Justin Beiber, Harry Styles and other DIY inkers - tattoo do you think you're kidding?

It’s never been easier to buy cheap tattoo equipment and DIY tats are all the rage among celebrities - but what message does this send their teenage fans?

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The Independent Online

Ever visited the dentist and asked if you could have a go at extracting one of his or her teeth? Or gone to the hairdresser and to trim your stylist’s fringe? I’m guessing not, because they’re the professional who knows what they’re doing, and you’re the customer/patient/client who’s paying them for that expertise. It would be like going to get a tattoo and ending up giving your tattooist a permanent record of your visit. Crazy, right? Not if you’re Justin Beiber, who, to be fair, has been doing sterling work on the crazy front of late. Last week he swapped places with his inker and gave New York tattoo artist Bang Bang a rea rubbish tattoo of a mouse (I think) accompanied by the word “Swaggy”. Now, as well as having a dodgy tatt, Mr Bang is rumoured to be at risk of a $2,000 fine for letting someone without a license loose in his parlour. And Beiber’s not the first of his celebrity clients to handle a loaded tattoo gun - Katy Perry, Rihanna and Chris Brown have all added to his collection of body art.

Harry Styles has also been getting in on the DIY action, letting Ed Sheeran add to the permanent miscellany that is increasingly covering his skin. Quite apart from the embarrassment of putting some ugly-assed anchor on the body of some poor chump (professional or otherwise), this is behaviour perilously lacking in hygiene. But thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to buy cheap tattoo equipment and have a go at home, stars posting selfies of themselves giving or getting amateur tats is borderline criminal. I’ve had tattoos that cost more than the £42.95 one site is offering a tattoo machine “starter kit” (shudder) for.

Kevin Paul, who’s been a tattooist for 22 years and who has tattooed both Styles and Sheeran, is concerned about copycat fans.“When Harry’s getting his friends tattooing him at home it’s worrying. I’ve got kids and I’d hate to think of them getting tattooed by their mates, unprofessionally, unsterile, round the house. There are so many dangers.”

He’s campaigning for tougher regulations to curb amateur tattooing via the Tattoo Regulations 2013 Facebook page and on twitter.com/TattooRegs2013. He also has a story that will make the parents of One Direction fans feel afraid. Very afraid. “I had a teacher in who told me that a lot of his pupils were tattooed. He taught a girl of 13 who had a big design of flowers and swirls tattooed up her ribs. He spoke to her parents but they said, “yeah, our mate did it. He’s just bought a machine’. It’s illegal but no-one is doing anything to prosecute people.”

Here’s a thought. Perhaps the stars should stick to the day job and let the professionals stick to their guns.