Do stick and poke tattoos hurt more or less than machine tattoos?

Most of the people who have tried both techniques in a similar placement say that hand poke tattooing hurts less, some say way less. However, that depends entirely of the pain threshold of each person.

Stick and poke tattoos and machine ones differ entirely in both style, technique, duration, and of course, results. But, a common question among people is “Do hand poke tattoos hurt more or less than machine tattoos?”. Well, the truth is, it depends on a variety of factors such as the location of the tattoo, the artist, and the size of the tattoo, among others.

While some say that DIY tattoos hurt less than machine ones, everyone is different. No person’s pain threshold is the same and, while some may find them less painful, others may find the experience more uncomfortable.

Lavender stick and poke tattoo

The Difference Between DIY Tattoos and Machine Ones

As mentioned above, stick and poke and machine tattoos are different in many ways. The two styles offer varying sensations, thus impacting the level of pain a person feels during each. Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors that could have an impact on the level of pain you feel during each type of tattoo.

The Technique

While the process of a stick and poke tattoo and a machine one both involve penetrating the skin to insert ink permanently under the dermis, the way this is done differs between the two techniques. With a machine tattoo, the needle is powered by a motor that makes it go up and down a lot faster. This means that the person tattooing can use the machine like they would a pen, drawing smooth lines across the skin.

With a stick and poke, you have to individually hand poke dots into the skin to create lines. Because of this, the sensation is completely different. With a machine, the feeling resembles that of a scrape on the skin while with a stick and poke, you will feel the individual punctures.

The Environment

When tattooing with a machine, the environment feels different as it produces far more noise. Because of the motor, a tattoo machine is very loud in comparison to a stick and poke which makes no noise whatsoever. With this in mind, it’s easier to create a more relaxing environment during a DIY tattoo. Today, there are studies that prove that creating a peaceful atmosphere could influence a person’s pain perception.

Tiny sprout stick and poke tattoo

The Duration

It’s important to note that a stick and poke tattoo takes considerably longer than a machine one. This is the case regardless of the design and its size. What takes 20 minutes with a machine can take hours with the stick and poke technique. But, this doesn’t mean that one hurts more than the other. While the tattoo will take longer with the stick and poke technique, the experience is far less invasive so you may find it more comfortable depending on your individual pain threshold and the area you’re tattooing.

The Healing Process

There is a lot of discussion online surrounding the healing process of both machine and DIY tattoos. Assuming you undertake the correct safety precautions to avoid infections and use the right tools, a stick and poke tattoo is less traumatic to the skin, meaning it can heal a lot faster than a machine one. These types of tattoos also involve less scabbing and, therefore, less discomfort during the healing process.

Hand poked flowers on the forearm.

Everyone Is Different!

A person’s pain threshold depends on a huge variety of factors. From genetics to age, gender, illness, stress, past experiences, and expectations, no two people have the same pain tolerance. With this in mind, it is almost impossible to say which tattooing technique hurts most. The only way is to find out for yourself by getting a tattoo using each technique. From there, you’ll be able to say which technique hurt the least for you.

Location Is Key

Regardless of the technique you choose or the design you want inked, the location of your next tattoo will have a huge impact on the amount of pain you feel. Areas with thicker skin or more fat typically hurt less. For example, the thighs, calves, and arms. On the other hand, areas like the ankles, wrists, ribs, hips, and spine are far more painful. Aside from the fact that the tattooing happens closer to the bone, some of these areas are also closer to nerves, directly impacting the sensation of the tattoo.

Interested in getting a stick and poke tattoo? If so, check out our online store to find out more about the various DIY tattoo kits we offer, all of which include needles, ink, and the various pieces of equipment you need to create a safe inking environment from the comforts of your home.