At some point a couple of years ago, the freckles look became very desirable. Gone are the days of covering them up – in fact, a huge trend is creating artificial ones! When clients asking for freckle tattoos started showing up in tattoo parlors, artists were surprised. But they quickly perfected several methods of tattooing them, and stick and poke freckles became a very sought-after service.
But what hides behind this funny name? Let’s find out what stick and poke freckles are, how they’re done, what they look like, and how long they last.
What Are Stick and Poke Freckles?
Stick and poke freckles are a form of tattooing faux freckles on the face.
These cute little tattoos are created by breaking the skin on your face in tiny dots that imitate the shape of natural freckles, and depositing pigments (or inks) a couple of shades darker than your complexion inside. Stick and poke freckles can be placed anywhere on the face, but since natural freckles usually appear on the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, that’s where most clients want them.
If done by a skilled tech, when these marks heal, they can look ultra-realistic.
Image source: YouTube Screenshot YoKaia
How Are Stick and Poke Freckles Done?
You may be familiar with the basic method of tattooing freckles – with a machine and PMU pigments, but stick and poke is somewhat different.
The stick and poke method is a traditional form of tattooing that implies poking the skin with a needle, not an electric tattooing device. While PMU will generally use a PMU machine to create freckles, tattoo artists do them with a larger needle.
The needle is dipped into a PMU pigment or a tattoo ink mixed to match your complexion, taking its undertone into consideration. PMU pigments are a safer choice, as they heal into more natural shades and have a more consistent fade over the years, but an experienced tattoo artist can mix tattoo inks to look just as natural.
The spot where your future freckle will be placed is poked with the needle a couple of times. It’s important to get the depth right – the needle should only reach the upper dermis layer. If it doesn’t go deep enough, the color won’t be retained and your freckles won’t last out longer than a month. If it goes too deep, the spots may spread or fade into a weird shade.
The poked spots are covered with drops of the pigment, which is left on for a few minutes to let the skin soak it up. And that’s it!
Does It Hurt?
This is a tough question to answer, since everyone has a different definition of pain, but generally, most clients don’t complain too much. The needle might look scary, but its tip is very thin and it goes very shallow into the skin, so it will feel more like stinging or pressure than straight-up pain.
How Long Do Stick and Poke Freckles Last?
Stick and poke freckles generally last up to 2 years. There’s no significant difference between stick and poke freckles done with a PMU pigment and those done with a tattoo ink; they will fade at about the same pace.
The skin of the face is exposed to sunlight more than any other area of the skin, it’s thoroughly washed at least once a day, and a whole lot of skincare products are applied onto it. Combined with the skin’s natural cell turnover cycle, all these cause the freckles to fade within 2 years.
Are Stick and Poke Freckles Safe?
If done in a sterile environment by a professional, and if you take some extra care of the area until the cuts heal to prevent infection, yes, stick and poke freckles are completely safe.
One thing to note, though, is the possibility of an allergic reaction to the pigments/inks used. That’s why you should always have a patch test done before the procedure, to make sure your skin doesn’t react to them before you have them implemented into it.
Are There Any Side Effects?
There are some immediate side effects, but it’s nothing serious. Since the delicate skin of the face is poked over and over again, there will probably be some redness, tenderness, and minor swelling in the hours after the procedure. As the cuts heal, there may be some itching and light scabbing.
It’s important to follow the aftercare advice your artist gives. They’ll instruct you on how to clean the area, what to avoid in the days after the procedure, and whether you should moisturize the area or not.
Not really a side effect, but we should warn you that your freckles might look too dark at first. Give them a few days to settle into their true shade – they’ll lighten up.
Image source: YouTube Screenshot Beauty Insider
I Don’t Want a Large Needle Poking My Face! Are There Any Alternatives?
Since you’re reading this text, you probably want a more permanent version of faux freckles than just drawing them on with a brow pencil. Luckily, there are 2 more ways to create longer lasting faux freckles: henna freckles, and machine application of freckle tattoos.
Henna freckles are a non-invasive, topical, DIY, semi-permanent method of creating faux freckles. It’s very simple – you just apply tiny dots of henna wherever you want them, let it sit for a while and then wash them off.
The henna stains will stay on the skin for up to 7 days, depending on your skincare routine and how oily your skin is.
For more information on henna freckles and a tutorial, check out this guide.
Image source: Instagram @estelle.esthetics
Machine Freckle Tattooing
Freckle tattoos can be done with a PMU pen – a small electric device that features a cluster of very fine needles that pierce the skin in dots. Very similar to the stick and poke method, most clients are more comfortable with machine application.
Both methods give the same results, though.
So if you’re looking for more info on freckle tattooing regardless of application technique, check out this article.
Image source: Instagram @whitcraftbeauty
Remember, the point of stick and poke freckles is for them to look as natural as possible. Natural freckles are never completely symmetrical on both halves of the face, so freckle tattoos should be free-handed, so to say. A trick that tattoo artists have come up with when creating stick and poke freckles is to place a couple of them around the eyebrows. So when your artist starts placing your freckle tattoos, try not to be too controlling. They will assess what’s the most natural-looking placement.
Cover image source: Freepik