The Stencil: Single-Use Packaging

June 23, 2016

We took a little hiatus from the blog to finalize some packaging for two upcoming products. And that got us thinking- maybe its time to talk about why S8 products are all individually wrapped. So on this week of Stencil Science, we’re going to explore the wonders of modern manufacturing and why S8 offers the safest, most consistent products at the best price.

When we decided we were going to start manufacturing tattooing products, S8 decided to use flexible, single-use packaging for all of our gel products. We made this decision for 3 major reasons. First, single-use packaging reduces the risk of cross contamination to nearly zero. Second, our single-use packaging is actually less expensive and has less environmental impact than all of our competitors. And third, single-use packaging makes monitoring supply levels easy for you and your shop manager. Lets talk about each one of these points.

Every tattoo artist in the US will have to take a blood-borne pathogen test at least once in their career. And tattoo artists are intimately familiar with the dangers and risks associated with blood and other bodily fluids. Entire protocols exist in many parts of the United States and the rest of the world that govern the use of needles (i.e. don’t reuse them), machines and equipment (i.e. sterilizing or wrapping procedures), and obviously inks and artist protective gear like gloves, but interestingly very few localities or states have rules and regulations specifically for tattooing products that exist outside of those product spaces. In much the same way that we encourage artists to read the labels of the products that artists use, we also recommend thinking long and hard about how artists actually handle and interact with tattooing products. We’re going to compare petroleum jelly and our S8 RED Tattooing Gel, and we’re only going to look at the packaging (we think we’ve made a pretty damn good case for using our RED Tattooing Gel in the past, so we won’t try to sell you on that anymore).

Most petroleum jelly comes in a tub. The tub is made of rigid plastic, probably a High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). The top has a screw-off or pull-off lid. On the front and the back of the tub is a label- the label is made of paper and may or may not be laminated. The tub holds between 2 and 13 ounces of material.

In order to ensure client safety, artists will need to use tongue depressors or a similar exam grade product to remove petroleum jelly from the tub, and to use a new depressor every single time they need more product. Artists should also remove the label from the petroleum jelly, as even laminated labels can absorb liquids, including soaps, blood, and ink, which can serve as a potential vector for pathogens. Of course, if you’re in the state of Florida for example, you will need to re-label that tub with a description of the contents (that would be “100% Petrolatum, USP”). And then you have to factor in proper glove procedure, wrapping the tub if your state mandates it, and properly removing the cap of the tub. This little outline of course does not tackle the issue of environmental contamination, and clearly artist can just throw away a tub of petroleum jelly after each session if they don’t want to go through the hassle- though that seems a little wasteful, doesn’t it?

Here’s how to prevent cross-contamination using the single-use flexible packets of RED Tattooing Gel- tear open the packet, squeeze out the product onto a sterile work surface, tongue depressor, or the back of a gloved hand, and dispose of the whatever remains. Each one of our packets has 3 grams of Tattooing Gel, which is about enough to do between 3x3 and 6x6 inch tattoo. The same applies with our RED Stencil Gel.

Drop a RED Tattooing Gel packet on the ground? Rinse it off with soap and water and you’re good to go. The durable and flexible PET film that we use protects against environmental contamination for years, meaning if the SHTF you can fill your bunker with RED Tattooing Gel and tattoo your way through the apocalypse.

But lets say hypothetically you want to go through all the effort of properly following cross-contamination protocol for your tub of tattooing glide product. Do the economics even make sense? A 1 ounce product of a leading competitor product currently costs $10.00 on their website. 1 ounce equates to about 28.35 grams. Each one of our RED Tattooing Gel packets contains 3 grams of product. So one 1-ounce tub equals less than 10 packets.

A 10 pack of our RED Tattooing Gel costs $6.00. A 20 pack of our RED Tattooing Gel costs $10. Twice the product- that means twice as many tattoos- at exactly the same cost.

So what is the difference? Ingredients? Our ingredients probably cost about the same- they use plant fats, we use cosmetic grade silicone polymers (wanna know more about that? Check out this post). No, it is all packaging and manufacturing. See, like most petroleum jelly manufacturers, this competitor likely uses HDPE tubs for their product. HDPE ain’t cheap- as the name implies, its high density means that the amount of petroleum used is disproportionately high. And if a tub of product goes bad, or isn’t mixed right, or doesn’t fill properly, that tub needs to be destroyed by the manufacturer, meaning that there is a lot of waste product.

We use bi- and tri-layer PET. PET is a thin, durable plastic film. It’s really inexpensive. It’s really environmentally stable. And it uses orders of magnitude less plastic than HDPE- a 50 pack of our RED Tattooing Gel (including those fancy new bulk bags) uses about as much petroleum as is in a .25-ounce tub of our leading competitor. All of those savings we pass on to artists. And in the case of the petroleum saved using PET, I guess we’re passing that on to the environment.

Alright, so it is safer and cheaper to use RED Tattooing Gel. But didn’t we say something about supply levels? Yeah. We did. There are very much ballpark numbers, but it takes about a gram of any tattooing glide product to do between 1 and 2 square inches of tattoo. Can you look at a tub of petroleum jelly and eyeball how many grams remain? Keep in mind that ounces measure weight and grams measure mass.

We certainly can’t. But it is easy to count flexible, single-use packets. Having sufficient product on hand means artists don’t have to worry about running out of supplies mid-tattoo. Less anxiety, less raiding your buddy’s workspace, and better relationships with your shop manager. Plus, it saves you more money- rush shipments of any product can be expensive, and its even worse when you have to drive somewhere to pick the product up as that is time in which you could be tattooing.

So the moral of the story is that single-use packets are really good for tattooers. They save you hassle, protect your client (and reduce your liability), are much less expensive, and make it really easy to track how much you’re using and how much you have on hand for the week.

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