Are Stick-And-Poke Tattoos Safe?

Stick-and-poke tattoos are done without the aid of an electric tattoo machine. Instead, they involve hand-poking ink into the skin with a sterile needle. According to Byrdie, the technique originated from more traditional forms of non-electric tattooing dating all the way back to ancient Egypt. However, stick-and-poke tattoos became more popular in modern-day society with the emergence of the punk scene in the 1970s.

Stick-and-poke tattoos can last just as long as a machine tattoo if done correctly. When using this technique, a tattoo artist must stick the needle into the skin deep enough in order for the ink to last permanently. Sticking the needle in too deep, however, can ruin the design and make the lines blur together (via Byrdie). Not unlike traditional tattoos, getting a stick-and-poke tattoo may hurt — though your pain may vary depending on your pain tolerance as well as the placement and intricacy of the design you choose.

They are safe when done properly

Despite common misconceptions, stick-and-poke tattoos are perfectly safe when done correctly by professional tattoo artists. As long as the needle is sterile and the environment is clean, a stick-and-poke tattoo is no riskier than a machine tattoo. If done incorrectly, however, stick-and-poke tattoos can lead to further complications, like infection and injury.

According to Healthline, tattoos performed with unsterile equipment can leave you vulnerable to harmful bacteria and increase the risk of a bloodborne infection. Improper tattooing techniques by inexperienced artists can also lead to scarring.

This is why it is so important to look for a reputable, professional artist before getting a tattoo. If your skin starts to swell or bleed excessively in the middle of a tattoo session, you should stop immediately and watch out for signs of infection. Common signs of infection include fever, skin abscess, severe redness and pain, pus, and swelling (via Healthline).