6 Stick And Poke Tattoo Ink Alternatives!

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Stick and poke tattoos have seen a surge in popularity over the last year or so and we have noticed a correlating surge in the various questions relating to stick and poke tattoos. Although we have already published a number of articles going over some of the questions, we have seen a recent spike in the number of people reaching out to ask for stick and poke ink alternatives.

Due to this, we have decided to publish this article going over six of the more commonly used stick and poke tattoo ink alternatives. In our opinion, you should always use a reputable stick and poke tattoo ink for your stick and poke tattoos as it helps to drastically reduce the downsides that can occur with some of these alternatives while also being at a similar price point.

We know that a large number of people do their own stick and poke tattoo work in their own home too and this is also something that we recommend against. You should always have your tattoo work done by a professional who has correctly sterilised equipment who works in a clean environment. Not only does this help reduce the potential issues to your health but can also offer a number of benefits for your tattoo such as reducing fade and maintaining detail.

Stick And Poke Ink Alternatives!

As we touched on earlier, we always recommend that our readers stick to an actual stick and poke tattoo ink. Although we are going over a number of alternatives that some people do choose to use, we actually recommend AGAINST using any of them and this article is more for information purposes to go over the drawbacks of using the alternatives.

Stick And Poke Tattoo With India Ink!

India ink is definitely the most common stick and poke ink alternative partly due to decent, non-toxic India ink being so cheap as well as it being so easy to make your own India ink at home. India ink has been used for various things for over 2000 years with their being evidence of it being used for tattoo work for hundreds of years.

That said though, just because India ink has been used for stick and poke tattoos for so long does not mean that you should be using it when you have better options readily available to you that are just as cheap. India ink tends to suffer from color fade as well as have issues with detail retention too due to the inconsistency in the pressure of the needle when doing stick and poke tattoos.

We actually have an article online going over if India ink is safe for use for tattoos as well as an article going over an India ink vs tattoo ink comparison that may be worth reading. A short version of both articles is that it is always better to use an ink specifically designed for use with tattooing over India ink though. Another advantage of using an actual tattoo ink is that it is much easier to reliably remove via tattoo removal treatments in the future if needed too.

Stick And Poke Tattoo With Sharpie Ink!

We have seen a surprisingly lager number of people say that they use Sharpie ink as a stick and poke ink alternative and we would highly discourage you from doing this. Although the ink used in most of the Sharpie range is listed as non-toxic, this is when used for arts and crafts and sufficient testing has not been done on the inks when used for stick and poke tattoos.

All ink has a small level of toxicity and the effects of the ink getting on your hands when you drawing with it is small enough to be listed as non-toxic. This does not mean that the same will be true if you use a needle to push the ink into your skin and we have seen a small number of reports of adverse reactions. This could be due to the actual needle not being sterilized correctly prior to use though but we would still recommend you avoid using Sharpie ink for tattoos.

There are plenty of photographs of the body art that people have had done using Sharpie ink online that you are able to go and check out if you wish. They all tend to have issues with color fade in a relatively short period of time when compared to actual tattoo ink as well as problems with detail retention. Although both of these could be due to the skill of the tattooist as well as the cleanliness of their tools and environment, the consistency of the issues is enough to put us off using Sharpie ink for tattoos.

Stick And Poke Tattoo With BIC Pen Ink!

A small number of people report using BIC pen ink as their alternative to actual stick and poke tattoo ink for their body art and although this does tend to have better color and detail retention, we would still not recommend it. The majority of the pens in the BIC range are oil based so you are actively putting and oil based ink into your skin when using it for your stick and poke body art causing a number of potential health hazards.

Just like the Sharpie range, although some of the BIC range has been marked as non-toxic, this is when rated against general arts and crafts with the ink getting on your skin, not being injected into it. We go into this in more detail in our article on if BIC pen ink is toxic but the short version is, the ink can have issues when injected into your skin with a stick and poke set.

The ink particles in BIC pen ink tend to be larger than usual too making it harder to have any stick and poke tattoo done using the ink removed via laser treatments in the future. Although the more modern laser treatments can break the ink down, it does take more sittings increasing the time and cost required to remove them if needed.

Stick And Poke Tattoo With Eyeliner!

Some people have used eyeliner for their stick and poke tattoos and we would highly recommend against doing this. From what we can tell, using eyeliner as an ink alternative tends to have a high rejection rate from your skin causing excessive scabbing directly after having your stick and poke tattoo work done.

This scabbing tends to result in large portions of the eyeliner being pushed back out of your skin having a drastic effect on the actual tattoo. Even if the tattoo artists who completed the work has talent and skill in tattooing, both the color and the detail will suffer from the scabbing process and the actual tattoo tends to look terrible after the initial healing process.

Stick And Poke Tattoo With Graphite!

Using a graphite pencil for stick and poke tattoos has become increasingly popular for prison tattoos due to graphite pencils being easier to get when in prison. As you can expect when using graphite, the tattoo tends to have a slight silver look to it rathe than being a solid black and large amounts of the graphite can be rejected from your skin during the healing phase too.

This results in the tattoo work fading substantially over the first few weeks and graphite tattoos are notorious for fading after the initial scabbing subsides too. This means that large chunks of the detail in the tattoo can fade within the first year making the detail in the tattoo difficult to see although it will be obvious that you once had one.

At the time of writing, we are unaware of any laser based tattoo removal process that can work with a graphite tattoo either due to the laser treatments being designed to break down ink, not graphite. This means that a large number of people who have graphite tattoos have them on their body for life with minimal detail in the tattoo.

Stick And Poke Tattoo With Food Coloring!

Although rare, we have also seen some people try to use food coloring as an alternative for their stick and poke tattoo ink. Although we are unaware of the toxicity levels of the food coloring, it tends to perform very badly for a tattoo anyway with a large amount of it being lost during the scabbing phase after the initial tattoo.

As you can probably guess from the alternatives covered above, with large amounts of the food coloring being rejected from the skin, this then results in drastic color fade as well as causing issues with detail retention too. If the equipment used during the stick and poke tattoo has not been cleaned correctly prior to use then this can end up causing even more of the food coloring to be rejected making it look even worse too.


That brings our article going over six stick and poke ink alternatives to an end. We hope that you have found our article helpful and that we have been able to make you aware of the downsides of using these alternatives for stick and poke tattoo work. With modern tattoo ink being so cheap it is just as easy for you to purchase actual ink that has been designed for use in tattoos up as it is to get any of these alternatives so we would always recommend that you take that option.