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Can You Use Pen Ink For Stick-and-Poke Tattoo?

Also known as hand or machine-less tattoos, stick-and-poke tattoos have been primarily associated with underground culture and the tattoo community for a long time. These tattoos have always been simple, with simple and minimalist designs.

Even today, the stick-and-poke tattoo tends to be simplistic and minimal. However, some tattoo artists vary their tattoos from detailed to intricate. There is simply something for everyone in the stick-and-poke tattoo world.

However, stick-and-poke tattoos have also been associated with a DIY technique for getting tattooed. Because the stick-and-poke technique doesn’t require a tattoo machine and is done in simple dots, many have been brave enough to do these tattoos themselves.

One of the most common DIY stick-and-poke tattoo methods is done using an ink pen. But, can and should you use pen ink for a tattoo? Let’s find out in the following paragraphs!

Stick-and-poke tattoos: explained

What is a Stick-and-Poke Tattoo?

When you think of tattoos, the first thing you imagine is the tattoo machine and the needle. However, some tattoos are not done with the tattoo machine. Stick-and-poke tattoos are a form, as mentioned, of non-machine, non-electric tattooing. The ink is simply applied to the skin using only a needle.

The needle is attached to a contraption (imagine a pencil and thread), creating an analog tattoo machine. The needle is dipped in ink, then the tattoo artist pokes your skin, creating the design point by point.

Why is the Stick-and-Poke method used?

The stick-and-poke method of tattooing has its origins in ancient cultures, such as ancient Egypt for example. Because the method only requires a needle shape and some pigment or ink, it was one of the easiest ways to achieve intricate, detailed designs thousands of years ago.

However, the method survived the test of time and in the 1970s saw a dramatic revival. People started doing stick-and-poke tattoos all over the world, but the skate and punk subculture emerged as the pioneers of the DIY method.

These days, stick-and-poke tattoos are done for fun. They are also more affordable and generally believed to require less tattoo knowledge to do. Nevertheless, these tattoos are not as easy to do as many think. Therefore, DIY tattoo methods are not recommended. If you want a good stick-and-poke tattoo, go get it at a reputable tattoo shop.

Why is the Stick-and-Poke method used
Registered tattoo

Do stick-and-poke tattoos hurt?

As a general rule, stick and prick tattoos tend to hurt less than tattoos done using a machine. However, the question of pain is always subjective. Because people have different pain tolerance and pain levels, it’s hard to tell whether stick and prick tattoos hurt or not.

We would say the stick and blow hurt moderately; the pain is there but it is not as intense as when the tattoo is done using the tattoo machine. You can expect some levels of discomfort, especially if the tattoo is done in a sensitive area of ​​the body (like an area with lots of nerve endings and generally thinner skin).

Are Stick-and-Poke tattoos temporary?

One of the most common misconceptions about stick-and-poke tattoos is that they are temporary. However, people who think this couldn’t be more wrong. Stick-and-poke tattoos are the same as regular tattoos; the only differences are the tools and the method. Nevertheless, the ink finds its way into your skin, and it’s here to stay, permanently.

Admittedly, stick-and-poke tattoos done by non-professionals, amateurs using DIY tools and techniques, don’t last long. In such cases, either the tattoo fades due to the displacement of the ink in the skin or one experiences a tattoo rash. Either way, the tattoo doesn’t last long due to infection, discoloration, feathering, and a general lack of proper execution.

Read also : Temporary vs. Permanent tattoos: which one to choose?

So, can I use pen ink for a DIY Stick-and-Poke tattoo?

Well, yes and no!

Now that we know what stick-and-poke tattoos are and how they are done, we can provide two types of answers.

  1. Yes, you can do your stick-and-poke tattoo using a DIY technique, but you risk infection, a rash, and complete discoloration of the tattoo!
  2. No, you can’t do a stick-and-poke tattoo using DIY pen ink, for the aforementioned reasons!

Technically, it is possible to use pen ink for stick-and-poke tattoos; it cannot be denied. But the question is whether you should use pen ink and insert it into your skin. We believe such a thing is really ridiculous for many reasons. We know that DIY, homemade tattoos are one thing, but just remember; you place PEN INK in YOUR SKIN! Let’s look at some reasons why you shouldn’t do this!

Can I use pen ink for a DIY Stick-and-Poke tattoo
Registered tattoo

The risk of pen ink

Pen ink is found in gel pens, permanent markers, highlighters, etc. It contains dyes, alcohols and a chemical gel called glycol or glycol ether. This chemical gel is generally considered toxic in large quantities. Because its amounts in pens are so insignificant, pen ink is NOT considered toxic.

However, this non-toxicity information is valuable when the pen ink is not consumed internally, of course. So, the problem arises when one decides to put pen ink into their skin and connect it directly to their bloodstream and metabolism.

In such a case, the pen ink may lead to poisoning and overdosing of the pen ink. Some of the more common symptoms and effects include;

  • Spotted skin
  • Stomach ache
  • Digestion problems
  • skin infection

Nowadays pen inks are not considered toxic since many manufacturers have removed toxic ingredients from their use. However, you never know where the pen came from and how it was made. So you should also keep that in mind.

The Pen Ink Stick-and-Poke Tattoo Risk

First of all, one of the main risks of DIY, homemade tattoos is the fact that they are not done in regulated sterile and sanitary environments. They are also not performed with proper, sterile equipment.

Therefore, DIY stick-and-poke using pen ink can lead to serious infections, including MRSA and hepatitis infections.

There is also always the problem of skin/tattoo infection, permanent skin staining and the tattoo breaking out. Not to mention the fact that a stick-and-poke tattoo is a fresh, open wound, just like a regular tattoo. As such, it exposes you to germs, bacteria, and viruses that can put your health at risk.

The health risks of getting a pen ink tattoo are simply overwhelming. We again urge you to go to a professional, reputable tattoo artist and get your stick-and-poke tattoo done right!

How to DIY Stick-and-Poke Tattoo?

Now, if you really don’t want to get a professional tattoo, there’s a way to get the stick-and-poke tattoo from the comfort of your home. But, keep in mind; a DIY tattoo will always look like it’s homemade; it will never look professional!

So to start; do not use pen ink! Just go online and order a bottle of black tattoo ink. Real ink will look 1000 times better and there is less risk of infection with real ink. We recommend that you opt for a vegan ink without heavy metals.

Next, make sure the tools you use are properly cleaned and sterilized. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the tools will be 100% sterile, but it is better than doing nothing.

Also try to clean your skin properly and maybe even consider shaving the area where the tattoo will be placed.

Once you’ve completed your homemade tattoo, be sure to follow a proper aftercare routine. Let the tattoo heal, clean it properly, don’t cover it with heavy lotions, and try not to pick and peel it.

If the tattoo becomes red, inflamed and painful and stays that way for a few days, chances are the tattoo is infected. In this case, see a doctor as soon as possible.

To note: We advise against using so-called India ink, as the source of this ink is still debatable, as well as its ingredients. There is a high chance that the ink contains heavy metals, which could cause serious health issues.

Final Thoughts

As you may have noticed, we strongly advise people against doing DIY, homemade tattooing, especially the stick-and-poke type with pen ink. It can be very dangerous and can put your health at risk. It is always better to go for a professional tattoo than to risk skin and tattoo infection.

Stick-and-poke tattoos aren’t even that expensive; compared to regular tattoos, stick-and-poke tattoos usually cost less than $100. What we’re trying to say is that homemade tattoos aren’t worth it!

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