The biggest allergy issue the customer needs to worry about is with latex, as the tattoo artist usually uses latex gloves. You might want to ask your tattoo artist ahead of time if they would be able to switch to another type of gloves for your tattoo. Definitely give them advanced notice, because they might have to order or purchase the gloves if they are not stocked up in the shop.
Even if you have a slight allergy to latex, you may want to have different gloves, as the tattoo artist will be doing a lot of stretching the skin and touching already tattooed areas. This can lead to swelling, irritation, and more discomfort than necessary, and can negatively affect the healing process.
Some tattoo artists use “A&D” ointment instead of Vaseline for covering the finished tattoo, and this has cod liver oil in it as a major ingredient. If you have an allergy to fish oil, this can be an enormous problem for you and your tattoo, and can even send you to the hospital, not to mention ruining your tattoo. So if you do have an allergy to fish oil, talk to your tattoo artist before the day of the tattoo about using a Vaseline or bacitracin. (note: most, but not all “A&D” products have cod liver oil in them, but the majority do.)
Red ink is the only color that no current tattoo ink manufacturer has developed to be hypo-allergenic. Ink makers have the either most of or the rest of their colors hypo-allergenic, so you only need to worry about red if you have allergies to certain pigments. Unfortunately, not many ink ingredients are released by the manufacturers, so you may want to do a small test on your skin before getting the tattoo. Ask if the tattoo artist will put a small dot of red ink n your skin, and keep it there for a full 24 hours. If no swelling or irritation appears, you’ll be safe to use red in your tattoo.
There are many metals that are put into tattoo inks, including nickel, which is said to be the most common metal allergy. Most normal earrings are made from nickel, so if you can wear those, some tattoo inks may not be able to be used. If you have allergies to metals, the above 24 hour dot test should be done with any color you may be wanting for your tattoo.
Henna tattoos, which are not an actual tattoos, but a dye that stains the skin for a few weeks, have chemical para-phenylene diamine (PPD), which can cause the “tattooed” areas to be swollen or itchy for months. Worse, it cause your body to become PPD hyper-sensitive, and be unable to touch things dyed with PPD, which is a chemical in many clothing dyes. Doctors suggest people with sensitive skin should avoid henna tattoos. A list of ingredience on packages of henna tattoo dye should let the customer know if that brand includes PPD or not.