Stick and Poke Ink: The Basics

Everyone wants their stick and poke tattoo to look clean, neat and to last for a long time. The ink you use for your hand poked tattoo will affect these elements, so it’s important to choose wisely. You might have heard of people using pen ink for their stick and poke tattoo, but this isn’t what we recommend. Firstly because the ink isn’t sterile, but also because the quality isn’t great, meaning it won’t last very long. We know that for a lot of people, the appeal of stick and pokes is the DIY element, but it’s important to still take the relevant safety precautions seriously. 

Because of this, we recommend using professional ink for your hand poked tattoo. The main reasons being that it’s affordable, good quality and sterile. There’s a wide range of professional inks available so let’s talk you through the basics, including the different types, storage tips and general usage tips too. 

Ink types

When it comes to stick and poke ink types, there’s two main types. These are called ‘stable pigment-based’ and ‘pre-dispersed’. Stable pigment-based inks are the less commonly used inks of the two, as they have to be mixed before use. Whereas when you buy pre-dispersed inks they’re ready to use straight away, but make sure you always shake the bottle well before use. We recommend using pre-dispersed inks for your stick and poke tattoo, as it’s good quality and easy to use. 

Ink components

Next, let’s talk about ink components. Stick and poke inks are made up of two main elements – pigments and carriers. For pigments, you can get either vegetable-based, metal-based or plastic-based, which appear as powder particles with different sizes – depending on the ink. Pre-dispersed inks have very fine particles. The carriers in inks are super important for hygiene and to make sure everything is evenly mixed. They disinfect the ink and make sure it’s pathogen-free. Carriers can be made up of water, surfactants (glycerine, propylene glycol) or hamamelis water. 


Now that you know the basics of stick and poke inks, let’s show you some products. There’s a wide range to choose from, and our friends at Single Needle stock a handful of them. Scroll down to read more. 

Stick & Poke Ink

Stick & Poke Ink is a great choice as a high quality, pre-dispersed ink with a smooth consistency. This ink has been developed over several years to perfectly suit stick and poke tattooing. They’ve recently added a lot of new shades to their range too, including primary pinks, tropical blues and many more. If you’re after a good quality black ink to create solid lines, they also have a black liner. To view their full range, click here. 

How to store your ink

Now you’ve had a chance to look at some ink, here’s our top tips on how to store it once you’ve bought some.

  • Keep your ink away from freezing conditions. This can separate the different chemicals and alter the quality of your ink
  • As well as freezing conditions, keep your ink away from direct sunlight and high heat. As this can dry up your solution
  • Use your ink before the expiry date. If there isn’t any information regarding this, we recommend using your ink within the first six months. This way you’ll get the best quality from it
  • Make sure your ink bottle is fully sealed before you use it. If it looks like it’s been tampered with, do not use it
  • After you’ve used your ink, tightly close the lid to keep the air out and wipe away the excess ink with a sterile cloth

Our top tips

Here’s our top tips for safely using your inks once you’ve bought them. 

  • Always shake your bottle well before use, even if it’s a pre-dispersed ink, to make sure everything is mixed properly
  • Avoid touching your ink bottle with gloves that have been in contact with the fresh tattoo or any of your equipment. This will help to prevent cross contamination
  • Pour your ink into little ink cups, instead of putting your needle directly into your ink bottle. Again, this will help prevent cross contamination

We hope you’ve found this blog post useful and that you now feel more clued up on stick and poke inks. As we said earlier, we think professional, pre-dispersed inks are the best option due to their affordability, hygiene and quality. At the end of the day, you want your tattoo to look it’s best and using a good quality ink will help you to create a solid, long lasting stick and poke. 

If you have any ink tips or advice, comment below. 

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