Here’s how long your stick and poke tattoo will really last
1st October 2020

The boho trend that gives you fresh ink without the electric needles — stick-and-poke tattoos — is a favorite among the underground-culture scene, and now seasoned tattoo artists. These types of ink can vary from a full-fledged piece of art to more simple designs like dots. Commonly referred to as a “non-electric” tattooing method, stick-and-poke tattoos involve taking a machine-grade needle, “dipping it into ink and then poking it into the skin” — one poke at a time (via Byrdie).

Non-electric tattooing dates back to Ancient Egypt and, more modernly, 1970’s skate-punk subculture, according to Glamour. Its recent ascent to popularity may have more to do with social media than ancient civilizations, however. Tattoo artist Jenna Bouma told the outlet of the trend, “In a historical sense, non-electric tattoos have been used as a status marker, an expression of beauty, and an open act of rebellion. It was and still is important to certain cultural groups. But what truly has made this form of tattooing popular in a modern sense is Instagram.”

But, before you try this at home, it’s important to know that stick-and-poke tattooing can be dangerous if the needles and equipment aren’t fully sterilized. Make sure that you go to a reputable artist with high-quality materials when you’re looking to get some stick-and-poke ink done.

Just like a regular tattoo, stick-and-poke tattoos are permanent

Just because you aren’t using an electric needle when getting stick-and-poke ink, doesn’t mean that the process is any less permanent than a regular tattoo — especially if you get it done by a professional. If a stick-and-poke design starts to fade, it’s more than likely due to user error rather than an issue with the practice as a whole (via Byrdie). If done properly, the stick-and-poke tattoo will likely heal faster than an electric needle tattoo, you just need to keep up with the after-care routine as needed.

According to tattoo artist Jenna Bouma, people who get stick-and-poke tattoos generally report less pain than those who opt for the traditional method, per Glamour. “The simple answer: less pain, takes longer to craft, heals fast,” Bouma explained. Since stick-and-pokes only involve one needle at a time — as opposed to the multi-needle application of mainstream tattoos — and this may make the difference. However, the practice still involves a needle and your bare skin, so you will experience mild discomfort at the very least. 

Just make sure to research a professional who is familiar and trained in this type of art before you get your ink done. Since the practice is relatively unregulated, it’s important to find a salon that’s well-versed in sterilization and care protocols.

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