Tattoo At Home

A Complete Guide for Home Tattooing

At some point in our lives, we’ve all tried or at least considered getting tattoos at home- be it temporary using a normal pen or other permanent methods. Tattoos, a form of body part have seen a surge in popularity in recent times.

The stigma around body art, tattoos, and piercings has reduced in the last decade. What was seen as unprofessional in the last decade has been embraced today. So what is home tattooing? People who can’t afford professional services tend to be attracted to home tattooing methods. This is generally known as the ‘stick and poke’ method.

It involves dipping a sterile needle into ink (black or colored) and poke it through your skin to form the required design. As the process suggests, this method can be painful as it doesn’t offer the comfort of a needle gun that professionals use. The stick and poke method comes with several disadvantages. Just because it is cheaper doesn’t mean it’s safe. Individuals must take care of several factors before getting a tattoo at home.

Is it legal?

Home tattooing is not legal in many countries due to its health risks and unsafe procedure. While in India, no law criminalizes home tattooing, it is still important to be safe and consider all the health risks before deciding to get tattooed at home!

What are the risk factors?

If you’re not a professional tattooist, buying your home tattoo kit can be a difficult choice. It is important to consider various factors such as the quality and size of the needle. The quality and ingredients of the color used, and the general tattooing process. Since the colored ink is essentially entering your skin through the stick and poke methods, you need to ensure that the color used is safe and is of high quality. Using low-quality colors can increase the risk of post-tattoo skin infections.

Secondly, it can also cause severe allergic reactions if the color is not accepted by your body or made of chemicals that you’re generally allergic to. This involves itching, swelling, fluid buildup, and skin flaking. In extreme cases, using an unsterile needle can also increase the risk of infections such as AIDS. So make sure that you’re using a brand new needle and not sharing it with anyone. 

Initially stick and poke method can cause some bleeding since the needle is penetrating the skin layers but the bleeding is easily controllable and treatable. 

Home tattooing process

For home tattoos, tattoo preparation is more important than the tattooing process itself. Ensuring you buy chemically safe and dermatologically tested products is an important prerequisite of the hm tattooing experience. Make sure you check all the product labels carefully. You must know what’s good for your body!

Step 1:

Prepare your tattoo-making kit. This involves buying tattoo ink from a reputable brand, buying or making stencils with your desired design, and buying a tattoo needle. Do not get lazy and use an old needle, safety pins, straight pins, or sewing needles. These are not only dirty but will make the process more difficult and painful. 

Step 2:

Set up a tattoo station. You must set up a separate station even for home tattoos because your surroundings need to be disinfected. This will greatly reduce the chances of a post-tattoo skin infection or rash. Keep a non-permanent marker, a few cups for your tattoo ink, rubbing alcohol (to disinfect the tattoo area), and other miscellaneous supplies like gloves and warm water. Prepare your tattoo area by cleaning and shaving it.

Step 3:

Place your stencil over the tattoo area and outline it with a non-permanent marker. Using a stencil is preferable over free-hand drawing due to the stencil’s precision and accuracy. It is advisable to get a small tattoo with the stick and poke method. Sterilize the needle by holding it over a flame or candle. 

Step 4:

Start the tattoo procedure. Start by dipping the needle in the ink and then poke it into your skin. This should leave a tiny dot. Continue this step and work around your tattoo design till it’s complete. This step can be painful and may cause some bleeding. If the bleeding is excessive or doesn’t stop, stop tattooing immediately and seek medical help.

The stick and poke method isn’t as robust as the common tattoo gun method. Hence, the tattoo design may require 1-2 touch-ups so that the color and the design finally shine through and your tattoo is complete!

Once you finish your tattoo, make sure you gently clean the area with a water-soluble vegetable oil and glycerin-based soap. These soaps are gentle on your skin and will not cause any reactions. 

Perhaps the most important part of home tattooing is after-tattoo care. Even with tattoos made by professionals, after-care is a cardinal step towards getting an infection-free tattoo. Don’t apply petroleum-based jelly such as Vaseline since these can cause the tattoo ink to fade and can also cause infections due to its weight. Leave the tattoo open so that it’s exposed to sufficient oxygen. A tattoo is a wound and to heal it needs air and breathing space. 

How to remove a tattoo at home?

You can outgrow your tattoo. Tattoos may lose personal meaning as you grow and evolve. In a situation like this, getting the tattoo removed professionally may not sound like a viable option due to its costs. So, can you remove your tattoo at home? Professional tattoo removal procedures involve laser surgery, cryosurgery, and sometimes, surgical removal.

However, you can try to remove your tattoo at home using natural ingredients. Lemon juice and aloe vera are some of the most common ingredients used to remove a tattoo naturally at home. You need to essentially form a scrub using salt, apricots, or even sugar.

Salt is rich in chlorine and sodium while lemon juice has bleaching properties. Mix aloe vera, lemon juice, and salt and apply the mixture to your tattoo. Rub the tattoo area for 30 mins to an hour. This procedure can be long and painful if you rub too hard. It may also require repeated tries to fully remove the tattoo. 

Similarly, you can also use honey, salt, and lemon juice to create a paste and rub it against your tattoo area. Finally, you can also use a neatcell picosecond laser pen and try tattoo removal at home. While this is more expensive than natural ingredients, it gives faster results.

A downside of natural ingredients is that they don’t work for every skin type. They may not give a 100% result and can take a long time. Hence, if you are looking for a quick and error-proof solution, it is better to opt for a professional laser tattoo removal surgery.

How to get a tattoo establishment licensure?

Many tattooists sometimes practice tattoos on themselves or other people at home. In such a situation, it is best to get a tattoo establishment licensure. In India, the tattoo sector is unorganized and hence, loosely regulated. Many tattoo parlors offer tattoo training apprenticeship programs that enable you to become professional tattooists. To set up a tattoo license you will need to acquire a studio license first.

You will also need to get a tattoo assessment record. Requirements for tattoo artist licensure differ from state to state. However, you will need to complete an apprenticeship of at least three months. The National Skill India Mission, an initiative promoted by the Indian government, helps in acquiring the required licenses.

The license certification focuses more on compliance with the safety standards to protect customers. A written exam and skills assessment is also a requirement for obtaining a license. Following this, you can rent studio space and set up your establishment. Make sure your establishment complies with all the safety procedures since safety standard negligence is a serious offense and the owner of the establishment is liable to pay for the damages.  


The idea of home tattooing sounds enticing since it’s easier on the pocket. However, sometimes its risks overweight benefits, especially if you want to get a complex tattoo or suffer from some pre-existing skin condition or other health risks. The conventional stick and poke method indeed works but can be painful for many. While India doesn’t deem home tattooing illegal, many other countries do, and for valid reasons.

Hence, it is better to rely on a professional tattooist for the tattoo of our dreams! If you are an aspiring tattooist, don’t try tattooing yourself or others at home. Enroll in an apprenticeship program and learn under professional tattooists. Then get your license from NSIM and viola, you are ready to set up shop! The importance of being safe cannot be stressed enough when it comes to tattoos. So read up about tattoo procedures, after-care dos, and donts, and religiously follow them for a problem-free tattoo experience!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

● Do Tattoos Hurt? How to Predict and Minimize Pain

 The level of pain experienced while getting a tattoo differs among individuals. It depends on two factors- your pain tolerance and tattoo area. Some areas such as the ankle, heel, ribcage, and elbow hurt more since they are closed to bones and joints.

Conversely, other areas such as the arm are relatively less painful. Ultimately, the pain levels depend on your tolerance and ability to withstand pain. Pain can be minimized by staying hydrated while getting a tattoo, getting it through a licensed tattooist, and avoiding alcohol before getting a tattoo.

●      What is the youngest age you can get a tattoo

Only individuals above the age of 18 can get a tattoo. Getting a tattoo below the age of 18 not only requires parental consent but is also not advisable.

● How can I make a permanent tattoo at home without pain

    As described above, the stick and poke is a widely used home tattooing method. It involves using a sterile needle and dipping it in the tattoo ink. Then poke the needle into the skin to form a dot and trace it around your design. It is a more pocket-friendly option than professional tattoos but comes with some risks. 

● Do at-home tattoo removal lasers work?

      At-home tattoo removal lasers work at lower power than the devices you would find in a dermatologist’s office. Due to the safety risks involved, the low-powered laser devices may not give a 100% result. Tattoo ink may still be visible even after multiple attempts. Hence, seek professional services.

● Can you remove a tattoo at home?

      Many natural ingredients have bleaching properties. Since the tattoo ink is embedded in your skin, the power of natural ingredients is limited. The process may be lengthy but it may result in a fading of the tattoo.

● Does Vaseline fade tattoos?

      Creams and substances with petroleum jelly can result in the fading of a tattoo. That is why despite its moisturizing properties, tattooists don’t encourage the use of vaseline on a new tattoo. 

● Do lemon juice and salt fade tattoos?

Lemon juice is acidic and hence has bleaching properties. Salt, on the other hand, contains chlorine and sodium and hence, can help in fading tattoos. Both ingredients can be used together to create a paste. It works by exfoliating the skin and fading the tattoo.

● Can hydrogen peroxide remove a tattoo?

Combining exfoliation and hydrogen peroxide can help in removing a tattoo. While it can fade newer tattoos, it may remove old tattoos completely. However, hydrogen peroxide is extremely concentrated and must be diluted properly before use. It should strictly not be used on sensitive skin since it can cause rashes.

● Does tattoo removal cream work?

Tattoo removal creams have a very limited impact on tattoos. Since the tattoo ink is embedded in the skin, surface-level treatments are usually ineffective. The success of tattoo removal creams depends on the ingredients in the cream. 

● Does Neatcell remove tattoos?

Neatcell is a laser pen that can be used at home. For safety reasons, it has low power so it can fade tattoos but may not remove the tattoo fully.

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