Is stick and poke tattooing hygienic and safe?

The short answer is yes, stick and poke tattoos are hygienic and safe as long as they’re performed the right way with the correct equipment.

By Sugar Angel. source

You may think it’s questionable to poke ink into your skin on your dining room table but as long as you do it responsibly, there is no reason the process should put you off. In fact, with practice, and for non complex and small tattoos, you could achieve the same results as those you’d expect in a professional studio.

Stick and pokes get a bad rep because people often use household items to perform them. Worse yet, some do it under the influence of alcohol, meaning they don’t take the right precautions or level of care when performing them. Luckily, if you get up to date with health and safety precautions, there is no good reason you can’t start inking from the comforts of home. Here are some tips to help you on your way:

Duck stick and poke tattoo by Lindsay. source

Use Professional Equipment

Professional equipment is the key to a good tattoo. If you were thinking of using a sewing needle and pen ink, think again. These household items will not only leave you with a tattoo that looks bad but, you may also get an infection. Simply burning the tip of your sewing needle may not be enough to kill bloodborne pathogens and other bacteria. And, if that’s not enough, pen ink is highly toxic and shouldn’t be inserted into your skin if you can avoid it. Instead, use professional tattoo needles and ink to create your stick and poke designs.

Make Sure the Equipment Is Sterilized or Disposable

It’s all well and nice to use professional equipment but if it’s not sterile, you’re still at risk of contracting an infection. The equipment you use should either be sterilized in a professional autoclave or better yet, disposable. Every time you finish a tattoo dispose of your needles at a medical waste disposal facility and make sure to use new equipment for each new tattoo.

Rock salute stick and poke tattoo by inked girly 92. source

Get Familiar With Health and Safety

Health and safety should be your best friend if you want to stick and poke hygienically. Aside from using professional and sterilized equipment, you should make yourself aware of your surroundings and how clean they are. This is because tattoos involve a high risk of contamination, both in the form of bacterial infections and the spread of bloodborne pathogens.

Each time you get ready to ink, wipe down all of the surfaces around you and put down a disposable protective sheet. Then, wash your hands and forearms, and put on a pair of fresh nitrile gloves. You also need to clean the area you’re going to tattoo with an alcohol wipe and shave any hair from the area to avoid infections.

Remember, once you’re done, dispose of your sharps and bio-hazardous materials in the correct way. You can find out more about the rules and regulations in your state or country by doing a quick search online.

Hand poked flower holding hand by Hungry Designs. source

Choose Equipment from a Reputable Manufacturer

Today, there are thousands of illegitimate companies selling so-called tattoo materials. Unfortunately, they’re often of low quality and made of chemical-based materials that have a high level of toxicity. With this in mind, you should always buy your equipment (specially the ink and the needles) from a reputable manufacturer.

If you choose to order a professional tattoo kit online, double-check that the supplier only includes equipment that is sourced from reputable manufacturers.

Consider Any Issues that Could Interfere With the Process

Before you tattoo yourself or your friend, it’s important that you take everything into consideration. If you are feeling under the weather, have a skin infection, or suffer from allergies, you may want to think twice before starting your stick and poke. A weakened immune system can increase your chance of infection. You may also not be as alert or focused when tattooing which further increases the risk of spreading harmful bacteria while also affecting the quality of your final design.

Hand poked finger tattoos by LucyB source

Practice, Practice, Practice!

We’ve talked about hygiene at great length but safety through experience is just as important! You may believe that the worse that can happen from lack of experience is a bad looking tattoo but, you’re mistaken. Without practice, you could go too deep into the skin which can lead to tattoo blowout, and in more severe cases, keloid scarring. This form of scaring is often raised, tender, and may interfere with movement if you’re tattooing too deeply on a joint. Later trauma to a keloid scar can also increase the risk of localized bacterial infection.

With the above in mind, you may want to practice tattooing on fake skin before you move onto yourself or your friends. Practice skin will allow you to get a feel for the process and will teach you how deep you should go when tattooing.

If you’re not sure where to get your individual pieces of equipment from, why not opt for a professional tattoo kit? We offer a range of kits, all of which include professional needles, inks, and all of the necessary health and safety equipment you need to ensure your stick and poke is as hygienic as possible.