How To Do A Stick And Poke: DIY Tattoo Technique


Stick and poke tattoos, also called hand-poked tattoos, homemade tattoos, or DIY tattoos, can be done by anyone taking the right precautions and using the proper tattoo tools. Irrespective of their appearance, stick-and-poke tattoos carry the satisfaction of a more personal and straightforward aesthetic. When administered by a trustworthy professional, they generally pose no more risk than conventional machine tattoos.

Keep reading to find a step-by-step guide detailing how to stick and poke.

What Is A Stick And Poke Tattoo?

Commonly referred to as hand-poked tattoos, stick-and-poke tattoos involve dipping a needle in ink and manually puncturing the skin with it. Despite being more accessible for beginners compared to machine tattoos, it’s essential to note that stick-and-poke tattoos are equally permanent and boast a distinctive style of their own.

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Where to Get a Stick-and-Poke Tattoo

The most important thing to know about getting a stick-and-poke is to be sure you find a reputable artist to ensure that high-quality, sterile tools and ink are used. Going to any highly rated, reputable tattooer who works in a proper tattoo studio should be a safe bet.

Is Stick and Poke Tattoo Painful?

Just like a machine tattoo, stick-and-pokes hurt differently for everyone depending on placement, design, and pain tolerance. I have two stick-and-poke tattoos on my inner ankles. While the first one hurt, the second one was less painful than some of the machine-done tattoos on my arm.

READ ALSO: How to Remove Temporary Tattoos: Skin Care Method

How Long Do Stick-and-Poke Tattoos Last?

There is a prevalent misconception that stick-and-poke tattoos have a shorter lifespan compared to those done with a machine. In reality, if your stick-and-poke tattoo fades or shows a decline in quality, it is more likely attributed to the inexperience of the artist or a failure to adhere to proper procedures during the tattooing process.

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How To Do A Stick And Poke Tatoo

Creating a stick-and-poke tattoo involves a manual method of tattooing using a needle and ink. Here’s a general guide, but keep in mind that safety and hygiene are crucial. If you’re not confident or lack experience, it’s advisable to consult a professional tattoo artist.

Materials Needed:

  1. Tattoo needles
  2. Tattoo ink
  3. Clean, disposable gloves
  4. Rubbing alcohol or antiseptic wipes
  5. Skin-friendly pen for sketching
  6. Petroleum jelly or A&D ointment
  7. Clean, white paper towels
  8. Sterile, disposable containers


  1. Choose a Safe and Clean Workspace:
    • Ensure your workspace is clean and well-lit.
    • Lay down disposable, sterile materials like paper towels.
  2. Prepare Your Skin:
    • Clean the area where you plan to tattoo with rubbing alcohol.
    • Put on disposable gloves.
  3. Sketch Your Design:
    • Use a skin-friendly pen to draw your design on the skin.
  4. Prepare the Needle:
    • Sterilize the needle by placing it in rubbing alcohol.
    • Let it air dry or use a clean paper towel.
  5. Dip the Needle in Ink:
    • Pour a small amount of tattoo ink into a sterile container.
    • Dip the needle into the ink, ensuring it’s saturated.
  6. Start Tattooing:
    • Hold the needle like a pencil.
    • Poke the needle into the skin at a 45-degree angle, deep enough to penetrate but not too deep to avoid excessive bleeding.
    • Create the design by repeating the poking process.
  7. Wipe Away Excess Ink:
    • Periodically wipe away excess ink and blood with a clean paper towel.
  8. Apply Ointment:
    • Once finished, clean the tattoo with water and mild soap.
    • Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or A&D ointment to help with healing.
  9. Care for the Tattoo:
    • Keep the tattoo clean and moisturized.
    • Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight and refrain from scratching or picking at it.
  10. Dispose of Materials Safely:
    • Dispose of used needles and materials in a proper sharps container.

Remember, safety is paramount, and if you’re uncertain, seeking professional help is advisable. Always adhere to hygiene practices and take appropriate precautions to prevent infection.

FAQs On Stick And Poke Tattoo

How long do stick-and-poke tattoos last?

Stick-and-poke tattoos can be permanent, similar to machine-done tattoos. The longevity depends on various factors, including the depth of the needle, the quality of ink, and aftercare practices.

Are stick-and-poke tattoos safe?

Stick-and-poke tattoos can be safe if done by a professional in a clean and sterile environment. It’s crucial to use sterile needles, follow proper hygiene practices, and take necessary precautions to avoid infections.

How is a stick-and-poke tattoo done?

To create a stick-and-poke tattoo, a needle is used to manually puncture the skin, depositing ink in the process. The design is typically sketched onto the skin beforehand, and the artist repeatedly pokes the skin to form the desired pattern.

How do I take care of a stick-and-poke tattoo?

After getting a stick-and-poke tattoo, it’s essential to keep the area clean. Wash it with mild soap and water, apply a thin layer of ointment, and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight. Follow any additional aftercare instructions provided by the tattoo artist.


Stick-and-poke tattoos provide an opportunity to delve into an alternative tattooing method and cultivate a sense of aesthetic satisfaction. These tattoos have a longstanding history, and when administered by a skilled professional in a reputable tattoo studio, they are both safe and of high quality. If you’ve identified an artist whose work you admire and are curious about this tattooing technique, it’s certainly worth exploring for a unique and personalized experience.


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