How Long Do Stick and Poke Tattoos Last?

Would you like to relive the past and get a stick and poke tattoo from a cultural community, but you're not sure whether your new ink will stand the test of time?

In this article, we discuss exactly what you need to know about how long your stick and poke tattoo should last, and what factors may affect its longevity.

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How Long Do Stick and Poke Tattoos Last

What Are Stick and Poke Tattoos?

Stick and poke is an ancient tattooing technique used to create hand-made body art. The artist applies his or her own strength to puncture the skin with a needle. This method has been used throughout the history of tattoos, up until the invention of the first electrical machine in 1891.

For thousands of years, different cultures across the globe used tattoos. They were often included in ceremonies and rituals to mark events such as births and deaths. Any occasion could become a reason to decorate the body with ink. Sometimes this was even for therapeutic purposes.

Although this way of tattooing often results in very abstract designs, it can be adapted to different styles. Random patterns are easier for the artist to create than life-like pictures. Smooth lines, which can be easily done by machine, are harder to do with the stick and poke method.

Text can be tricky, though not impossible; it may not look as finished as it would if done by machine. The result may appear more rustic, which, depending on personal preferences, may actually be a more appealing look.

To be done well, this traditional tattooing method ideally requires a bit of experience from the artist. But technically, anyone can do a stick and poke tattoo. Many may recognize it from the schoolyard. It’s also commonly done in prison.

Although I do not recommend it, all you really need is a needle and ink. There are even do-it-yourself kits which you can buy online.

Across the world, cultures still use the stick and poke technique. Various items are used to hold the needle. In some places they use bamboo sticks, while others simply wrap it in thread.

During the stick and poke tattoo application, the artist dips the needle in ink and pokes the skin repeatedly. The idea is to create tiny dots which together form the larger image.

This procedure is quite time consuming, but the results can be stunning in their own unique way. These tattoos are sometimes described as being quirky or youthful.

How Long Do Stick and Poke Tattoos Last on Average?

Most stick and poke tattoos generally won’t last forever. They are not as long-lasting as machine tattoos, but certainly last longer than transfers or even henna tattoos.

The exact length of time before these tattoos disappear depends to a large extent on where they are applied. Hand and finger designs often fade within a few years since we wash these places regularly. Areas like the arms and chest will last longer

The experience of the artist is another determining factor. With stick and poke tattoos, the artist must often repeat the lines several times for the ink to show through and stay put. Inexperienced artists may go too deep or not deep enough, causing the tattoo to fade prematurely.


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Deciding whether or not to get a stick and poke tattoo isn’t easy. While not permanent, they can last for many years. You should always be aware of the risks, and take necessary precautions. Choose an experienced tattooist and make sure that all of the tools are sterile.

How to Make Them Last Longer

Sometimes we get a stunning design that we would want to keep forever. Fortunately, it is possible to extend the life of a stick and poke tattoo further.

It is possible to create longer lasting stick and poke tattoos. This generally requires an artist who knows the technique and uses proper ink. The wrong ink can lead to adverse reactions.

Once applied, there are simple ways to make the tattoo last longer. These generally come down to proper aftercare. You should never let the area get too dry. Apply thin layers of moisturizer at least once a day, even after the area has fully healed.

The best tattoo lotion I've ever personally used is a (vegan) tattoo aftercare product called Hustle Butter. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process - not only to keep your tattoo really well hydrated, but it's also very good at soothing that annoying itching and irritation.

During the days immediately following the application, keep the area clean and avoid scratching or irritating the skin. Take care when you’re outdoors. Use a sunblock every time you intend to expose the tattoo to sunlight, or cover it with clothing if possible.

As I mentioned, the placement and size of the tattoo can determine how long it will last. Small squares or circles on the fingers or wrists (which are very popular) generally begin to fade within a few years. Larger pieces placed on areas such as upper arms or the chest have longer lifespans.

Of course, when your tattoo begins to fade, you can always get the lines re-inked. Many choose this option to rejuvenate the look of their stick and poke design.

 

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