Find your Next Glove: Factors to Consider When Playing the Tattoo Field

In light of COVID-19, it’s important now more than ever to prioritize personal protective equipment (PPE). The tattoo industry has always relied on the use of personal protective gear, like tattoo gloves, for the safety of artists and clients alike. Latex or nitrile gloves are commonplace in a tattoo parlor, but vinyl gloves are also an essential form of PPE. In this article, we’ll go over the key differences between tattoo gloves and vinyl gloves, and highlight the benefits of disposable vinyl gloves.

Why Use Tattoo Gloves?

Latex and nitrile tattoo gloves protect you and your clients from biological cross-contamination. They act as a barrier between your skin and the client’s tattoo site, which is essentially an open wound. Tattoo gloves are also disposable, and are replaced regularly throughout the tattooing process. This reduces the risk of passing harmful pathogens to your client’s skin, which prevents infection.

It’s crucial to dispose of your tattoo gloves immediately after tattooing, then promptly wash your hands. Check out our video on for maximum safety. You can also check out our video on how to properly remove non-sterile disposable gloves using the CDC-approved glove-in-glove technique.

Since tattoo gloves are used on a regular basis in the shop, you’ll want to invest in a large supply to account for using several pairs a day.

Why Use Vinyl Gloves? 

Disposable vinyl gloves (or polyethylene gloves) are budget-friendly PPE most often used in food service. They are not as durable as latex or nitrile gloves, nor are they nearly as effective when working with blood and potentially contaminated fluids. Thus, vinyl gloves are not recommended for actual tattooing and medical procedures.

That said, disposable vinyl gloves are great to have on hand in your shop for your clients to wear in-shop and for basic client transactions, such as accepting payments and handing forms, cards, and aftercare products to your clients. They are also great to wear while you’re cleaning your shop, since they are a reliable barrier against most chemical cleaners.

Are Vinyl Gloves Latex-Free?

Disposable vinyl gloves are made from PVC, a petroleum-based film; they are entirely latex-free, synthetic and non-biodegradable, making them a budget-friendly form of PPE with a long shelf life. When you stock up on vinyl gloves for shop cleaning and transactions, you’ll be set for several months.

As mentioned above, you only want to don vinyl gloves while cleaning or interacting with clients outside of tattooing or piercing procedures. Latex or nitrile gloves are still an essential form of PPE that you must always have on hand in your shop or studio.

Vinyl Gloves versus Latex Gloves

Latex gloves are flexible, durable, and great for potentially biohazardous conditions like tattooing and piercing. However, many artists have latex allergies, and therefore opt for nitrile gloves during tattoo procedures.

Vinyl gloves may not be as stretchy or durable as latex gloves, but are nonetheless safe for most skin types because they are latex-free.

Vinyl Gloves versus Nitrile Gloves 

Like latex gloves, nitrile gloves are flexible and a good protectant in instances of chemical and biomedical exposure; they are also known for being puncture-resistant. 

Vinyl gloves are ultimately less durable than nitrile gloves. When vinyl gloves are stretched or moved too much, the individual molecules comprising the glove can separate, making them less protective during extended use. Vinyl gloves are also ineffective when it comes to protecting you from biomedical exposure and cross-contamination.

This is why disposable vinyl gloves are most suitable for everyday tasks that do not involve biomedical exposure. Save your nitrile or latex gloves for tattooing, and don your vinyl gloves for cleaning!