6 Stick And Poke Ink Alternatives [Are They Any Good?]

Stick and poke tattoos are becoming trendier each day, with people’s growing interest in them. The primary reason is that you can DIY it at your home. It also gives people the opportunities to get creative with the art of tattooing, one of which is trying out a tattoo with the stick and poke ink alternatives.

There are several ink alternatives for stick and poke tattoos, such as India ink, sharpie ink, graphite, eyeliner, BIC pen ink, and food colors.

Today’s article will walk you through the process of using those alternatives. Just for the record, the general recommendation is to use the actual stick & poke ink colors. So, I am discussing the other options so that you get the necessary information, learn about the pros and cons to calculate their worth, and make a well-thought decision.

Stick And Poke Ink Alternatives

6 Stick And Poke Ink Alternatives

1. India Ink

It is one of the most popular stick and poke tattoo ink alternatives. The reasons are that it is non-toxic, cheap, and produces decent results. Oh. I almost missed the best part. You can make it easily on your own. People have been using this ink for various purposes for as long as 2000 years. For some of the last hundred years, it got recognized to be used for tattooing as well.

That being said, it does not imply that you should use India ink just because people have been using it for tattoo purposes forever. You can avail of the better options instantly available at an affordable price. Besides, India ink is prone to fading and does not do well with retaining details because of its inconsistency caused by the needle pressure during the procedure.

2. Sharpie Ink

According to the experience of many individuals, Sharpie ink works really great as an alternative to stick and poke tattoo ink. Most Sharpie ranges are non-toxic and popular for different arts and craft works.

Every ink is toxic to some extent. But their effects on your tattoo ink while you are drawing the tattoo are negligible enough to be categorized under non-toxic materials. But do not think that it will also apply when you get a needle and push the tattoo ink into the skin with that. That will have repercussions because you did not sterilize the supplies before using them.

Sharpie Ink

Even then, it is not my suggestion to go for Sharpie ink. Steer clear of it as long as you can.

Why? Because Sharpie ink fades considerably faster than regular tattoo inks. The detail retention is also poor. Yes, that could also happen with usual inks. But the consistency is too unworthy of giving it a try. There are countless pictures online of tattoos made with Sharpie ink. You can check and see for yourself within a sec if you google.

3. Graphite

Using graphite pencils for tattoos has become one of the famous stick-and-poke ink alternatives, especially in prison, where the inmates can find it without much hassle. As one should expect while using it, the tattoo will have a color more like silver than solid black. Later during the healing period, the skin may reject lots of graphite.

Graphite Pencils

That will cause the tattoo to fade substantially within the first three or four weeks. It means that the details of your tattoo will lose chunks of it as the tattoo fades in its first year. You will not even find them there anymore, although the tattoo will vaguely be there.

And that makes room for another problem. Lasers cannot break down graphite. They only work with ink. So, if you want to remove your graphite tattoo, chances are you may not.

4. Eyeliner

Eyeliner is another alternative to stick and poke tattoo ink. The most convenient thing about it is that it is always available. While it might seem totally harmless, it is not. It will cause excessive scabbing right after you complete your tattoo. That is because the skin is not tolerant of it.


When the scabbing shows up, it will push most of the eyeliner out of the skin, which will affect your tattoo drastically. Sadly, it does not depend on your skill and talent. It is not like you can get it right if you have it done by a professional. The alternative ink is at fault here. It will ruin the details and colors, eventually making you regret ever having the tattoo in the first place.

5. BIC Pen Ink

Here is one that might sound a bit hopeful to you. The ink of BIC pens works as a source of stick and poke ink alternatives. Surprisingly, it gives you better colors and retains the details well.

If you have sensed a ‘but’ coming your way, you are right. Most BIC pens are oil-based. Putting oil-based ink into the skin for a piece of body art raises the chances of catching potential health problems.

BIC Pen Ink

Let me put it simply. They are not toxic when you use them for crafts in general. But it becomes a matter of concern when you think of injecting them into your skin.

About removing them – it will not be smooth, but it is feasible. The BIC ink particles are not as tiny as that of the actual stick and poke tattoos. So laser treatments cannot crush them easily. But there are modern laser therapies to help you with it. They will require more sessions and charge you extra.

Read More: Can you remove tattoo without laser treatment?

6. Food Colors

Food Colors

This is somewhat a rare alternative option, but people do use it often. I cannot tell you if they are absolutely non-toxic. However, that matters little here because it is not effective at all. You will lose all the colors of your tattoo as long as you move toward the healing process because of scabbing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to do a stick and poke at home without tattoo ink?

We strongly advise against using anything other than professional tattoo ink for stick and poke tattoos. Using alternative inks or materials can lead to infections, allergic reactions, or poor-quality tattoos. If you still choose to proceed, ensure that the area is clean and sanitized, and use a sterilized needle. However, it is best to consult a professional or use professional tattoo ink for a safe and high-quality tattoo.

What ink to use for stick and poke?

The best ink to use for stick and poke tattoos is professional tattoo ink. It is specifically designed for tattooing and is tested for safety and quality. Avoid using alternative inks such as pen ink, India ink, or homemade inks, as they may not be safe for your skin and can lead to infections or other complications.

What pens have non-toxic ink?

Some pens are labeled as non-toxic, such as those made for children or art supplies like water-based markers. However, non-toxic ink in pens is not intended for tattooing and may still cause skin reactions, infections, or other complications when used for stick and poke tattoos. It is always best to use professional tattoo ink for tattooing purposes.

Final Words

So, those were the six stick and poke ink alternatives. I am ending here with a note of friendly reminder. My goal in writing the article was to inform you about the drawbacks these alternatives have. Yes, they allow you to become creative and give your tattoo a raw look. They are also non-toxic, so there is no hard and fast rule that you cannot use them.

But the final result may not pay you off. And if you do not like it, you will have a hard time finding a proper removal solution for it. All of it undeniably suggests that it is better if you stick to the actual tattoo inks.

That’s that for now. Thanks for reading!

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