The key to safely creating a good quality stick and poke tattoo is to prepare your setup with the correct, professional tools. Furthermore, organisation of your area is the best way to create a seamless process. Because no one wants to be awkwardly reaching for a product they forgot to get out, mid tattoo. To take the guess-work out, we’ve compiled a list of the top nine items you need in your setup. Including the links on where to buy them from.
Gloves and Apron
You’ve probably heard this many times before from us, but the key to stick and poke safety is hygiene and sterilisation. This is why it’s super important to put on disposable gloves and a disposable apron when you’re about to perform a tattoo. Furthermore, to avoid cross contamination, make sure your gloves don’t come into contact with anything else whilst creating your tattoo. When you’ve finished, it’s crucial you dispose of your gloves and apron. The safest way to take off your gloves is to not touch the outer layer of them. You can do this by turning them inside out as you’re taking them off. Watch a video on how to do this here.
It’s also key to keep the area you’re working in clean, including where your equipment will sit. You should use antibacterial spray for this, followed by covering the surface with a medical grade cover. These surface dressings have a paper surface to absorb fluids and a plastic base to prevent damage to the surface underneath. Once you’re ready, organise your equipment so everything is flat and easily accessible. This creates a seamless stick and poke process and avoids spillages.
Cross contamination can also occur from dipping your tattoo needle directly into your ink bottle. The way to avoid this is by pouring a bit of ink into an ink cup. If you’re using a few colours in a tattoo, you’ll need an individual cup for each colour. You can buy either disposable or recyclable cups, however if you’re using recyclable ones, they must be sterilised before use to avoid infection.
The needles you use for your stick and poke play a key role in how long your tattoo will last. You’ve probably heard of people using a sewing needle for their hand poked creations, however these are often blunt and aren’t sterile. We definitely don’t recommend this method. Instead, opt for professional needles which are sterile and much sharper. This means you’ll get a much more solid and precise line for your tattoo. There’s lots of different needle types available, such as round liners for outlining and magnum shaders for shading. To learn more in depth about tattoo needles and what the different types are used for, you can read our blog post on this topic here.
Hand Poke Tool
Professional needles are long enough to hold comfortably in your hand. However a lot of people prefer to use hand poke tools to compliment this. These are more chunky and wrap around the needle. This makes it easier to grip which gives the artist more control when poking. You can buy disposable tools or recyclable ones but as we said earlier, if you’re using recyclable items they need to be sterile to avoid infection. You can also buy tape to wrap around your needle as a tool for more comfortable grip. This tape is often sticky on the inside but not the outside, so if you’ve got long hair you don’t need to worry about it sticking to the tape when poking.
The ink you choose for your stick and poke is also a key factor that’ll decide how long it lasts. You’ve most likely heard of people using pen or India ink for their hand poked tattoos, but these aren’t sterile methods. We recommend using professional ink for your tattoo, as it’s sterile, good quality and affordable. To keep your ink in it’s best condition, keep it out of direct sunlight and freezing conditions. This can dry out and separate the solution. There’s so many colours available to buy, not just your standard black. Furthermore if you’re vegan, Intenze have made a Black Vegan Ink.
To take your design from paper to tattoo, you’re going to need some stencil supplies. You’ll need some tracing paper, stencil paper, a sterile marker and some stencil gel. The stencil markers are bold and quick drying. Meaning once it’s transferred onto your skin it’ll stay there throughout the tattoo process. Stencil gel is a great way to clean and prepare the skin and it’s also used as the transfer medium.
Having some sterile tattoo wipes to hand is crucial during the stick and poke process to wipe away excess ink. The S8 towels are a great alternative to paper towels. They’re condensed into a sealed packet to prevent cross contamination, meaning they’re safe and compact. Made from compressed, non-woven cotton fibre sheets, these towels are softer on the skin and more durable than paper towels. Simply wet the towel with water or a water-based soap to expand it and you’re ready to use it throughout the tattooing process.
Disposing of your needles correctly is super important for safety, so having a sharps bin is key. When you’ve finished your tattoo, place your needles in the sharps bin whilst still wearing your gloves. Then gather all of your used items and place them in another box that you can throw away, before carefully removing your gloves and adding them to your wastage box. It’s crucial to write ‘biohazard’ on the box so whoever comes into contact with it is aware. For details about disposal facilities where you can take your sharps bin, contact your local hospital or pharmacy.
Our friends over at Single Needle Tattoo have a wide range of tattoo supplies available, including everything we’ve mentioned in this article for your setup. To view their range of products, click here.