Can You Use Sharpie Ink For Stick And Poke Tattoos!

Our content may have affiliate links that can result in commissions for qualifying purchases, full details in our privacy policy.

The popularity of tattoos is currently growing at an exponential rate and although body art using a tattoo gun is still the most popular option by far, more and more people have started to get stick and poke tattoos over tattoo gun tattoos. Due to this, we have noticed a huge increase in the number of questions that we see about stick and poke tattoos each month and although we have already covered some of them, we want to take a look at if you can use Sharpie ink for stick and poke tattoos or not.

Due to the Sharpie marker brand being so popular all over the world, it is only natural that people look to use them Sharpie ink for their stick and poke tattoo. Although we would always recommend that our readers use an actual stick and poke ink that has been specifically designed for the process, some people have used Sharpie ink as an alternative with mixed results.

We already have an article going over six of the more common stick and poke tattoo ink alternatives as well as a dedicated article taking a look at if India ink is safe for tattoos due to India ink being one of the main options for stick and poke. That said though, we did want a dedicated article going over stick and poke tattoos with marker pen ink as so many people have reached out about it.

Can You Use Sharpie Ink For Stick And Poke Tattoos!

Just because you can use Sharpie ink for a stick and poke tattoo does not mean that you should. We know that a number of people do use Sharpie ink as well as the ink from other popular marker pen brands for stick and poke tattoos and share the artwork on social media. These photographs that are shared are usually just after the tattoo healing process has completed where the ink is at its best and the tattoo has not started to fade due to poor quality ink being used.

If you search around on social media enough you are able to find some photographs showing how much a Sharpie ink tattoo is able to fade in as little as only six months and this alone should be enough to put most people off. Actual stick and poke tattoo ink is a much better option and is usually much cheaper than most people initially think with it usually costing less than a pack of Sharpies anyway.

In addition to this, India ink is another very popular option and although it will also fade when used in a stick and poke tattoo, it tends to last much longer than a Sharpie based stick and poke while holding its detail much longer too. If you are considering using India ink instead of Sharpie ink or real tattoo ink for your stick and poke tattoo then you should read our article comparing India ink to tattoo ink.

How Long Do Sharpie Stick And Poke Tattoos Last?

A stick and poke tattoo using Sharpie ink can start to fade within months with the tattoo losing both color and detail considerably by the one year anniversary. Although Sharpie ink can have a high rejection rate during the scabbing phase after your tattoo causing a spike in fade, the gradual fade over the rest of the year quickly catches up. This tends to make the body art look like a random collection of colors due to the detail in the tattoo fading out so individual links are difficult to make out and colors blend togeather.

Another factor at play is that a bunch of people will simply use a needle that hasn’t even been sterilised correctly for their stick and poke tattoo causing the scabbing phase to be worse than it has to be with more ink being rejected by your skin. Although you are able to use a cheap stick and poke tattoo set to drastically reduce the chances of this happening, the Sharpie ink will still tend to start to fade within the first year.

You have to keep in mind that ink fade is very common with stick and poke tattoos in general when compared to a tattoo completed with an actual tattoo gun. Even a professional, traditionally done stick and poke tattoo can start to fade in as little as five years where as the vast majority of them will have started to fade by the ten-year mark. Due to so many people who do stick and poke tattoos being amateur tattoo artists, they have done extremely well if your tattoo last as long as that though.

What Will My Sharpie Tattoo Look Like When It Fades?

A Sharpie tattoo can fade down to being an indistinguishable splurge on your skin with minimal detail being visible often making people regret getting a stick and poke tattoo using Sharpie ink. Due to the nature of Sharpie ink, it can be very difficult to have it removed by the current tattoo laser removal procedures too usually meaning that you are left with this mark on you for the rest of your life.

That said though, there are a few factors that do come into play that can make the fading considerably worse than it has to be when using a Sharpie. The main issue with a stick and poke tattoo, no matter what kind of ink you actually use for the body art is that the actual needle is usually not sterilised and puts bacteria into the skin making the scabbing phase after the initial tattoo much worse than it has to be.

This results in more ink being rejected by the skin during the scabbing phase than would normally be causing the tattoo to fade and lose more detail. This can be stopped by cleaning the needle correctly prior to the tattooing process or by using a cheap stick and poke tattoo set that has been properly cleaned but the tattoo will still scab and fade a small amount.

Can You Get Ink Poisoning From A Sharpie?

There is a misconception that Sharpie ink is not toxic and that it will not cause you any issues if you use it for a stick and poke tattoo and this is not correct at all. Every type of ink has a slight toxicity level to it and regulations for brands to mark their ink as “non-toxic” require them to test it if injected, if it gets in your eye, or if it gets on your skin with there being no requirement to test what happens if the ink gets poked into your skin.

This is why you can see so many marker pen brands such as Sharpie rightfully market their inks as non-toxic as it passes all of the testing for its intended use. As the Sharpie marker range has never been designed for use as an ink source for stick and poke tattoos, the toxicity levels of their ink were never tested when penetrated into human skin.

Although we have noticed a number of reports from people claiming that they have got ink poisoning from a stick and poke tattoo when using Sharpie ink, the actual amount of ink required to be the cause is huge. In our opinion, the more likely solution is that they are mistaking ink poisoning as an infection caused by unsterilized tools being used for the stick and poke tattoo or due to improper aftercare of for your tattoo resulting in issues.

Should You Use Perfume For Your Sharpie Stick And Poke Tattoo?

Due to a number of viral videos on TikTok and other social media sites, a number of people have been asking about using perfume with their Sharpie ink for a stick and poke tattoo. This should NEVER be done and the videos showing the use of perfume are for a temporary tattoo, NOT a stick and poke tattoo so there is no penetration into the skin with the perfume method.

We can’t stress this enough as the potential risk and number of issues with the tattoo increase drastically if you start to add other potentially toxic substances to it such as perfume. We have seen some of the videos for the temporary tattoos that do make it unclear that the tattoo in the video is just a temporary tattoo so we can see where this confusion comes from.


That brings our article going over if you use Sharpie ink for stick and poke tattoos to a close. As you can probably guess at this stage of the article, we would highly discourage anyone from using Sharpie ink for a stick and poke tattoo for the various reasons covered above. If you do want a stick and poke tattoo then we would recommend that you go to a professional tattoo artist who has the correct equipment in a sterilised environment to the best possible results.