What kind of gloves do tattoo artists use?
I’m glad you’re asking because this has become a crucial topic during the pandemic.
It’s more difficult now to find personal protective equipment. But sanitary practices are still essential for the artist and the client.
Let’s put aside the uncertainty and leave no doubt about which are the best gloves for tattoo artists.
How to choose the best gloves for tattooing
Start with the size.
If they don’t fit properly, they won’t be safe, and they won’t be comfortable.
A small size from one brand may be a medium from another manufacturer. But, in general, the following guidelines are helpful.
Measure the circumference of your hand around the middle of the palm. If you don’t have a tape measure, use a string. Then, hold the string against a ruler.
- Small gloves usually fit hands that are 6.5 to 7 inches around.
- Medium gloves typically suit palms that are 7.5 to 8 inches in circumference.
- Large ranges from 8.5 to 9 inches.
- Extra-large goes from 9.5 to 10 inches.
However, double-check the guidelines published by the brand of gloves you’re interested in buying.
Also, consider the length of the gloves. They should cover the wrist, at least.
Now, consider the material.
As a rule, medical examination gloves are either latex or nitrile. With growing concerns about latex allergies, you’re probably better off with nitrile.
Nitrile is a smart choice because it protects against chemicals, not just blood-borne pathogens. It’s also straightforward to detect damage to nitrile gloves than latex. You can see holes and tears more easily (1).
Since disposable gloves come in different thicknesses, that’s also a vital consideration. They used to be measured by mils, and now sometimes by grams or weight.
In any case, the thicker the glove, the less sensitivity you have, but the more protection. Tattoo supply companies often sell gloves with a minimum of 3 mil thickness.
Finally, think about the color. (However, with medical gloves in short supply, you may not have much choice.)
It’s easier to ignore blood and ink on black gloves. But nitrile gloves also come in bright shades like green, orange, and purple.
How to protect yourself when using disposable gloves
At some point, you may work on someone with a blood-borne disease like HIV or hepatitis. It will be crucial for you to understand how to protect yourself with disposable gloves.
Fortunately, OSHA and the FDA provide critically-important guidelines.
For example, they recommend inspecting the gloves before donning them. If they become damaged during use, they should be replaced immediately.
Those are no-brainers, right? But some artists forget other basics like taking off gloves before picking up the phone.
They might also neglect to clean their hands before putting on gloves, and then again after removing them.
Check out one of their videos about the proper way to put on and take off disposable gloves.
The easiest way to avoid fake gloves
In a world where many products are made overseas, it’s impossible to rule out a brand of gloves based on where the factory is located.
But if you purchase gloves that are powdered, they are illegal in the USA. The FDA banned them in 2016 (2).
They determined that the powder raises the risk of infection and illness.
More reasons why nitrile gloves are better than other types
A study done in 1999 compared natural rubber latex against polyvinyl chloride (vinyl) and nitrile gloves. At the time, nitrile was a new material on the market (3).
They tested the gloves in conditions that mimicked patient care in the real world.
Sadly, vinyl gloves failed much more than latex or nitrile. Plainly put, they leaked.
Latex held up well, but contained antigenic protein. This protein is what causes allergic reactions.
Meanwhile, nitrile performed as well as latex with less risk of adverse reactions.
Those facts are the reasons why we’ll begin the reviews with disposable nitrile gloves for tattooing.
Best Gloves for Tattoo Artists
Ansell Midknight Microflex MK-296 Black Disposable Nitrile Gloves
You should know that I checked background information on all the brands of the gloves included in the reviews. Unfortunately, we live in a time when fly-by-night companies are popping up to take advantage of the world’s current situation.
Ansell was founded in Melbourne, Australia well over 100 years ago. They began as rubber product manufacturers. (Yes, they made condoms, among other things. As you can imagine, they have experience in developing thin textures that don’t break easily.)
Currently, they have an office in New Jersey and sell their products in almost every country on the planet.
I selected their Midknight black nitrile gloves as the default solution for tattoo artists.
They are appropriate for wet and dry environments, including contact with blood, oil, and various chemicals.
Moreover, they are exam-grade for medical purposes and approved for contact with food.
The textured grip features 4.7 mil thickness at the fingers and 5 mil in the palm.
Choose from extra-small to double-extra-large sizes.
Ansell Supreno Microflex SU-690 Disposable Nitrile Gloves
If you don’t mind purple, the Ansell Supreno gloves are thicker at the fingers and thinner at the palm. They measure at 7.1 mil and 4.3 mil, respectively.
Consequently, they are resistant to tearing and punctures.
Although they are approved for food and medical use, mechanics and contractors use them as well.
Another benefit is that they are tested to a high-quality standard for pinhole defects.
MedPride Powder-Free Nitrile Exam Gloves
MedPride has an office in New Jersey. They are a subsidiary of the Shield Line Company that manufactures disposable medical products.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you found this brand in hospitals and nursing homes throughout the country.
These nitrile gloves have an average thickness of 3.5 mil, which feels quite thin. If you’re looking for tactile sensitivity, these are a good option.
They have textured fingertips and a beaded cuff.
AMMEX Gloveworks Industrial Black Nitrile Gloves
AMMEX is a wholesale distributor of disposable gloves throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. They have an office in Bellevue, Washington.
Their Gloveworks series of industrial gloves have textured fingers with a 5 mil thickness. They are 9 and a half inches long from the tip of the middle finger to the cuff.
They are black in color, powder-free, and come in small through extra-large sizes.
AMMEX X3 Industrial Black Nitrile Gloves
The X3 gloves from AMMEX are thinner than Gloveworks. They measure only 3 mil thick.
You might consider these as a bargain, but they aren’t recommended for medical procedures. Instead, they are suitable for food service, janitorial work, and detailing automobiles.
ProCure Disposable Nitrile Gloves
ProCure gloves are manufactured in China. But the company’s headquarters are in California.
These blue nitrile gloves are only 3 mil thick, yet they are cleared for medical exams, dental work, and food service.
They are powder-free and available in extra-small through extra-large sizes.
When you purchase disposable gloves, be sure to check the box for recommended storage conditions. After all, you don’t want the material to break down and develop holes.
For example, this brand recommends storing nitrile gloves in a dry, ventilated environment at temperatures below 100°F. Keep them away from fluorescent lighting and sunlight.
Adenna Shadow 6 mil Nitrile Gloves
Adenna has headquarters in California. They are among the top manufacturers of disposable equipment used by medical facilities, law enforcement, and beauty salons.
Their Shadow gloves are popular for tattooing and piercing as they are rugged. The surface is fully textured with a 6 mil thickness in the fingers.
The black material is resistant to tearing and punctures as well as chemicals. It’s thicker than what’s in the regular exam gloves.
Choose from extra-small through double extra-large sizes.
ASAP Black Nitrile Powder Free Examination Gloves, 4 mil
ASAP has offices in the US and Vietnam, as well as other places worldwide. They meet US and EU regulations for disposable products like these gloves.
The 4 mil thickness allows for a good balance between sensitivity and protection. Meanwhile, the full-hand texture makes sure the user has a grip in wet and dry conditions.
They have a beaded cuff to make them stronger, and measure 9 and a half inches in length.
GripProtect Precise Black Nitrile Exam Gloves
GripProtect has an office in California. Their nitrile gloves are recommended for veterinary, dental, medical, and industrial functions. They also happen to be popular with tattoo artists.
The black version has an interesting attribute. The 4 mil thick nitrile is resistant to fentanyl and chemotherapy agents like methotrexate.
The sizes range from small to extra-large.
Adenna Phantom 6 mil Latex Powder Free Exam Gloves
But what about latex gloves? Do people still use them? If so, why?
The Phantom black latex gloves are held to a gold standard. They are powder-free and extra stretchy. The textured surface allows for a good grip in dry or wet situations.
Even better, they have the lowest amount of protein possible, less than 50 µg/dm2 of surface. This dramatically reduces the risk of allergic reactions.
Other tattoo supplies and equipment
Besides gloves, you’ll need other items to maintain a sanitary work environment. Here are some suggestions.
Hisight Tattoo Clip Cord Covers
They come 200 to a pack. One side is open, and the other is sealed.
Each one is 2 inches wide and about 31.5 inches long.
Yuelong Machine Bags – Disposable Tattoo Machine Covers
Use these bags to cover coil tattoo machines. The tough, transparent food-grade plastic simplifies cleanup when you’re done working.
Cosco Pure Liquid Green Soap
Green soap is a blend of alcohol, glycerin, and vegetable oil. It’s perfect for cleansing the skin before tattooing and removing blood before sterilizing equipment.
Be sure to dilute it with one part soap to 9 parts water before using it.
Dynarex Sharps Container
Dispose of used tattoo needles safely in a sharps container.
This one has a sliding lid that you can manipulate without touching the outside.
Since the top is translucent, you can see if it’s getting full. When it reaches the two-thirds mark, it’s time to dispose of it and get a new one.
Yuelong Black Disposable Waterproof Tattoo Bibs
Protect your workspace with dental bibs. Two layers of tissue with a polyethylene backing soaks up liquids, but won’t allow spills to penetrate.
Since they are black, it helps prevent squeamish reactions to the side of blood.
Tattoo Ink Caps
Always pour fresh ink from the bottle into caps to prevent contamination.
This package of 300 little ink cups has an assortment of sizes from small to large.
They come with a satisfaction guarantee.
Gillette Custom Plus Disposable Razor
You will need disposable razors, but some of the cheapest options are likely to leave your client with razor rash. Worse, they could end up cut and have to postpone the tattoo.
Gillette’s twin-blade razors have a pivoting head and a lubricating strip to soothe the skin.
A little advice about safety for tattoo artists
Did you know that hepatitis B can survive in dried blood for a week or more? Your client might not even know they’re infected as symptoms don’t show up for months.
For this and many other reasons, it’s crucial to disinfect and sterilize your workspace and equipment properly. You need to protect yourself and your client from cross-contamination.
It’s also crucial to properly dispose of contaminated material like gloves and used needles.
There are real risks to becoming a tattoo artist. But, when you get used to properly using protective equipment and follow sanitary practices, staying safe becomes second nature.
I hope you found this article about the best gloves for tattooing was useful.
Gloves are a necessary expense for the job. Use them to stay safe and continue to follow your dream.
Then, drop by again soon to see the new reviews of the best tattoo supplies.
1. https://blink.ucsd.edu/safety/occupational/PPE/gloves/index.html#Glove-selection University of San Diego, published June 21, 2019, accessed September 25, 2020
2. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/personal-protective-equipment-infection-control/medical-gloves#2 published March 20, 2020, accessed September 25, 2020
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10511487/ In-use barrier integrity of gloves: latex and nitrile superior to vinyl, by A Rego and L Roley, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, October 1999, accessed September 25, 2020