You might figure that tattoos only works through an electric traditional tattoo gun, but that’s not always the case. A stick and poke tattoo can also work for those who want high-quality tattoos. But is this unique method of tattoo application safe?
Stick and poke tattoos are safe if managed right. The person applying the tattoo must use the right equipment and process for producing the tattoo. The equipment should be ready and safe for use, plus the entire treatment area must be sterile for your safety.
Let’s take a closer look at how this method works and what you can expect out of the process. You must ensure you are cautious when producing stick and poke tattoos and that you recognize what works.
What Is a Stick and Poke Tattoo?
A stick and poke tattoo is a non-electric form of tattooing. It doesn’t require the traditional tattoo gun you’d expect to find at a tattoo parlor.
The process requires a few steps to make it work while staying safe:
- The applicator will attach a tattoo-grade needle to a rod. The applicator will handle the rod during the process. The needle must be fully sterilized before use.
- The person those reviews the tattoo area to ensure it is safe. The area must be washed off and sterilized to create a safe space. Any hair around the spot must also be shaved off to ensure a clean surface.
- The user dips the needle into the ink.
- The needle then enters the skin in the spots where the tattoo will appear. The tip must move deep enough into the skin to ensure it stays safe.
- The process repeats for as long as necessary until the proper tattoo design appears.
The process is a unique practice that dates back to at least ancient Egypt. Various mummies discovered around the area have been found to have elaborate tattoos that were likely created through this process.
But stick and poke tattoos became more common in the 1970s, as the DIY movement of the skate and punk cultures helped make them prominent.
What Makes It Different From a Traditional Machine-Produced Tattoo?
A stick and poke tattoo takes longer to produce, as it entails inserting the needle in and out of the skin many times. A tattoo gun generates a cyclical motion when producing the tattoo, making it easier to run.
A stick and poke tattoo tends to be smaller on average, what with it taking longer to produce. But the stick and poke tattoo will heal faster than a machine-produced one, plus it generates minimal itching. The risk of scabbing is also minimal.
Many people also report less pain when getting stick and poke tattoos. The centralized design of the needle and the reduced pressure on the skin make this point possible. A tattoo gun would produce rapid punctures around the skin that might be irritating to some people.
How Long Do Stick and Poke Tattoos Last?
A stick and poke tattoo can last for about five to ten years on average. The tattoo will start to wash out and look faded after a few years. The tattoo may also fade early if the artist doesn’t go deep enough in the skin.
How Long Does It Take to Apply a Tattoo?
One point about stick and poke tattoos that make them safe comes from how they require additional precision. An artist needs time and effort to ensure the tattoo is safe and works well on the skin.
It could take several hours for an artist to apply a stick and poke tattoo. The artist needs to prepare the lines for the tattoo and will require intense precision when applying the needle to the skin.
Sometimes the artist will go over the tattoo lines multiple times to fill them in. The first layer might not produce a dark enough line.
How Deep Does the Stick Enter the Skin?
The needle will go about one-eighth of an inch into the skin. You will feel a slight popping sensation in the skin when it enters the area. You will start bleeding if the needle goes any further.
Should Pen Ink Work Here?
A pen ink like India ink can work for a stick and poke tattoo, but you must be cautious when finding an ink solution that works for your tattoo. The ink should be non-toxic and safe on the skin. India ink (Amazon Link) is ideal, as it is a carbon-based ink that will not cause infections.
Can Traditional Tattoo Ink Work?
While pen ink helps, traditional tattoo ink is better. Tattoo ink is also non-toxic, but it includes more intense pigments with iron oxides or metal salts. The pigments are combined with a carrier like an ethyl alcohol or distilled water to make them safe for use in the skin.
Are These Tattoo Inks Safe?
Be sure you notice whatever goes into tattoo ink before using this for a stick and poke tattoo. While most tattoo inks are safe, some products contain industrial-strength pigments intended for automobile paint.
Some items may include heavy metals utilized to produce colors. Red ink can feature mercury, while orange or yellow tones can include cadmium, for example.
What Can You Do After the Tattoo Is Ready?
There are a few things you should do after the tattoo is ready to ensure it remains safe:
- Clean off the tattoo surface with warm water and antibacterial soap right after the application is complete.
- Apply a skin ointment over the area for a few days. Unscented lotion can also work over the area until it stops feeling dry or the skin stops peeling.
- Wear loose clothing over the area.
- You can apply a bandage over the tattooed area if it’s a breathable one.
- Avoid poking at the tattoo if you notice it is scabbing. The scabbing process is a natural sign of the body healing from the application procedure.
While stick and poke tattoos can heal well, it might take a while for some more detailed or massive tattoos to heal.
What Safety Standards Are Necessary For a Stick and Poke Tattoo?
Like with any traditional tattoo application, a stick and poke tattoo will require proper sanitation and safety:
- The needle used in producing the stick and poke tattoo must be sterile. It should be a tattoo-grade needle that can enter deep enough into the skin without puncturing anything underneath or causing bleeding.
- The needle must be sterile and new before it starts working on your skin.
- The skin must be cleaned off with alcohol or another sterilizing compound.
- The thread that handles the needle should be long and sturdy enough to not get in touch with your skin. Nothing should shed off the thread while in use.
- A sterile cloth can help clean off the mix of ink and plasma that develops around the stencil line. A sterile multi-fiber material is ideal, as it can absorb these items well.
- All needles used in the application process must be safely disposed of after use. A needle should go in a plastic bottle or other sanitary needle disposal space. The container should be secure and then dropped off at a safe needle disposal site.
A Final Word
Stick and poke tattoos are safe if they are prepared right and you and the applicator use the right measures. Be sure when getting one of these tattoos you work with someone who understands the process. Make sure you also care for your tattoo well.