Many consider stick-and-poke tattoos to be mostly handcrafted. For this reason, it is fair to worry about how long such a homemade tattoo will last. But, the same question always comes up, with regular tattoos or hand tattoos done by a professional tattoo artist.
So how long do these tattoos last?? A year? Some months? Are they even permanent? If you’re considering getting a stick and punch tattoo, it’s important to know how long the ink will last for you, so you can determine if the tattoo is worthy of your time and money.
Therefore, in the following paragraphs, we will look at the longevity of hand tattoos and what you can do to make these tattoos last even longer.
Stick-and-poke tattoos: a quick summary
If you’re reading this, chances are you already know what stick-and-poke tattoos are. However, if you don’t know, here’s a quick rundown.
Stick-and-poke tattoos are done by hand, without a machine, with a special contraption using a tattoo needle or similar sharp object. Because hand tattoos don’t always require a needle and can be done with sharp, thoughtful objects, they are infamous for being done in prison and usually by amateurs.
Because of the stitching, sometimes even when done by professionals, handmade tattoos almost always end up looking homemade. They lack the sophistication of a standard tattoo.
Nevertheless, when done by a professional tattoo artist, stick-and-poke tattoos can be truly unique and special. Nowadays, hand tattoos are known to be a special form of expression, usually by people who are more on the side of the alternative, underground, and artistic community. But anyone can get a stick and prick tattoo because people have been getting hand tattoos for thousands of years now.
To note: A standard tattoo machine produces several hundred punctures in the skin to transfer the ink. On the other hand, the stick-and-poke method only allows up to 20 pokes in the skin, to transfer the skin by hand.
How long do hand tattoos last?
Are hand tattoos permanent?
The first thing people assume when they think of stick-and-poke tattoos is that they’re not permanent. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Stick-and-poke tattoos use the same techniques as any other regular machine-made tattoo. Just because there isn’t a tattoo machine that does the job doesn’t mean the tattoo won’t last.
A needle is used to transfer the ink into the dermis layer of the skin, just like in regular tattooing. Once placed in the dermis, the ink will stay there. However, since the technique of hand tattoos is not as sophisticated as that of a tattoo machine, the longevity of hand inking can be significantly affected.
But, assuming that hand tattoos are temporary is wrong and misleading to many people who are uninformed about this tattoo style. Of course, they don’t last a lifetime, but they certainly won’t disappear in one to two weeks like temporary tattoos do.
How long do hand tattoos last?
It’s safe to say right off the bat that a stick-and-poke tattoo won’t last you a lifetime. As we mentioned, the hand-punching technique is not as sophisticated as the regular tattooing process. As a result, hand-pricking can cause the ink to misplace in the skin and overall make it last less than a regular tattoo.
On average, a handmade tattoo can last between 5 and 10 years, if you’re lucky. If a tattoo is done by a professional tattoo artist and properly cared for afterwards, it can last up to 10 years, that’s for sure. However, if a tattoo is done by an inexperienced tattoo artist or an amateur, you are looking at a maximum of 5 years.
Do Stick-and-Poke Tattoos Fade?
Now, one of the main issues with hand tattoos is that they tend to fade and lose their original appearance after a few years. It is because of the placement of the ink in the skin or the lack of proper tracking. Either way, discoloration can be a major issue, especially for people who expected their tattoo to last a long time.
Many stick-and-poke tattoos result in a tattoo blowout due to improper ink placement in the skin (the ink is placed too shallow or too deep in the skin, resulting in a blowout , swelling and premature discoloration).
Not to mention, lack of proper aftercare can lead to the usual tattoo complications like swelling, inflammation, and infection, which also contribute to premature discoloration.
When done by a professional artist, your tattoo will be less likely to get infected and the tattoo artist will provide you with proper aftercare instructions. However, when done by someone inexperienced, there is a high chance of using dirty or contaminated tools and contributing to the infection later on.
How can I make my tattoo last longer?
As we mentioned, one of the best ways to ensure that your tattoo will last more than a few years is to have it done by a professional tattoo artist. However, that’s not the only thing you can do to extend the longevity of your new ink;
- Choose the location of the tattoo wisely – to ensure that the tattoo will last longer, try not to place it in a place that is frequently washed, cleaned, exposed to the sun and rubbing clothes/skin. For example, tattoos done on the hands, fingers, and feet are known to fade prematurely due to the aforementioned factors. Go for an area where the skin is thick and non-tender, such as the thighs, biceps area, maybe even the abdomen area.
- Choose a professional tattoo artist – while it may seem fun, spontaneous and adventurous at first to get tattooed on a whim by a budding amateur tattoo artist, it is often the opposite later on. Getting a tattoo done by a professional will not only ensure that your tattoo will last longer, but also that you will not suffer any adverse effects from contaminated tools and the environment.
Professionals know what they are doing, specifically how they need to prick the skin to make sure the ink is in the dermis layer. It takes knowledge, practice, and experience to know how to tattoo, so keep that in mind.
- Follow the right aftercare routine – after getting any tattoo, it is important to take care of it properly until it heals. A new tattoo is basically like a fresh wound, so it needs to be protected at first. Later, you need to let the tattoo dry so that a new layer of skin can form. There will be crusting, itching and general discomfort until the tattoo heals. However, it is essential not to touch the tattoo, peel it or expose it to sun and water.
- Avoid using petroleum jelly and petroleum-based products – at some point during the healing process, you will start applying lotion to the tattoo, once or twice a day. However, it is essential not to use petroleum jelly or petroleum based creams and lotions. These will clog the pores, prevent the skin from breathing and prolong the healing process. Ultimately, the use of petroleum-based products can also lead to tattoo infection.
Stick-and-poke tattoos are really interesting and can look amazing with the right design and execution. Each stick-and-poke tattoo is unique and has a special artistic feel, so it’s no wonder that more and more people are interested in the style of hand tattoos.
If you are one of them, be sure to get a good look at these tattoos and how they are done. And, of course, always go to a professional for more questions and a tattoo appointment.
Getting a tattoo can be fun and exciting when done right. When an amateur or an inexperienced person makes a tattoo on your hands, you can face many health problems later, and there is no reason to expose yourself to such problematic situations.
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