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Tattoo Laws

There is no crouching tiger or hidden dragon on her back...but there is this jaguar...

There is no crouching tiger or hidden dragon on her back…but there is this jaguar…

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - According to the US Food and Drug Administration, 45 million Americans sport tattoos. What are the federal regulations governing tattoos and tattoo parlors?

In what may be one of the most ill-considered decisions made by 57-year-old actor Kelsey Grammar, he has now gotten a tattoo with the name of his 29-year-old fourth wife. Because surely the ink on his hip is now as permanent as the ink on the marriage license. The fourth one. Not so much the others.

And speaking of not so much, when it comes to federal law that governs tattoo practices or parlors, there’s not so much. None, in fact.

Most states have laws that prevent minors under the age of 18 from getting tattoos. State regulations of tattoo parlors often include requirements that the dyes be non-toxic, that equipment be sanitized, and that the artist not transmit infection by tattooing on an open sore.

But state laws vary widely, and enforcement of cleanliness standards may be spotty, so make sure to ask important questions like what’s used to sterilize the equipment and how often, whether the needles used to tattoo are single use, if the artist will wear gloves, how you should treat the tattoo to prevent infection, and how to remove it if you should decide that fourth time’s not the charm after all.