One of my goals this year is to get a stick and poke tattoo. Where will I get it? Who will I get it from? What will it be of? Not a clue. But I’ve wanted one for over ten years. My fascination with stick and poke (stick ‘n poke) tattoos started when I was 15 working as a lifeguard.
I can still distinctly remember coming into work and seeing “the cool girl” arguing with our boss over why she couldn’t get in the water for training. Wouldn’t want that new stick and poke tattoo to get messed up (or infected). Our boss nicely told her to suck it and she spent the rest of the day complaining loudly to anyone and everyone about how “unreasonable” the pre-scheduled training was. If there is one thing we would have agreed on though, it was that her poke and stick tattoo was pretty cool.
Fast forward ten plus years and I’m still obsessed with the idea of getting a stick and poke tattoo. Not only do I like the idea of having a hand-done tattoo, but I love that stick and poke tattoos go back in history to other cultures and civilizations. This isn’t just a rebellious move, it’s a unique and possibly more self-expresionate way to ink your body (which I’m always looking for).
With that being said, I was (until doing my research) also slightly afraid of getting as stick and poke tattoo. So, this year I decided to put learning about and (if reasonably possible) getting a stick and poke tattoo on the to-do list.
So, without further ado, this is a compilation of all of my research!
The first thing you need to know is that stick and poke tattoos are different than tattoos done in a shop. I know that’s a no-duh thing to say, but don’t go into the research process thinking the tattoos will feel the same, heal the same, look the same, wear the same, fade the same or anything else. They’re done in different ways (we’ll talk about the specifics of what is different) so it’s best to just expect them to be different types of art from the beginning
Commonly asked questions:
Is It Safe
This is probably the number one question you have if you’ve taken time to research. The answer is yes. Stick and poke tattoos are fairly safe. Just like regular tattoos however, you do need to use sterile needles and inks.
While there are people that regularly provide stick and poke tattoos, most people looking to get one are planning on DIYing it or having a friend do it for them. If this is the case it’s probably easiest to get your supplies from a reputable supplier online. That way you know it’s brand-new, unopened, and sterile.
If you know someone who does them “professionally” make sure they are absolutely meticulous about how they clean their equipment? After all, there’s a good chance they reuse their equipment. With that being said, even being diligent with your tattoo production there is (supposedly) a higher chance of infection than traditional tattoos done in a parlor.
Does is really hurt worse?
I don’t want to scare you away, but yes. Stick and poke tattoos are known for being more painful. How much more painful? Maybe not as crazy painful as you would think. It depends on the placement and depth you’re poking the needle. If you’re tattooing an area that typically wouldn’t hurt it might hurt a tiny bit.
If you’re doing an area that is known to be painful, expect it to feel like a hot knife burning through your skin again and again. As someone who enjoys a little pain, I’m here for it. But if that’s not you, but you still want to get a stick and poke tattoo just be mindful of the area you pick. And if you’re set on getting one in a sensitive area find someone with experience doing them.
What is the healing process like?
From everything I can find (no experience here yet), the healing process should be less intense than a traditional tattoo, but it will still take 3-4 weeks for it to be completely healed. Everyone is different, but stick and poke tattoos seem to swell more, but long-term redness and scabbing tends to be less. Aftercare with a stick and poke is just like a regular tattoo. Avoid immersion in water and direct sunlight. Wash in warm water with antibacterial soap and use unscented lotion (or my favorite aquaderm) multiple times a day.
Are they permanent?
You might have heard that stick and poke tattoos aren’t permanent, but in many cases they are. They just fade at a much faster rate. Generally speaking plan on getting your tattoo touched up more frequently than a regular tattoo. And also be aware, that placing tattoos on areas prone to fading (hello fingers) might result in a tattoo that disappears completely- however they may not, so don’t place them there just on the offset that they disappear.
So that’s about it! If you’ve read this entire post and you’re still intrigued by the stick n poke, go for it! Just remember safety first!