Planning for a stick-and-poke tattoo? Here’s what you should know

stick-and-poke tattoo
stick-and-poke tattoo

The stick and poke tattoo is also known as machine-free, or hand-poked tattoo, it is a very trendy kind of tattoo. It is the 21st century and any person looking to try out a DIY (do it yourself) tattoo opts for the stick-and-poke kind.

What is a stick and poke tattoo?

Once you hear “stick-and-poke”, a weird, unsafe, and dangerous image of this tattoos’ process is imprinted in your head.

A stick-and-poke tattoo involves applying ink into the skin with the intention of creating a long-lasting or permanent tattoo. Most times, the creation of a tattoo design requires the aid of any electricity. But, the stick and poke tattoo or DIY tattoo as it is also called can be done without the aid or use of any electricity.

While other kinds of tattoos are created using a machine, the stick-and-poke tattoo is created with the use of a single sterile tattoo needle, which is attached to a stick.

To finally create a tattoo design, the needle is dipped into ink and is poked into the skin severally to create dots and then, the design.

Different tools and methods can be used by many cultures for the stick and poke tattoo which is really admirable. You will be surprised that these tools range from bamboo, sticks, and even sharpened animal bones.

Most at times, the stick and poke tattoo is done at home in a carefree manner, especially with friends who want to try new things. The end result is usually a less refined and roughly aesthetic tattoo compared to the tattoos done by professionals, using a machine.

What you will find in a typical stick and poke tattoo is a small and simple design that can be done even by you, but, you have to use the right equipment and be totally prepared.

The stick and poke tattoo is trendy and to be honest, it shows no sign of extinction in the years to come. Celebrities like Rihanna, Cara Delevingne have stick-and-poke body art which they show off proudly.

What is its origin?

You may be wondering what is the origin of the stick-and-poke tattoo or who even started it.

Well, the hand-poke process originated from non-electric forms of tattoo that were done traditionally, among different cultures across the world: usually related to community or religion. On the other hand, the single needle and ink process was used in ancient Egypt centuries upon centuries ago, say more than 3000 years ago. Mummies were found to have very complicated tattoos on their arms, shoulders, and abdomen.

However, the stick-and-poke tattoo done today is associated with the skate and punk subculture of the 1970s, where making use of a sewing needle plus an Indian ink to DIY a tattoo was popular.

Where to get a stick-and-poke tattoo

To avoid infection or disease, a well know and reputable artist that makes use of high-quality, sterile tools and ink, must be considered. There are lots of reasons why people get a stick-and-poke tattoo for an aesthetic appreciation, a deep feeling of connection to the tattoo, or because they prefer it to a tattoo done with a gun.

When choosing a place to get tatted, ensure the environment is clean and the tools are sterilized.

Will it hurt?

You are wondering if a stick-and-poke tattoo will hurt just because it involves poking a needle right into your skin.

Well, sticks-and-pokes hurt differently for each person just like a machine tattoo. The pain usually depends on the placement of the tattoo, design, and pain tolerance of the individual involved.

Some people find the pain to be excruciating or worse than a tattoo done using a machine. While others find the pain to be mild.

It all balls down to personal preference or what you can cope with. Would you prefer one needle slowly moving into your skin moderately or, lots of needles quickly moving into your skin at once?

stick aand poke tattoo

How long does it last?

One of the things people fail to understand is how long a stick-and-poke tattoo lasts on the skin. The truth is if a stick-and-poke tattoo begins to fade or reduce in its quality, it just means the person who did the tattooing on you was inexperienced or carried out wrong procedures.

As long as the artist makes use of safe, sterile tools and knows how to do the sticks-and-pokes perfectly, you can be rest assured that your tattoo will last for a very long time.

How do you take care of a stick-and-poke?

Stick-and-poke aftercare is not different from the aftercare for a machine-done tattoo. Whether machine or needles, the aftercare is still the same. A stick-and-poke doesn’t tend to scab and only needs a short time to heal. Chances are your artist will wrap your tattoo after it is done and if they don’t, simply wrap your fresh tattoo by yourself for more than 2 hours.

After wrapping and unwrapping, wash the ink with a gentle and unscented cleanser. You can then moisturize it with Aquaphor or any lotion specifically intended for tattoos.

A daily routine should be to wash and moisturize the tattoo twice a day till it is fully healed- for about two weeks or even less.

Ensure that your tattoo is kept out of the sun, and do not put it in water during the duration of healing.


Stick-and-pokes are a great and trendy kind of tattoo that can be explored. Depending on your preference, they can be painful or not. Associated with this kind of tattoo, is a feeling of aesthetic pride. When thinking of a kind of tattoo to try out, you can start with the sticks-and-pokes. You may end up preferring the needles to the machines.