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How Long Do Stick and Poke Tattoos Last?

by  Kin Liu -  Last updated on April 6, 2021

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Whether it’s for cultural reasons or you are interested in trying out different tattooing techniques, you’re thinking about getting a stick and poke tattoo.

This tattooing technique has been around since ancient times with the Egyptians. To this day, it is still a part of indigenous cultures across the world. Just like with regular, machine operated tattoos, stick and poke tattoos can also fade with time.

There are a few factors that go into the longevity of a stick and poke tattoo and we decided to investigate further on what that entails.

What is a Stick and Poke Tattoo?

It is a technique that has been passed down since ancient times, utilizing hand-made body art. The artist will use his or her own strength to puncture the skin repeatedly to create a larger picture.

It’s a time consuming process that requires patience, but the results can be stunning when done by the right person. It is possible to do it yourself, but that is not usually recommended. Searching online, there are DIY kits you can buy and step by step instructions, but we suggest going to a professional for your first time.

In other cultures, the artist will use something to hold the needle in place like bamboo or just wrapped in thread. You should know that these tattoos won’t last as long as machine created ones.

There are many things that factor into this such as where the tattoo is placed, how experienced is the artist, and what type of needle and rig are they using?

Upon further research we found that stick and poke tattoos can last a while, but it all depends on the factors surrounding your stick and poke tattoo experience.

What to Keep in Mind:


Where you decide to get your tattoo will play a big factor on how long it lasts. This is because there are some places on your body that just get less friction than other places. For example, getting a stick and poke on your finger and hand will only last a couple years before fading.

This is because the area is consistently being washed and used whereas a tattoo on your back or chest will experience less of that friction. You have to consider the heavily washed parts as well as the parts that will be constantly facing the elements.


It’ll take a confident hand to ensure a successful stick and poke tattoo. If the needle goes too deep then there’s risk of tattoo blowout. The blurring happens when the ink has been pressed below the skin layer.

Then, if the artist wielding the needle doesn’t press deep enough, the ink will fall off and the tattoo will fade much more quickly. They’ll have to repeat the lines on the tattoo to make sure the ink comes through and stays put.

Choose somebody who is experienced and takes extra care to have sterile instruments. Doing your due diligence when finding a tattoo artist is worth the time because the end result will be much more professional and safe.

Equipment Used

If you’re looking for the highest quality tattoo, then finding someone who uses professional equipment is imperative. There are those who like to do homemade stick and poke tattoos with sewing needles.

It can work, but it is a dangerous method of DIY tattooing with a higher risk of infection or disease. Sewing needles just don’t offer the same picture. This is because the points of the needles aren’t like the professional needles, which are specifically made to penetrate the skin and create a design.

The ink is not deposited in the same way because the sewing needle isn’t sharp enough to go further into the skin causing it to be more painful and less effective altogether. Another thing to remember is the ink that is being used.

Pen ink just won’t cut it with longevity as well as safety in terms of germs and bacteria. If you do plan to DIY be sure to use professional or India ink whilst being mindful of your tool sterilization.

Needles that are recommended are called RL (round liner) and RS (round shaper). These are professional tattooing needles that were made to puncture and draw on the skin. The round liner is more used towards detailed images that require thin intricate lines.

The round shaper can be used towards more thicker and less delicate lining as well as creating more geometric shapes. These needles are much better quality than using sewing needles and come well recommended to beginning tattoo artists.

How to Make Them Last Longer

Hopefully, your design comes out looking amazing and you want to keep it vibrant for as long as possible. There are ways to lengthen the longevity of your stick and poke tattoo and it begins with your aftercare.

A tattoo is an open wound and will suffer at the mercy of germs and open air. With that being said, after receiving your tattoo be sure to wash it, disinfect it, and wrap it in protective tattoo film or saran wrap if you’re doing a DIY. In a few hours, wash it again with antibacterial soap and pat it dry. If you are not sure, how long to keep your tattoo wrapped or covered, we recommend reading our brief guide for further help.

Do not rub or scrub the healing area! It takes time for the skin to heal and it’s important to be patient. Apply a healing ointment, preferably natural, to the skin at least once a day. You mustn’t let it become too dry for fear of itchy and scabby skin.

If you do find yourself wishing to pick the scabs or itch, self control will be key here. Don’t forget to take care when going outdoors. Make sure the tattoo is concealed safely and apply sunblock to protect the skin.

Following the steps and tedious care of your healing process will really make a difference in your tattoo’s longevity. Of course, when the time comes and your tattoo begins to fade, you can always head on back to the shop and get it re-inked. 

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