Is Sharpie Safe For Tattoo Stencils?

Is Sharpie Safe For Tattoo Stencils?

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Is Sharpie Safe For Tattoo Stencils?

A tattoo stencil is a simple and effective way to get an idea of your permanent tattoo’s appearance before you commit to the permanent ink.

These stencils can be made from paper, cardstock, or Adobe. They create a temporary outline of your tattoo design with the chosen medium before filling in that outline with ink.

You get a finished tattoo without any sharp lines on your skin and at a fraction of the cost of getting an actual drawn-on tattoo.

Using a Sharpie as a tattoo stencil is not a recommended or safe method due to several reasons.

Sharpies are not designed or intended for use on the skin. They are designed for use on non-porous surfaces such as paper, plastic, or metal, and the ink is not formulated for use on human skin.

The ink from a Sharpie may contain chemicals that can cause: 

  • Skin irritation. 
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Other health problems

Secondly, the ink from a Sharpie is not intended to be long-lasting. Sharpies are designed for temporary use and are not intended to be used as a permanent marker.

The ink may fade or smear quickly, which could result in a poorly executed tattoo.

Thirdly, using a Sharpie as a tattoo stencil may increase the risk of infection or other complications.

Sharpies are not sterile, and using a non-sterile tool on the skin can introduce bacteria or other harmful organisms, increasing the risk of infection.

Additionally, using a Sharpie may damage the skin or cause unnecessary trauma, which could lead to scarring or other long-term damage.

Choosing a reputable tattoo artist who uses sterile equipment and follows proper safety protocols is important if you plan to get a tattoo.

A professional tattoo artist will create a stencil using specialized tattoo ink and transfer paper, ensuring that the stencil is accurate, safe, and long-lasting.

No, Sharpie markers are not safe for creating a tattoo stencil. While they may seem like a convenient option, the ink used in Sharpie markers is not formulated for use on the skin and can cause irritation, allergic reactions, and potentially lead to long-term health risks.

Additionally, using a Sharpie marker to create a tattoo stencil can result in ink bleeding and smudging, making it difficult to create a clear and precise stencil.

Instead of using a Sharpie marker to create your tattoo stencil, I recommend using specialized tattoo stencil transfer paper and a skin-safe stencil transfer gel or liquid to create a clear and accurate stencil for your tattoo.

These products boast designed for use on the skin and will not cause any harm or irritation.

It’s important to prioritize safety and use only professional-grade materials and tools when creating tattoos to ensure the safety of yourself and your clients.

Stencil transfer paper and gel/liquid are best for creating a stencil for small and intricate designs, as the paper or gel is easy to manipulate, change, and adjust.

Is Sharpie Safe For Tattoo Stencils?

If you want to create a custom tattoo stencil from your design without using specialized products, I suggest using computer paper instead.

Computer paper will hold up better than standard notebook paper and will not smudge or bleed when adding stencil ink.

What Kind Of Marker Do You Use For Tattoo Stencils?

Felt Tip Marker-Rubs out easily.
-Fine point.
-Consistent flow of ink.
Tombow Dual Marker-Water-based tips.
-Blendable Colors.
-Dual tips.
Rollerball Pen-Water-based ink.
-Goes on smoothly.
-Blends well.
Gel Pens-Permanent pigmentation.
-Dries fast.
-Blends well.
Viscot Mini XL Purple Surgical Ultra Fine Tip Skin Scribe Markers-Finest Visco tip.
– Skin break-resistant.
– High fade proof.
MY/T NO.1 Professional Tattoo Marking Pen-Soft and comfortable rubber grip design, nonslip and convenient to operate.
– Ergonomic design, comfortable to hold.

Can You Use Vaseline For The Tattoo Stencil?

Yes! You can use Vaseline for tattoo stencils, but it’s not the best option for a temporary tattoo. This can be attributed to some issues.

Vaseline is a petroleum-based product that can clog pores and create a barrier on the skin. This can prevent the stencil ink from adhering properly, resulting in a blurred or incomplete stencil.

Additionally, the petroleum jelly in Vaseline can make the skin slippery, making it difficult for the artist to work with and potentially leading to mistakes during the tattooing process.

Another issue with using Vaseline for stencil transfer is that it can introduce bacteria or other contaminants onto the skin, increasing the risk of infection.

Vaseline is not a sterile product, and it can be difficult to completely remove any residue left on the skin after the stencil is applied.

However, Vaseline is commonly used as temporary tattoo ink, particularly by those with sensitive skin.

If you have tried other products with your stencil and have had an adverse reaction to the inks, opting for Vaseline for your next stencil might be a good option.

This will give you a great idea of how well the stencil transfers from paper to skin and whether you want it as a permanent part of your body art.

Can You Use A Pen Instead Of A Stencil Tattoo?

You can use a pen to create a temporary tattoo instead of a stencil. However, remember that the ink from a pen is not designed for use on the skin and may lead to irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals.

Using safe and non-toxic materials when creating any temporary tattoo is always best.

FactorUsing a penUsing a stencil
PrecisionLimited control may result in uneven lines.Provides a precise outline.
DurabilityMay fade quickly or smudgeLasts longer and stays in place
SafetyRisk of infection due to unsterilized pen.Sterilized equipment used for stencil application reduces infection risk.
TimeQuick and easy to draw on with a pen.Additional step of applying stencil may take more time.
ComplexityLimited ability to create intricate designs.Allows for more complex and detailed designs.

Why Do Tattoo Artists Use Sharpies On The Skin?

Tattoo artists may use Sharpies (or other permanent markers) on the skin for several reasons:

1. To Create a Temporary stencil: A tattoo artist may use a Sharpie to draw a temporary stencil on the skin before beginning the tattooing process.

This helps them to plan the design and ensure that the placement and size of the tattoo are correct before starting to ink.

2. To Make a Sketch: A Sharpie can be used in other ways besides as an outline on the skin. For example, they are useful for making rough sketches that are easy to change without damaging the skin’s surface.

3. To Create a Freehand Design: Artists may use Sharpies to create a freehand tattoo design.

This can include drawing stars or other designs inside of circles, squares, and triangles that are centered on the body part they want to tattoo.

This technique is particularly useful for tattooing curved body parts like the back and spine.

4. To Add Color: Color may be added back into Sharpie markings to create a darker or brighter shade of color.

5. To Remove Color that has been Added: Sharpies are adept at removing color from the skin.

Sharpies are designed to pick up the ink they have been used on, so they can “pull” ink or other tattoo colors off skin when they don’t work out.

6. To Mark the skin for an individual client or a group: Many artists have client groups that they tattoo together.

Sharpies make it easy to mark the skin for each person in the group so that there is no confusion about who is getting which tattoo.

What Do Tattoo Artists Rub On The Skin While Tattooing?

  1. Petroleum Jelly: A thin layer of petroleum jelly, also known as Vaseline, is commonly used by tattoo artists to help the tattoo machine glide smoothly over the skin. It also helps to reduce friction and prevent the needle from dragging or snagging on the skin.
  2. Aqueous Soap: Tattoo artists may use a gentle aqueous soap to clean the skin before and during tattooing. This helps to remove any dirt, oil, or debris from the skin, which can interfere with the tattoo ink’s absorption into the skin.
  3. Stencil Transfer Solution: Tattoo artists may use a stencil transfer solution to transfer the tattoo design onto the skin before tattooing. This solution helps the stencil adhere to the skin and ensures the design is applied accurately and evenly.
  4. Isopropyl Alcohol: Tattoo artists may use a small amount of isopropyl alcohol to disinfect the skin before tattooing. This helps to reduce the risk of infection by killing bacteria and other germs on the skin’s surface.
  5. Green Soap: Green soap is a gentle soap specifically designed for the tattooing industry. It is used to clean the skin before and after the tattooing process to help remove any excess ink, blood, or debris from the skin.

Can I Use Deodorant To Transfer The Tattoo?

No, Deodorant should not be used to transfer a tattoo onto the skin. Instead, you can use a tattoo transfer paper/ stencil paper, which is specifically designed for this purpose.

When creating a stencil on your skin, first prepare your skin by washing it and drying well. You can use a stencil buffer to remove dead skin cells from the area you plan to apply for the transfer.

This will create a smooth surface for the transfer paper to adhere to.

Next, place the stencil on your skin and rub it over with a stencil brush to secure it in place. Some artists find that covering the skin with petroleum jelly or a special tattoo adhesive helps keep the transfer paper from slipping.

You can also use your fingers to tape the transfer paper in place.

Then, use an applicator bottle, spray, or sponge on enough rubbing alcohol to moisten the tattoo transfer paper. If you are transferring a design onto your skin, ensure the alcohol is not so strong as to burn you.

Is Sharpie Safe For Tattoo Stencils?

However, be careful not to get alcohol onto your clothing or other fabrics because rubbing alcohol can damage the fabric.

Finally, soak the tattoo transfer paper in rubbing alcohol for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then gently peel off the paper from your skin using lightly oiled fingers. Be careful not to damage the skin.

Why Do Sharpies Dry Out So Fast?

  1. Sharpies are designed to be used as permanent markers, meaning they are not intended for use on the skin.

The link in Sharpies contains solvents and dyes meant to bond with the fibers in paper, not skin. When used on the skin, the ink can be absorbed more easily and dry out faster than paper.

  • The Tip of the Sharpie can also contribute to its fast-drying time. The tip of the Sharpie is made of a porous material that allows the ink to flow through it.

However, this same porous material can also absorb moisture from the air, causing the ink to dry out faster.

  • How you store the Sharpie can also affect its drying time. If the Sharpie is not capped properly or is left out in the open, the ink can dry out faster due to exposure to air and moisture.
  • Another reason why the Sharpie dries out so fast is that you can only partially get a Sharpie completely dry.

The ink doesn’t leave an imprint on the skin, but it does leave a permanent mark. Once the ink dries on the skin, rubbing alcohol or baby oil can wipe off the remaining ink.

  • If you keep the ink well-moisturized, it will dry sooner. The ink in Sharpies is water-based, so it can easily absorb moisture from the air.
  • Sharpies dry out too fast because they flake off in the air and on clothing.

Is It Okay To Use A Colored Sharpie As My Stencil?

No! It’s not okay to use a colored Sharpie as your stencil because it can lead to:

1. Infections

Sharpie ink is not water-soluble, so when you use it to draw on a stencil and then pick it up or put your hands near the project, bacteria can get onto your project and cause an infection.

2. Stains

The colors of different colored Sharpies vary in intensity, meaning the colors will bleed together to create one giant color on your material.

This means the colors could end up streaking or smearing onto other surfaces where they weren’t intended to be placed.

3. Skin Irritation

The liquid from the Sharpie can get absorbed into your skin and irritate it. Sharpies often contain propylene glycol, which is not good for you or your skin.

This can turn into poison in your body. Using a pen like a micron or Copic that is water soluble and environmentally friendly is better.

4. Fine lines

The fine point of the Sharpie can lead to your lines being too blurred to see on a stencil. Use a broad point or use a marker instead.

5. Molding

Sharpie ink can create mold if it gets into the wood you use for your project. You can avoid this by using paper instead of wood, but always check and make sure it is not damaged before you start!

6. Contrast

Sharpie ink is not as bright and vibrant as Copic ink and will not leave a mark as a solid color. It will always be slightly blurry, which means it will not be perfect if you use it for line work or project outlines.

How Do You Make A Homemade Stencil?

Making a homemade stencil is a fun and easy way to add personalization and style to your crafts or artwork. Here are the steps to make a simple stencil at home:


  • A design or image to use as your stencil.
  • A piece of cardboard or thick paper.
  • A sharp craft knife or scissors.
  • A cutting mat or surface.
  • A pencil or pen.
  • Tape or adhesive spray.


  1. Choose the design or image you want to use as your stencil. It can be hand-drawn or printed from a computer. Ensure the design is simple enough for your cutting tool.
  2. Print or draw your design onto a piece of paper and then transfer it to a piece of cardboard or thick paper using a pencil or pen. Make sure the design is centered and symmetrical.
  3. Cut out the design. Use a cutting mat and craft knife for more intricate designs to ensure precise cuts.
  4. Once you have cut out the design, remove any excess paper or cardboard.
  5. If you plan to reuse your stencil, use tape or adhesive spray to secure it to your project surface. If you only plan to use the stencil once, hold it firmly while you paint or spray over it.
  6. Paint or spray over the stencil onto your desired surface, holding it firmly in place to prevent any paint or spray from seeping underneath it.
  7. Remove the stencil from your project surface, ensuring not to smudge the paint or spray. Let the paint or spray dry completely before handling your project.


As you have learned above, a Sharpie pen is a good tool to use when creating any work of art, especially if you want to create some original masterpieces.

So, go ahead and make use of it. But you must take the necessary precautions to use a Sharpie successfully.


I'm Vincent, a registered skincare specialist and an award-winning tattoo artist. I've been in the industry for over 10 years and have worked with some of the best tattoo artists in my field. I've loved everything to do with tattoos and arts in general, as well as exercise and wellness! This site is a place for me to share some of the expertise knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current research and studies. Tattoos are a huge passion of mine, I faced many questions from customers about different products, and there was hardly any help on the internet. I decided to start a blog and help other people!

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