Many consider stick-and-poke tattoos to be mainly done in a DIY manner. Because of this, it is only fair to worry about the duration of such a homemade tattoo. But, the same question always comes up, with regular tattoos or hand-poked tattoos done by a professional tattooist.
So, how long do these poked tattoos last? A year? Few months? Are they even permanent? If you’re thinking about getting a stick-and-poke tattoo, it is important how long will the ink last you, so you can determine whether the tattoo is worthy of your time and money.
Therefore, in the following paragraphs we’ll take a look at the hand-poked tattoo longevity and what can you do to make these tattoos last even longer.
Stick-and-Poke Tattoos: A Quick Summary
If you’re reading this, chances are you already know what stick-and-poke tattoos are. However, if you don’t know, here’s a quick overview.
Stick-and-poke tattoos are handmade, machine-free, done with a special contraption using a tattoo needle or a similar, sharp object. Because hand-poked tattoos don’t always require a needle and can be done with sharp, think objects, they are infamous for being done in prison and generally done by amateurs.
Because of the poking, sometimes even when done by professional, hand-poked tattoos almost always end up looking homemade. They do not have the sophistication of a standard tattoo.
Nevertheless, when done by a professional tattoo artist, stick-and-poke tattoos can be truly unique and special. Nowadays, hand-poked tattoos are known to be a form of special expression, generally by people who are more on the alternative, underground, artsy community side of things. But, anyone can get a stick-and-poke tattoo, as people have been getting hand-poked tattoos for thousands of years now.
Note: A standard tattoo machine produces several hundred pricks into the skin to transfer the ink. On the other hand, the stick-and-poke method only allows up to 20 pokes into the skin, to transfer the skin by hand.
How Long Do Hand-Poked Tattoos Last?
Are Hand-Poked Tattoos Permanent?
The first thing people assume when they think of stick-and-poke tattoos is that they’re not permanent. In reality, this couldn’t be any farther from the truth.
Stick-and-poke tattoos use the same techniques as any other regular, machine-done tattoo. Just because there is no tattoo machine doing the work, doesn’t mean the tattoo won’t last.
A needle is used to transfer the ink into the dermis layer of the skin, just as in the regular tattoo. Once placed in the dermis, the ink will remain there. However, because the technique of hand-poked tattoos isn’t as sophisticated as that of a tattoo machine, the longevity of the hand-poked ink can be significantly affected.
But, to assume that hand-poked tattoos are temporary is wrong and misleading to a lot of people who are not informed about this tattoo style. Sure, they don’t last a lifetime, but they surely won’t disappear in one to two weeks as temporary tattoos do.
How Long Do Hand-Poked Tattoos Last?
It is safe to say right from the start that a stick-and-poke tattoo won’t last you a lifetime. As we mentioned, the hand-poking technique isn’t as sophisticated as the regular tattooing process. As a result, the hand-poking can make the ink misplaced in the skin and overall make it last a shorter period compared to a regular tattoo.
On average, a hand-poked tattoo can last anywhere between 5 and 10 years, if you’re lucky. If a tattoo is done by a professional tattoo artist and properly taken care of after, it can last up to 10 years, for sure. However, if a tattoo is done by an inexperienced tattooist or an amateur, you’re looking at 5 years max.
Do Stick-and-Poke Tattoos Fade?
Now, one of the main issues with hand-poked tattoos is that they have a tendency to fade away and lose the initial appearance after a few years. That is because of the ink placement in the skin, or the lack of proper aftercare. Either way, the fading can be a major issue, especially for people who expected their tattoo to last a long time.
Many stick-and-poke tattoos result in a tattoo blowout due to improper ink placement in the skin (the ink is either placed too shallow or too deep into the skin, resulting in a blowout, swelling, and premature fading).
Not to mention that lack of proper aftercare can lead to the usual tattoo complications, like swelling, inflammation, and infection, which also contribute to premature fading.
When done by a professional artist, your tattoo will be less likely to get infected, and the tattooist will provide you with proper aftercare instructions. However, when done by someone inexperienced, chances are they’ll use dirty or contaminated tools and contribute to the infection later on.
How Can I Make My Tattoo Last Longer?
As we mentioned, one of the best ways to ensure your tattoo will last longer than a few years is to have it done by a professional tattoo artist. However, that is not the only thing you can do to prolong the longevity of your new ink;
- Choose the location of the tattoo wisely – to ensure the tattoo will last longer, try not to get it somewhere that is frequently washed, cleaned, exposed to the sun, and clothes/skin rubbing. For example, tattoos done on hands, fingers, and feet are known to fade prematurely due to the aforementioned factors. Go for a location where the skin is thick and not sensitive, like the thighs, the bicep area, maybe even the abdomen area.
- Choose a professional tattoo artist – even though it may seem fun, spontaneous, and adventurous at first to get tattooed on a whim by some amateur tattoo-wannabe, it is often the contrary later on. By getting a tattoo done by a professional, you will ensure not only that your tattoo will last longer, but also that you won’t experience adverse effects due to contaminated tools and the environment.
Professionals know what they’re doing, especially the way they need to poke the skin to ensure the ink is in the dermis layer. It takes knowledge, practice, and experience to know how to tattoo, so bear this mind.
- Follow the proper aftercare routine – after you get a tattoo, of any kind, it is important to take care of it properly until it heals. A new tattoo is basically like a fresh wound, so it needs to be protected at first. Later, you need to let the tattoo dry out so that a new skin layer can form. There will be scabs, itching, and general discomfort until the tattoo heals. However, it is essential you don’t touch the tattoo, peel it or expose it to sun and water.
- Avoid using Vaseline and petroleum-based products – at some point during the healing process you will start applying lotion onto the tattoo, once or twice per day. However, it is essential not to use Vaseline or petroleum-based creams and lotions. These will clog the pores, prevent the skin from breathing and prolong the healing process. Ultimately, the use of petroleum-based products can lead to a tattoo infection as well.
Stick-and-poke tattoos are really interesting and can be amazing with the right design and the right execution. Every stick-and-poke tattoo is unique and has a special artsy feeling to it, so no wonder an increasing number of people are getting interested in the hand-poked tattoo style.
If you’re one of them, make sure to get a proper insight into these tattoos and how they’re done. And, of course, always go to a professional for more questions and a tattoo appointment.
Getting a tattoo can be fun and exciting when done properly. When an amateur or an inexperienced person does a hand-poked tattoo, you can deal with a lot of health issues later on, and there is no reason to expose yourself to such problematic situations.