How to give yourself a tattoo without a gun

Updated April 17, 2017

Being tattooed by a professional tattoo artist, with sterile tattooing equipment, is the safest way to get a tattoo. However, there are a number of other methods for tattooing, although safety from injury or infection can not be guaranteed. The following is one of the more common methods of self-tattooing.

Wash your hands with hot water and soap. Dry with a clean towel. Sterilise the sewing needle by washing it in very hot water with soap, and then cleaning it off with rubbing alcohol. Another way to sterilise a needle is to heat it with a lighter, or place it in boiling water. Put on a pair of new, sterile gloves.

Choose a location to place the tattoo. Be aware of veins and other very sensitive areas, and find a spot on your body that is easy to reach and safe to tattoo.

Disinfect your skin with soap and water, as well as an antiseptic, such as Iodine.

Draw out the lines of your tattoo, if necessary, using a ballpoint pen.

Wrap white cotton around the needle. Start at the top and wind around to the bottom. Repeat this a couple of times from the bottom to the top. Your goal is to get the thread thick and tight around the needle so that the India Ink will soak into the thread, leaving you with a good supply of ink while you tattoo yourself.

Dip the needle with the thread into the India Ink, and let the ink soak up the needle.

Tattoo over the outline or in whatever manner you choose. You will need to make sharp and fast poking motions so that the ink will go into the skin, and to keep continuous lines. Repeat as necessary.


Clean your new tattoo with soap and water, dry with a clean towel, and cover with a bandage for about 4 hours. You can put zinc-free ointment on the tattoo.

India Ink is often available in craft stores, or from online retailers.


Tattoos are permanent!

Do not pick at any scabs that may develop. Picking scabs can lead to infection, and can also distort the quality of the tattoo.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing needle
  • White cotton
  • India Ink
  • Iodine
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clean, dry towel
  • Bandage
  • Zinc-free ointment
  • Soap
  • Clean water
  • Steril gloves
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About the Author

Desi Crall has a B.A. in Political Science from California State University Sacramento, and is currently a graduate student of Elementary Education at the University of Phoenix. Desi has worked as a freelance writer for three years, with articles and blogs appearing on sites such as,, and