How to Make Tattoos at Home

By Ily Goyanes

Tattoos are pretty expensive. When you go to a local tattoo shop, even getting a small, basic flower done will cost around a hundred dollars. If you want anything bigger than a half dollar, you are looking at several hundred dollars. People with a bit of mechanical savvy and some artistic ability can make tattoos at home for less than twenty dollars.

Tattoo Gun

Take the top, or head, of the toothbrush off. You will need to pull on it firmly to remove it. If instructions for changing the head are included with the toothbrush, you can follow those. Otherwise, just get a good grip on the top part of the brush and pull it off.

At the the now-exposed top of your electric toothbrush you will notice a piece of metal surrounded by plastic. Use your wire cutters to remove as much of the plastic as possible and expose more of the metal. Ideally you will have at least a quarter inch of metal showing. Turn on the toothbrush and you should see the piece of metal moving up and down rapidly.

Grab the guitar string and cut a piece about three centimeters long using your wire cutters. Turn the very tip of the string so it is at a 90-degree angle and snip it with the wire cutters. It should be sharp. This will serve as the needle for your tattoo gun. Sterilize the needle by holding it in the flame of the lighter for a few seconds and then soaking it in the hydrogen peroxide for five minutes.

Apply your adhesive to the exposed metal piece at the top of the toothbrush and insert the blunt end of the needle in the center. Keep the needle straight during this step, as it is imperative that your needle be properly placed. Once the adhesive has dried, turn on the toothbrush to make sure that the needle is straight and goes directly up and down.


Dip the needle in hydrogen peroxide when you are ready to use it, and set it on a sterile cotton pad to dry. Draw the tattoo design on tracing paper.

With liquid glycerin soap, clean the area of skin to be tattooed. If there is hair on the skin, shave it and then clean it again. Trace the tattoo design onto the skin using the marker. Pour India ink into a container to dip your needle in.

Dip the needle into the ink. Go over the design with the tattoo gun, using a slow and steady hand. Apply only enough pressure to make sure you penetrate the skin.

The skin will bleed, so have a paper towel in your hand to continuously wipe the area clear. Keep the roll of paper towels nearby.


Wash your hands with antibacterial soap every time you handle the tattoo gun or touch skin. Also, use latex gloves when tattooing someone.

Wrap the tattoo gun in a sterile pad when you put it away and clean it with hydrogen peroxide after every use.

If you have never tattooed anyone before, practice on an orange first. The skin of an orange is porous and serves as a good substitute for human skin.

Maintain the tattoo by putting a thin layer of A & D ointment on it a couple of times a day for the first week or two.

Do not expose the tattoo to the sun until the skin has healed—this usually takes two to three weeks.

About the Author

Ily Goyanes has been writing professionally since 1994. Her work has appeared in local and national publications, including the "Miami New Times," "Broward/Palm Beach New Times" and "Florida Agenda" newspapers, as well as online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science with concentrations in film, psychology and legal studies from Kaplan University.