Top UNNECESSARY Tattoo NECESSITIES for Your Setup | Painful Pleasures Community


Some tattoo supplies may seem "unnecessary..." but they can actually streamline your setup and make your life way easier. Check out our roundup of the top "unnecessary" (but low-key essential) tattoo supplies.
by Danny Tress Last Updated: November 30, 2023

In the fast-paced world of tattooing, every second counts… and so does every item in your setup. So, why settle for the bare-bones basics when you can invest in tattoo supplies that not only make your life easier but also elevate your artistry? In this blog, we’re diving into all the best (seemingly unnecessary but low-key-essential) tools that will…

  1. Speed up your setup and breakdown time
  2. Help make your setup more personalized and fun
  3. Take your skills to new heights

Alright, now let’s break it down.

1. Barrier Film: Basic but Mind-Blowing Efficient

Close-up of barrier film stretching over a stainless steel medical tray

Still using cling wrap? That’s so last decade. Barrier film is the unsung hero that not only wraps up your tattooing station with precision but sticks around (literally) for a hassle-free cleanup. Thicker, adhesive-backed, and easy to clean, barrier film eliminates headaches you might experience with cling wrap. It’s much harder to poke holes in… plus, it peels right off your workstation surfaces in one swoop.


  • Comes in many sizes including large sheets for fast, easy coverage in one swoop
  • Adhesive backing for stay-put perfection
  • Easy to clean
  • Thicker, so it’s better at preventing accidental ink leaks


  • A tad pricier than cling wrap depending on size

Overall Essentialness Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

2. Saferly Customized Ink Caps: Personalize Your Tattoo Supplies, Own Your Space

Artist's gloved hand holding an array of Saferly skull-shaped ink caps

A boring tattoo station makes work more boring. So, make it more exciting, and it barely costs you any more than it would when you purchase standard ink caps. Saferly offers skull– and heart-shaped ink caps in a huge variety of colors according to your preference. They also offer flesh-toned ink caps shaped to resemble the tattooable APOF Cutie Doll’s head. Sure, these may be the least essential item on this list, but a little personality goes a long way. Treat your setup and your workspace like you would your desk or home. The more personalized, the more at home you feel.


  • Adds a personal touch to your setup
  • Functionality meets aesthetics
  • Eco-friendly biodegradable option for the eco-conscious artist (eco-friendly option only available for Skull Caps)


  • Currently only Hearts, Skulls, and Cutie Doll heads available
  • Large color variety only available for Skull Caps (Heart Caps are pink and Cutie Doll caps are flesh-toned)
  • Slightly pricier than standard ink caps

Overall Essentialness Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

3. Hive Caps: Stackable and Time-Saving Tattoo Supplies

Colorful array of stackable Hive Caps ink caps

Say goodbye to messy tattoo ink palettes and hello to Hive Caps—your one-way ticket to unmatched organization. These stackable, configurable ink caps allow you to build and stack your palette however you’d like for easy access to your favorite inks. The stackable feature is the best part because it prevents your inks from drying out too quickly. Just stack the caps atop one another, preventing too much air exposure, and you’re all set for longer tattoo sessions that otherwise might have ended with drying ink. The stackable feature is especially useful at tattoo conventions when you’re working all day long. All in all, Hive Caps are like Tetris for tattoo artists, minus the stress and plus a whole lot of efficiency.


  • Stackable design for ultimate organization
  • Configurable arrangement according to your preference
  • Prevents ink drying and cross-contamination


  • A bit pricier than standard ink caps but the convenience is a game-changer

Overall Essentialness Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

4. Wipe Outz Black Tattoo Towels: Softness for Your Canvas

Container of premium Wipe Outz tattoo wipes

Paper towels? Pfft. Upgrade to the VIP treatment for tattoo wiping with Wipe Outz Black Tattoo Towels. They’re a favorite of tattoo artist Bobby Douglas, chameleon-tattoo aficionado whose setup you can check out in our blog here. Soft, sterilized, and durable, these wipes don’t irritate your client’s skin like standard paper towels would. Consequently, you have a much more workable surface. WipeOutz also eliminates the risk of leaving any lint or residue behind. Moreover, they’re certified tattoo supplies you can’t grab at your local Walgreens. They wipe clean every single time, so you don’t have to worry about clogging your needles or tubes.


  • Longer-lasting and more durable than paper towels
  • Soft and gentle on the skin (keeps your client’s skin workable)
  • Sterilized for a hygienic tattooing experience
  • No residue means no needle or tube clogs


  • Pricier than paper towels
  • Some artists complain that they smear ink

Overall Essentialness Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

5. Saferly Dip Cup with Foam: Eco-Friendly Efficiency

Box of DIPCAP with foam by Saferly

While we’re trash-talking paper towels… here’s another way you can eliminate the need for them. Enter Saferly Dip Cup with Foam. Dip, rinse, and easily dry your needles without the fuss of a paper towel in your setup. Leave the dabbing and drying to a soft, absorbent chunk of foam. Dip Cup is also the eco-friendly solution to traditional rinse cups, making your setup cleaner and more efficient. So choose greener tattoo supplies that keep your setup way cleaner than a paper towel ever could.


  • No more paper towel waste
  • Easy and quick needle drying
  • Eco-friendly alternative


  • Pricier but the environment will thank you.

Overall Essentialness Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

6. Peak Dotwork Cartridges: Elevate Your Dot Game

Two Peak ballpoint dotwork cartridges side by side

Master the art of dotwork and stippling with Peak Dotwork Cartridges. Well, honestly… master any art you’d like. These babies turn hand-drawing into a tattooing experience. They fit like standard needle cartridges to your machine, but they’re loaded with ballpoint pens, so you can practice vital tattooing skills on paper, wood, and more. That means you can nail your whipshading technique without once dipping actual needles into an ink cap. Take your skills beyond the tattoo chair and create stunning pieces on canvas and wood, where mistakes are much more forgivable. The dotwork cartridges are also an excellent gateway to using the Peak Quartz Stippling + Whipshading cartridges. Master your skills, then graduate the best cartridges for pepper shading, whipshading, dotwork and beyond.


  • Mimics tattooing for realistic practice
  • Ideal for dotwork and stippling mastery
  • Versatile for various artistic surfaces


  • Doesn’t work well on synthetic skin surfaces (better for wood, canvas, or paper)

Overall Essentialness Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

7. A Pound of Flesh 3D Canvases: Practice Like a Pro

Two APOF tattooable hands

Flat practice skins are great and all, but it’s time to step up your game with A Pound of Flesh 3D Canvases. These 3D molds give you a lifelike tattooing experience like no other practice skin on the market. Complete with curvature and a variety of textures, these 3D molds provide a more challenging practice session than you’d get from a flat piece of skin. Think of it like running at an incline instead of a flat terrain. You’re gonna get stronger that way.

Plus, these molds come in so many eye-catching varieties: a guinea pig, naked cat, cutie doll, and duck are just a few of the options you have to choose from. Tattooing on weird surfaces simply makes tattooing all the more fun. But these molds also make your physical portfolio way more interesting than a standard flashbook. Showcasing your skills with A Pound of Flesh 3D tattooable molds turns heads and lets potential clients see what your work looks like on “skin” firsthand.


  • Realistic 3D experience for lifelike practice
  • Challenges and grows your skills
  • Great for building a standout portfolio


  • Molds like the Guinea Pig and Naked Cat prove very challenging (not necessarily a con depending on what you’re looking for)
  • Pricier than flats, but consider it an investment in your craft.

Overall Essentialness Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


There you have it—your shortcuts to a setup that’s not only efficient but also uniquely yours. Optimize your efficiency, breathe personality into your workspace, and watch your skills soar. At the end of the day, unnecessary NEVER means “not worth it.”

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