A Guide to Getting a Stick and Poke Tattoo: Pain, Aftercare and More

  • A stick and poke tattoo is applied with a single needle dipped in ink.
  • It’s supposed to be less painful than a regular tattoo, but may fade faster.
  • You should never try to make a stick and a punch at home because you could catch an infection.

Hearing the term “stick and poke tattoo” might make you think of high school or college kids fooling around with needles and ink – but this method is practiced safely and professionally by tattoo artists around the world. entire. In fact, some tattoo artists specialize in this handmade style.

Most people may associate tattoo machines with inking, but stick-and-stick tattoos, sometimes called hand tattoos, are growing in popularity and can be safely obtained from of qualified tattoo artists in reputable tattoo studios.

Here’s everything you need to know about stick and poke tattoos.

What is a stick and poke tattoo?

“Hand tattoos are just another form of tattooing that does not require electricity or any form of machinery, and dates back to ancient and original tattooing methods,” says Aiyana Inatsu, a tattoo artist who exclusively performs sticks and kicks at the Irezumi studio.

An artist creates stick and poke tattoos by simply using a needle to drop ink into the skin. “It uses the same needles as tattoo machines, and the ink is inserted into the skin manually rather than electrically through a machine,” says Inatsu.

Here are the differences and similarities between machine tattoos and stick and poke tattoos:

Ultimately, the decision to get a stick and poke tattoo over a machine tattoo comes down to individual preference. Another thing to consider is noise level and comfort if they have sensory issues with loud noises.

“What my clients have liked about this method is that it’s virtually silent compared to the potentially anxiety-inducing hum of a tattoo machine, and it hurts a lot less. Many of my clients have asleep during their sessions or at least able to carry on a conversation thanks to the lack of noise and manageable level of pain,” says Inatsu.

Can I do a stick and poke tattoo myself?

While it’s possible to do a stick and poke tattoo yourself (or have a friend do it for you), experts certainly don’t recommend it. Tattoo artists and medical professionals suggest that you leave the stick to the pros.

“Tattooing should be done under sterile conditions by a trained person who understands the potential risks and how to avoid them. The proper equipment and ink should also be used to avoid complications,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jeremy Fenton at Schweiger. Dermatology Group.

Dirty surfaces, unsterilized equipment, and incorrect tattooing methods can all introduce a risk of infection.

Fenton says that in severe cases, you can get HIV, hepatitis C, or hepatitis B from needles or tools used on multiple people.

“I have heard of people using and – more alarmingly – reusing the wrong ink, wrong needles or other supplies on themselves or others, which is just a recipe for disaster. Best case scenario is you have an ugly tattoo that fades over time or completely explodes depending on how light or heavy your friend is. Worst case scenario is an infection,” Inatsu says.

How does a stick and poke tattoo work

Each artist may work a little differently, but Inatsu says the general process for getting a stick and poke tattoo should be as follows:

1. The artist disinfects the skin.

2. The artist applies a stencil of the design to the skin

3. Client gets comfortable on a tattoo bed or chair (depending on tattoo location).

4. The artist gets to work. “It’s just (relatively) soft strokes with occasional pauses to dip in more ink or wipe off excess ink so we can keep track of the stencil,” Inatsu explains.

5. The artist cleans the area and wraps it.

Just as each tattoo artist’s process is slightly different, the aftercare instructions may also differ. Tattoo tracking isn’t unique.

Inatsu recommends protecting your fresh tattoo with film for the first few days. “I personally use Saniderm, a clear, flexible, latex-free film used to protect your tattoo from your own clothes, pets, and other bacteria,” Inatsu explains.

It is waterproof but still lets your skin breathe allowing it to heal. For simpler line tattoos, Inatsu recommends leaving the film on for three to five days.

But if you get a thicker, colored tattoo, you will need to remove it after the first day when it fills with blood and ink plasma, clean the area and replace it with a new sheet of Saniderm for three to four others. days, Inatsu said.

Other artists or dermatologists may recommend leaving the tattoo covered for a while, then gently cleaning the area with antibacterial soap and water, then applying a moisturizer like Aquaphor.

Your best bet is to ask your tattoo artist what they recommend for your personal situation, and they can give you aftercare instructions tailored to you. It is crucial to follow these aftercare instructions so that your tattoo heals beautifully and does not get infected.

Regardless of the type of tattoo, Inatsu says you should avoid sun exposure and swimming for two weeks after your appointment — and you should always wear sunscreen over your tattoo to keep it looking its best. better.

Healing Process: What’s Normal and What’s Not

While your tattoo heals, keep an eye on it. The day and days after your appointment, Fenton says it’s normal to notice:

  • Mild swelling and redness (your body’s natural response to injury)
  • Mild oozing, due to inflammatory cells and plasma that may come to the surface
  • Light crust
  • Dry skin (especially around three to five days after tattooing)
  • Mild itching

However, it is important to also watch for warning signs that could indicate an allergic reaction or infection. Even if you have a tattoo done by a professional, there is a small risk of infection, especially if you don’t follow aftercare instructions.

Fenton says some potential signs of infection or allergic reaction include:

  • Blisters
  • Redness that persists and worsens
  • Tenderness that persists and worsens
  • Evacuation of pus
  • Excessive itching
  • Excessive crust
  • Fever

If you notice any of these signs, see a doctor. “Some minor infections can be treated with topical antibiotics, but deeper and more severe ones require oral antibiotics,” says Fenton.

Choosing a reputable and safe tattoo artist/shop and carefully following aftercare instructions will greatly reduce your risk of infection.

Insider’s Takeaways

Stick and poke tattoos are a unique form of tattoos done by hand without the use of eclectic machines. When done by a professional artist at a reputable tattoo shop, the process is safe and results in beautiful body art.

You shouldn’t attempt to make a stick and push yourself at home — for safety and aesthetic reasons. Always follow aftercare instructions to ensure your tattoo looks its best in the long run and doesn’t get infected.


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