, orbital piercings are where one earring enters through two holes and appears to orbit the ear.
Industrial ear piercing: Any two ear piercings that are connected with a single piece of body piercing jewelry. Also known as scaffold piercings.
Conch ear piercing (inner and outer): Cartilage piercings in the shell of the ear. These can be along the top, sides or inside the ear cartilage.
Daith ear piercing: Inner ear cartilage piercings at the top of the opening to the ear canal.
Helix piercings: Outer ear piercings along the ear cartilage on the outer rim of the ears.
Rook ear piercing: Piercings are worn on the ridges inside the shell of the ear.
Snug piercing: Inner cartilage piercings halfway down outer ear rims.
Traugus piercings: Cartilage piercings through the thick layer of the ear.
Anti-traugus ear piercing: Ear piercings through the lower conch of the ears, opposite of traugus piercings.
Tongue piercings: Body piercings worn through the tongue, with jewelry worn directly through the tongue center. Other types include tongue frenulum piercings (piercings through the flap of skin located underneath the tongue) and viper bites (two piercings side by side on the tongue, also known as angel bites).
Stainless steel body piercing jewelry known as barbells are the most common type of piercing jewelry worn in tongue piercings. Because the tongue moves so frequently, it is important for the piercers to choose the right size of barbell for you. Inserting barbells that are too thin can migrate from the site of the original hole, causing pain and infection. However, barbells that are too thick can cause speech problems.
Lip piercings Usually not piercings through the lips themselves (except in horizontal lip piercings and canine bite piercings), but instead are placed anywhere around the mouth.
Monroe piercings are labret piercings worn on the upper lip, named after the location of Marilyn Monroe's famous beauty mark.
Medusa piercings are those with lip piercing jewelry worn through the center of the lip.
Labret piercings have lip piercing jewelry worn in the center or off-center above or below the lips.
Snakebites incorporate two lip piercings on each side of the lip.
Spiderbites are two lip piercings where the jewelry is placed side-by-side on one side of the lower lip.
Nose piercings are nose cartilage piercings or skin piercings anywhere on the nose. Nostril piercing is the most popular type of nose piercing, but there are several other types. Nasal septum piercings are cartilage piercings (also called bull rings) in the septum, or the cartilage in the center of the nose. Bridge piercing is another popular type of nose piercing. These are through the small area of skin located between the eyes at the top of the nose. Bridge piercings have a risk of migrating which would cause scarring, so it's important the piercer select the right size jewelry for your new nose bridge piercing.
Belly button piercing / Navel piercing Most often done with barbells. However, specialized navel piercing jewelry is available including navel barbells, navel barbells with pendants, belly chains and captive ring beads.
Find Safe Tattoo Shops in Marin County
Safety is very important.
The best tattoo artists and body piercers in San Rafael usually don't run group sessions known as "tattoo parties" or "piercing parties". Because those so-called "parties" are often run by underqualified piercers or tattoo artists (some aren't even formally trained), the infection risk is higher, as is scarring, rejections of piercings or poor quality tattoos.
The same information goes for outdoor festivals and tent tattooing. The outdoors isn't so sterile and good tattooists and body piercists never work in an unsterile environment.
After you get a new tattoo, the artist should cover the fresh tattoo with a sterile bandage that remains on the site for several hours to help promote healing and prevent infection. However, some cheap tattoo shops in San Rafael and unqualified home tattooists may only cover new work with plastic wrap or Saran wrap. This is a dangerous because the plastic wrap doesn't allow fresh air to get in or out, and traps bacteria against the skin. It also does nothing to contain blood or body fluids in the area around the new tattoo. This can spread disease and can put you at risk for infection and even death. Never let tattoo artists use plastic wrap as a covering for new tattoos.
Piercing guns (stud guns) used to be a popular way for body piercers to pierce ears. However, piercing guns cannot be sterilized and are a sure way to spread infection and disease. According to the AAP (Association of Professional Piercers), piercing guns should never be used for body piercing, not even for ear piercing. Talk with the body piercing studios first to make sure they use needles instead of piercing guns for all body piercings, ear piercings.
How to Deal with Body Piercing & Tattoo Studios in Marin County
Take Time Choosing Marin County Tattoo Shops and Piercing Studios in San Rafael
You're going to have your new tattoo for a long time, so take your time choosing good tattoo artists in San Rafael and Marin County. The best body piercing studios in Marin County should be willing to explain your options for ear piercing, tongue piercing, nose piercing and belly button piercing and show you various types of body piercing jewelry.
Likewise, the good tattoo shops in San Rafael offer many types of tattoo designs (including tribal tattoos, cross tattoos, star tattoos, butterfly tattoos and fairy tattoos) that can be placed anywhere on the body, including lower back tattoos, foot tattoos and tattoo sleeves. Good tattoo artists in Marin County should show you pictures of tattoos they've personally done. Some of the best tattooists in San Rafael will even help you design your own tattoos and create custom tattoo drawings of the exact tattoo designs you want.
Only move forward once when you're comfortable with the skill and quality of the body piercings and tattoo designs offered by Marin County tattoo shops & piercing studios that you've spoken with.
Be Prepared Before You Talk to Marin County Tattoo Shop & Body Piercers in San Rafael
It helps to have an idea of the tattoo designs and tattoo placements (lower back tattoos, arm tattoos, foot tattoos, etc.) that you're most interested in before you visit the tattoo shops in Marin County. That way, the tattoo artists can tell you if they specialize in those kind of tattoo designs and can help you narrow down your body art choices.
If you have pictures of the body piercings and body piercing jewelry you like best, or you can provide pictures of tattoos and tattoo designs you prefer, bring those along to the tattoo & piercing studios in San Rafael. Tattooists are artists, and many appreciate a visual example of the body piercings and tattoo designs you like.
Questions to Ask At Marin County Tattoo Shops & Piercing Studios in San Rafael CA
Getting tattoos and new body piercings is a big decision, and you want to be sure you've chosen the best tattooists in Marin County and body piercers in San Rafael to create your body art. Before you make any decisions on the best tattoo designs or body piercing types for you, visit several of the best tattoo shops & piercing parlors in Marin County and talk with the staff, including the tattooists and piercers that will potentially be doing your tattoos and body piercings. Ask questions to help narrow the field and choose among the many qualified candidates in Marin County. The following list will get you started.
• How long have the tattoo & piercing shops been in business in Marin County?
• How long have the tattooists and body piercers been doing body art at the Marin County tattoo & piercing places?
• What are the Marin County piercing and tattoo shops' sterilization methods for tattoo equipment and body piercing supplies such as tattooing needles, tattoo ink, body piercing needles and body piercing jewelry?
• What are the qualifications of the best body piercers and tattooists in Marin County?
• How many tattoos have the best Marin County tattooists personally done? Are they familiar with the tattoo designs you like best?
• Do the tattoo artists at the best Marin County tattoo shops guarantee their work? What is the process if you are unhappy with your new tattoos? Will the Marin County tattooists repair or reink your tattoos at no charge?
• What is the full cost for the unique tattoo designs you want from Marin County tattoo shops? If reinking or other tattoo repairs need to be done, are there additional costs?
• What is the full cost for body piercings at Marin County body piercing parlors?
• Will the Marin County tattoo artists show you pictures of tattoos they've done recently? Do the tattoo galleries have tattoo pictures of tattoo designs you're interested in (such as tribal tattoos, dragon tattoos, Japanese tattoos and rose tattoos)?
• What sort of aftercare is recommended for the unique tattoos and body piercings you're interested in? Will the Marin County tattoo & piercing shops give you written instructions for tattoo aftercare and body piercing aftercare?
• How long will your new body piercing and tattoos from Marin County body piercing & tattoo shops take to heal? Is there anything you can do to help speed the healing process for your new tattoos & piercings?
• Are there any reasons why the Marin County body piercers and tattoo artists think you would not be a good candidate for body art such as tattoos or body piercings?
Choose Certified Body Piercers and Tattoo Artists in Marin County
Look for Marin County tattoo shops and body piercing studios that do more than the bare minimum. Some good body piercing shops & tattoo parlors in San Rafael CA are members of industry groups such as the MTABP (Association of Master Tattoo Artists and Body Piercers) and APP (Association of Professional Piercers). Other tattoo shops & piercing studios may be members of organizations such as the Better Business Bureau.
Know Your Rights When it Comes to Body Art By Marin County Body Piercers & Tattoo Artists in San Rafael
The first thing to remember when it comes to unique body art at body piercing studios and tattoo shops in San Rafael is that you have the final say over what body art is right for you. If at any point during the process you feel uncomfortable or question the integrity, cleanliness, or skill of the body piercers or tattoo artists—even during the body piercing or tattooing—you have the right to walk away.
If you have a problem with Marin County body piercing studios or tattoo shops in San Rafael, you are protected by certain rights. These consumer advocacy laws vary by location. For more information, visit the California Department of Consumer Affairs Web site or call the Marin County Health Department. See our article "Research on Marin County Tattoo Shops & Piercing Studios in San Rafael" for more information about good tattoo shops in San Rafael.
Research on Tattoos in Marin County & Piercing Studios in San Rafael CA
Regulatory Bodies & Trade Associations Related to New Tattoos & Piercing in Marin County
APP Association of Professional Piercers (http://www.safepiercing.org/)
APT Alliance of Professional Tattooists (http://www.safe-tattoos.com/)
Conventional and Cosmetic Tattoo Association (http://www.cctattoo.org/)
NTA National Tattoo Association (http://www.nationaltattooassociation.com/)
Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (http://www.spcp.org/)
The American Academy of Micropigmentation (http://www.micropigmentation.org/)
BBB Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.com/)
Media Regarding Piercing & Tattoos in Marin County
Skin & Ink Magazine
International Tattoo Art
Tattoos for Women
Tattoos for Men
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for TOP 10 Tattoo Shops and Piercing Shops in Marin County within the following zip codes:
94978, 94950, 94971, 94929, 94948, 94966, 94976, 94915, 94913, 94942, 94912, 94977, 94964, 94938, 94963, 94914, 94979, 94933, 94957, 94973, 94904, 94947, 94930, 94946, 94925, 94941, 94924, 94940, 94970, 94945, 94903, 94901, 94920, 94965, 94974, 94949, 94939, 94960, 94937 and 94956
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for TOP 10 Piercing & Tattoos Shops in Marin County within the following cities:
Bel Marin Keys, Belvedere, Belvedere Tiburon, Black Point, Bolinas, Corte Madera, Dogtown, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Ignacio, Inverness, Kent Woodlands, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marin City, Marinwood, Marshall, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Muir Woods, Nicasio, Novato, Point Reyes Station, San Anselmo, San Marin, San Quentin, San Rafael, Santa Venetia, Sausalito, Stinson Beach, Strawberry Point, Tamal, Tamalpais Valley, Terra Linda, Tiburon, Dillon Beach, Forest Knolls, Lagunitas, Mission Rafael, Olema, Ross, San Geronimo, Tomales, Woodacre, Almonte, Lucas Valley and Sleepy Hollow