Glitter tattooists have the biggest disadvantage of almost any body artist. Real tatts inject ink below the skin. Henna stains. Body paints and airbrush inks are liquid, so the skin receives a pigment that has binders holding them down until the liquids dry. Good glitter tatts depend on one very important thing: the ability of the body glue and stencil to stick. The glue is fairly easy; it's engineered to adhere. (And remember, it's going on as a liquid too.) The stencil sticking to the skin is the really difficult part.

The main difficulty is that we're dealing with a very unprecictable surface. In the course of the day, you'll encounter many variations of skin type and condition. We're going to talk about some universal methods for overcoming nature and making the client's skin your stencil's friend.

Since you're going to be dealing with clients mostly during warm weather, the first step is to ask them if they've applied sunblock, tanning lotion, or any other kind of lotion in the course of the day. If so, ask them to do a quick prewash with water. (Of course, that means you'll need to have water and paper towels on hand.) The reason for a prewash is that the alcohol we'll use later on is fine for removing skin oils, but it can simply dilute and then spread around the kinds of binders contained in most lotions. Make sure the client dries the area well.

Next, do an alcohol wash of the area. I prefer using pre-moistened swabs; you can also use cotton pads and bottled alcohol. Don't just swipe the area a few times, really get in there and scrub! I will do a scrub with one side of the swab, then turn the swab inside out and do another. If you're dealing with really oily skin, you might want to use a second swab. Put the swab aside close-by; it can come in handy for cleaning up glue and glitter that gets on the skin beyond the outside of the stencil.

NOW, the big secret.

The problem with this last operation is that it's done two detrimental things. The first is that the skin is now wet, with a liquid that is an enemy to the adhesive on the stencil. You can wait for the skin to dry, or even accelerate the drying with a fan, but that now causes another problem: the evaporating alcohol has cooled the skin. The adhesive on the stencil works MUCH better when it contacts a warm surface, so I use a mini hair dryer to quickly dry the alcohol and warm the skin. (Clients have told me it's a really weird feeling; the spot gets really cold then really warm in a matter of seconds!) Don't be afraid to get the skin as warm as you think the client can bear. (Really, this should only take about 5-7 seconds.)

The only other tricky thing to deal with is body hair. For the ladies, I keep an emery pad and one of those Smooth-Away units in case they haven't shaved their legs recently or just feel that a tiny bit of fuzz might interfere with the tatt. (I never ask, but they often are simply APPALLED that they're not super-smooth!)
On big manly men, I've been using an "eyebrow trimmer"; which is a tiny little razor unit that is safe but very effective with stray hairs on the forearm that might interfere with application. Sometimes this tool is easier for the ladies too, depending on the length of stubble. Try to do any of this grooming BEFORE you clean the area, obviously.

Now, let's stabilize the patient!