Can You Use Sharpie Ink For Stick and Poke Tattoo? Know the Answer

The demand for tattoos is growing day by day over the last decade. Though using a tattoo gun is still in the top position, stick and poke tattoos attract people more nowadays. That’s why the tendency of utilizing any ink lying around is also noticeable among users.

But what about Sharpie ink? Sharpie is a permanent marker brand that people have been using for decades. And professional artists use Sharpie markers to create beautiful art pieces on various surfaces, including paper, cardboard, etc.

However, there is a controversy of Sharpie ink safe for skin or not.

So, Can you use it for an “alternative” style of tattooing known as stick and poke tattoos? There are mixed opinions on this topic, and I’ll walk you through the answer so you can make your own decision!

And suppose you’re looking for an alternative to using a regular tattoo gun. In that case, this article will explore whether the Sharpie ink can be used or not.

What is Stick and Poke Tattoo
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What is Stick and Poke Tattoo?

Stick and poke tattoo is a type of manual method that has been used for ages. The process involves using a sharp object or needle to pierce the skin where the ink will be injected.

This way, it’s more humane than the traditional one, which uses multiple needles for injecting ink in large amounts at once, causing immense pain.

You may use different objects like knitting needles, safety pins, etc., to make your stick and poke tattoos, but the most common are sewing needles.

They are cheap, readily available everywhere, making them a preferable choice among artists worldwide over other objects mentioned above.

But it would help if you held that sharp object with a stick holder so you can work without any problem.

Since this method needs fewer tools than the professional tattooing method, it’s becoming famous as the DIY Tattoo Method.

Though it doesn’t penetrate the skin as the tattoo gun does, it can cause severe infection if you don’t sterilize the tools and the area properly. But it becomes permanent as the tattoos are made with the actual tattoo gun.

However, it has some safety precautions as it’s a form of non-electronic tattooing. That’s why we always recommend getting it done by professionals. 

Now, you may think about what type of ink to use with it. So, let’s focus on the following parts to get to know more about it.

Inks That You Can Use with Stick n Poke

We all know that professionals use tattoo ink for electric tattooing methods used with a tattoo gun. But it’s a common question that which ink to use with the hand-poked tattoo method. So, here I’m giving you two safe options to use with the stick and poke.

Tattoo Ink

Yes, if you are using a tattoo machine to get inked, it’s the best option. Professionals and dermatologists have tested actual tattoo ink and approved them as safe inks that can be used with hand-poked tattoos.

Since both of the methods are similar, so there isn’t any problem with their compatibility. 

However, the composition of commercial tattoo ink may vary from brand to brand. Still, all of them are safe, and the price is also reasonable. You’ll find two varieties of this ink – pigment-based and pre-dispersed inks.

But stable pigment-based ink isn’t as popular nowadays. So, you can go for the pre-dispersed as it’s easy to use and needs only a solid shake.

India Ink

Well, for the hand-poked tattoo, you can use “India ink” as well. It’s a traditional and one of the most popular ink types used for tattoos made by the needle. But you’ll need to ensure that it doesn’t contain any impurities like iron oxide or calcium carbonate because they are not suitable during the tattoo process.

It provides rich colors which fade slowly due to high pigmentation concentration. Still, after some time, it may cause allergy on the skin if you’re allergic to this type of ink naturally.

That’s why always go with professional help when choosing ink for your stick and poke tattoos. Otherwise, there may be complications later on too!

However, Indian ink is natural, non-toxic, and carbon-based, making it suitable for DIY tattoos. But it would be best if you got it done by professionals.

So, Can You Use Sharpie Ink for Stick and Poke?

Finally, I’m coming towards the answer to “Can You Use Sharpie Ink For Stick and Poke?”

Well, answering shortly, you can’t use Sharpie markers ink to create body art, whether hand-poked or machine poked. That’s because the ink has a different composition than tattoo inks.

Sharpie permanent markers contain n-propanol, n-butanol, diacetone alcohol, cresol, and sometimes xylene. And all of these toxic solvents are very harmful to the human body.

Even if you inhale the Sharpie smell, you may feel dizziness, headaches, vomiting, and other short-term problems. You’ll find a detailed article about the effects of markers on the skin on our website. You can check that out if you want to know more.

However, if the ink goes inside the layer of skin and mixes into the bloodstream, it can cause serious health problems. Even ink poisoning can create chronic health problems like kidney and liver disease.

The company doesn’t also suggest its use for temporary tattoos. Though it is labeled non-toxic, it’s true only when you use it on paper or other similar surfaces.

So, it can’t be used as an ingredient for creating tattoos, whether by hand or machine.

That’s why don’t try to make it at home without expert guidance. We always recommend seeking help from professionals only if you want to get rid of your old spots and blemishes! Otherwise, you’ll end up with skin infections which may cause scars later on.


Though I’ve mentioned India ink to be safer to use, it can still cause allergic skin reactions or infections if you don’t use it properly. Don’t forget to sterilize the area and tools properly to avoid health issues. And Sharpie, the brand itself, doesn’t recommend their ink to be used on the skin.


Q: What ink can you use for a stick and poke?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, you’ll find so many brands of tattoo ink that you can go for stick and poke. It’s the type of ink used in the professional tattooing method. This ink is totally safe to use on the skin.

However, other non-toxic India ink like – Winsor and Newton is also great to use. Remember that whatever ink you use must be non-toxic and certified to use on the skin. We also recommend getting a stick and poke tattoo done by a professional tattoo artist and not using any toxic inks like pen or Sharpie ink.

Q: What happens if you use normal ink for stick and poke?

It can be highly dangerous for you if you just use any ink lying around for hand-poked tattoos. Though these tattoos don’t go deep inside the skin, just like the machine used tattoos, but these can still be harmful if you use normal ink.

In fact, you’ll find people walking around with blotchy tattoos that won’t fade but the result of using inappropriate ink. Even you may face different allergic reactions or infections if you don’t use appropriate ink for tattoos as it goes inside the skin.

However, you can easily use tattoo ink and India ink to stay away from any health issues. So, forget about any normal ink! 

Q: How long do a stick and poke tattoo last?

It’s well-known that tattoos won’t last forever. But if you compare the stick and poke with the traditional tattoo method, it’ll last less than the latter one. The main reason for it is, hand-poked tattoos cannot be done as finely as regular tattoos. Even the ink doesn’t go that deep into the skin and can be misplaced.

So, for a stick and poke tattoo, you can expect a lifetime of up to 10 years if you get it done by professionals and can handle it with care.

On the other hand, you can expect it to last for 5 years maximum (if you are lucky enough) if you get it done by amateur tattoo artists. So, the decision is yours! [source]

Q: Can you use Sharpie ink for a tattoo?

It’s actually today’s main topic, and I’ve tried my best to explain the fact in this whole article. Some people think it’s toxic, and some people think it’s safe.

But the truth is, it’s not safe for your skin to make a tattoo. And I’ve mentioned the fact above clearly that why you can’t use it.

Long story short, Sharpie contains different types of harmful chemicals that will create serious health issues due to skin absorption.

Though they claim it to have non-toxic ink, that is only true for external contact and not for cosmetic uses. So, be careful about the fact and stay away from Sharpie Tattoo.

Final Words

To conclude this article, I want to say that if you’re thinking of using Sharpie ink for tattoos, then forget about it. It’s not safe and can cause serious health issues like rashes, infections, etc.

But if you want to get a tattoo done at home with the help of some DIY methods or non-toxic inks lying around your house, we recommend India ink as an option. However, always try to go with pros when doing anything related to body piercing and tattoos!

So, I hope this article helped you out because that’s what we wanted from our side. Do revisit us anytime soon, and don’t forget to share your experiences!

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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