Which Fake Tattoo Skin Is The Best?
If you're new to tattooing and have just started your tattoo apprenticeship, you'll probably be wondering which fake tattoo skin is the best, and can I buy reusable tattoo practice skin, right? There are a lot of different brands out there, all offering their own version of tattoo practice skin, which means it can be a bit of a minefield when it comes on to deciding which is right for you.
You'll probably have lots of questions like, which is the best brand? Is the tattoo practice skin I purchase going to be reusable? How do I apply the stencil? Don't worry! We're here to help, and we'll talk you through some of the best options for tattoo practice skin.
So, what is tattoo practice skin?
Tattoo practice skin is a tattooable sheet made of either silicone or a synthetic material. It usually comes in the form of a square or rectangle. The sheet will be durable enough so that you can wrap it around your leg, or a round surface such as a bottle in order to give yourself a more realistic experience when you're tattooing, rather than just using it on a flat surface.
Some skins come with a band so that you can secure it around an arm or a leg. Some practice skin brands offer a variety of flesh tones to choose from too. Reusable tattoo practice skin isn't an option, so you may want to stock up if you're doing a lot of practicing—but some practice skin is tattooable on both sides, so you can flip it over once you're done with one side, and use the other side to get the most out of your fake tattoo skin (that's if you haven't gone through to the other side when you've tattooed it the first time round).
Tattoo apprentices often use practice skins before they tattoo real skin in order to give themselves as much practice as possible without actually tattooing a real person. Practice skin is a good way to get used to the weight and balance of the machine, and helps you learn about needle depth, and how to pull a neat line of course. There are other mediums you can use such as pig skin and fruit, which offer a surface on which to practice on, but practice skins are an affordable and realistic option that aren't messy, and will allow for stencil placement too. Reusable tattoo practice skin isn’t a thing—you can't get rid of the tattoo ink once you've put it in! This can help teach the user a valuable lesson because it's the same principle for tattooing a real person. Tattoos are permanent!
How do I use tattoo practice skin?
Putting the stencil on can be a little tricky, as you need to ensure you use the right amount of stencil applicator fluid prior to placing the stencil, and then leave it for a little while to go a bit tacky before applying the stencil. Once the stencil is on, most practice skin instructions will tell you to leave it on for at least 4 hours so that it can soak into the skin, and some may even advise leaving it overnight. Although practice skin looks and feels pretty realistic, the stencil still takes to it differently than it does real skin, so it's always best to follow the instructions for use for the particular brand of skin you're practicing with.
Once the stencil is well and truly on you're good to go! It's always advisable to ask your mentor to guide you through the tattoo practice process so they can show you exactly what you need to do. We'd also recommend mirroring a full tattoo set up in order to make your environment as realistic as possible to get into the right habits. This may include cleaning and prepping your workstation, and any arm rests or tattoo chairs you're using, setting up your machines and inks, and wearing gloves throughout the process.
Are there other options as well as practice skin sheets?
Yes there are! Some practice skin companies such as A Pound Of Flesh and Reelskin offer a range of tattooable limbs. They're made from the same materials as their practice skins, but created in a mould to make a very realistic limb. They're pretty heavy and look just like the real thing. These range from hands, feet, arms, and even heads! Like practice skins, they can be tattooed all over, so if you have a practice hand you can tattoo the whole thing, including fingers, palms, knuckles, and so on.
Practice limbs tend to be used more by professional tattoo artists as they're not as easy to tattoo (given the angles and realistic contours of the limb), and they're a bit pricier than sheets of tattoo skin. Tattoo artists will often take their finished limb to tattoo conventions so that they can showcase their work in 3D form on a lifelike canvas. That's not to say that tattoo apprentices can't use them though, and they can be very useful in giving you an idea of how to deal with a real limb.
What is the best fake skin for tattooing?
There are a few different options out there, but 2 of the main contenders on the market are Reelskin and A Pound of Flesh. Reelskin are industry leaders, offering a variety of items such as 3 different sizes of practice skin sheets in A5, A4 and A3 in 2 different skin tones. Practice arms, hands, and skulls are also available. Reelskin has a nice soft feel to it, and is probably the most realistic synthetic tattoo skin out there, so we'd highly recommend it! Again, there’s no option for reusable tattoo practice skin, but you can tattoo it on both sides!
Another pioneer in the tattoo practice skin market is A Pound of Flesh. They tend to cater to the more professional artist, offering a variety of limbs including hands, arms, feet, legs, full 3D skulls, and even a plank of 'wood' which looks super cool! Geared more for seasoned artists looking to expand on their portfolio and add a decorative element to their studio, A Pound of Flesh limbs are high quality and robust, offering the artist an almost realistic tattooing experience.
We offer our own tattoo practice skins which are a great quality, affordable option for tattoo apprentices. These Magnum Tattoo Supplies Practice Skins are 6" x 6" sheets that include a strap so you can wrap the skin around your arm/leg whilst practicing. They're perfect for those who are learning and looking to improve their lining and shading skills, and are up there with the best fake skin for tattooing.
Tattoo practice skins are extremely beneficial, and many tattoo artists will advise their apprentices to use them before tattooing real skin. Just like with real skin, there's no reusable tattoo practice skin, so it gives a realistic experience in that once the ink is in, it's in, and it's not coming out!
It's worth remembering that tattoo practice skin is not 100% the same as tattooing a real person. Your mentor should always guide you in every step of the way when you're ready to take the plunge and tattoo your first client. With practice skins, you're not contending with a living, fidgeting, bleeding client. Skins can only prepare you for so much.
Your mentor will probably advise you not to run before you can walk. You'll most likely be shadowing in the studio, making cups of tea, learning about the tattoo process, and of course refining your drawing skills before you're even allowed near a tattoo machine. Always listen to the guidance of your mentor to ensure that you can tattoo safely and professionally!
If you're ready to take your apprenticeship to the next level, then make sure you check out our excellent range of tattoo practice skins. There's something to suit all levels of tattooers, whether you're a beginner, a new tattoo artist, or a seasoned professional, we've got what you need.
- Antonia McLoughlin