Tracy Tattoo Talk

5 Things Tattoo Beginners Must Know Before Buying Tattoo Needles

5 Things Tattoo Beginners Must Know Before Buying Tattoo Needles

With a wide range of tattoo needle models available, each varying in shape and thickness, it's natural to wonder how these differences impact their use.
As a first-time buyer, what should you be aware of? How do beginners in the tattoo world select the right needle? This article is designed to answer these questions. By the end, you'll be equipped to confidently choose the tattoo needle that's perfect for your needs!

1. Styles and Differences of Needle Tips

The classification of tattoo needle styles is primarily into two categories: round needles and liner needles. The distinction lies in the arrangement of the needle filaments. When considering specifications, it's essential to look at both the number of needle filaments and their diameter.
There are six common styles of tattoo needles available: Round Liner, Round Shader, Flat Liner, Weaved Magnum, Stacked Magnum, and Round Magnum. Each of these styles serves a unique purpose and application in the art of tattooing.

Round Needles

Round Needles typically consist of multiple needle filaments arranged in a circular pattern, culminating in a focused tip. This design offers low resistance when piercing the skin and ensures high color density, which is crucial for creating deeply saturated lines during the tattooing process.
Round needles are further categorized into Round Liner and Round Shader:

Round Liner Needles (RL)

Characteristics: The needle filaments are tightly grouped at the center, forming a precise point.
Uses: RL needles are ideal for outlining and creating fine lines. They are used in tasks like defining tattoo outlines, detailing small graphic elements, and highlighting or accentuating the edges of designs, thus providing a sharp and clear contour.

Round Shader Needles (RS)

Characteristics: Unlike RL, RS needles have a spread-out arrangement and do not converge to a single point.
Uses: RS needles are predominantly used for soft filling and shading work. They are suitable for tasks like shading in tattoos, filling small areas, creating bold lines in old school styles, and enhancing the vibrancy and richness of designs.

Liner Needles

Liner Needles are characterized by their horizontally arranged filaments, offering a larger skin contact area, making them suitable for coloring extensive areas. Due to this broader contact range, they also present greater resistance when penetrating the skin.
Liner Needles have more subtypes compared to round needles; here are some common styles:

Flat Liner Needles (FL)

Characteristics: The needle filaments are aligned in a single row, forming a flat configuration.
Uses: Flat Liner Needles are primarily used for detailed coloring and edging. They offer superior control, enabling tattoo artists to execute intricate line designs with precision and subtlety.

Weaved Magnum Needles (M1)

Characteristics: M1 needles feature filaments crossed in two rows, creating a higher tip density. This makes them the most versatile among liner needles.
Uses: M1s are mainly used for shading large areas, such as the back or legs, creating gradient shadow effects. Their crossed arrangement provides a more uniform and gentle tattooing experience, helping to mitigate discomfort.

Stacked Magnum Needles (M2)

Characteristics: The needle tips in M2 are arranged in multiple stacked layers, increasing the area covered with each stroke. M2 combines the precision of Flat Needles with the high density of M1 and is designed for efficient color filling and soft shading effects.
Uses: M2 is primarily used for color filling and shading large areas, such as on the back or legs.

Round Magnum Needles (RM)

Characteristics: RM needles have an arc-shaped arrangement with shorter sides and a longer center, ensuring softness in transitions and versatility in application.
Uses: RM is mainly employed for outlining and creating smooth color transitions, suitable for detailed shading and illustration styles.

T&T provide five styles frequently used by tattoo artists, such as RL, RS, F, M1, and RM.

2. Specifications and Differences in Needle Tips

Needle Number

Tattoo needles are categorized based on the number of filaments they contain. These needle numbers are exclusively odd. For round needles, the numbering starts at 1, with common sizes being 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. Liner needles, on the other hand, start at 3, with frequently used sizes including 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15. The thickness of the needle is directly linked to its number; smaller numbers indicate thinner needles, while larger numbers denote thicker ones.

T&T provide an odd number series of needle numbers, such as 01, 03, 05, 07, 09, etc.

Needle Type

Tattoo needles are also differentiated by the diameter of their filaments. Here's a breakdown of the various needle types and their corresponding diameters:
  1. 06 needle type equals 0.2mm
  2. 08 needle type equals 0.25mm
  3. 10 needle type equals 0.3mm
  4. 12 needle type equals 0.35mm
  5. 14 needle type equals 0.4mm
  6. 18 needle type equals 0.5mm.

The 06 and 18 needle types are less common. Most artists typically use the 12 needle type. Those preferring more delicate patterns often opt for the 10 or 08 types.

T&T provide 3 tattoo needle types, such as 08, 10, and 12.

3. How to Read the Number Combination on Packaging

Packaging labels for tattoo needles can vary slightly between different brands. However, the standard abbreviations used in these labels are consistent and include the needle style, needle number, and needle type.

For instance, take the label [1203RL]:
  • "12" represents the needle type, indicating that the filament diameter is 0.35mm.
  • "03" signifies the needle number, meaning there are 3 needle filaments.
  • "RL" stands for the needle style, in this case, a Round Liner.

Therefore, a [1203RL] needle is a 3-filament Round Liner with a filament diameter of 0.35mm.

*Note: As abbreviations may differ slightly across brands, it's advisable to confirm the style name and details with the brand's customer service when making a purchase.

4. What Should Tattoo Beginners Pay Attention to When Buying Tattoo Needles for the First Time?

Needle Quality

T&T is very strict about the quality of tattoos. However, this does not imply that all tattoo needles available on the market are free from manufacturing defects or transport damage. Therefore, it's crucial to check whether each tattoo needle is straight and sharp before use to prevent any potential harm to the skin.

Health and Safety

Prior to inserting tattoo needles into human skin, it is essential to ensure that the needles have been pre-sterilized in line with hygiene standards. All needles sold by T&T Tattoo Needles undergo sterilization with ethylene oxide gas and are individually packaged in blister packs. The expiration date is clearly marked on the packaging to indicate the end of the sterility period.

Reasonable Budget

T&T offers a range of products to suit various budget levels, all incorporating T&T's patented technology and subjected to the same degree and number of quality tests. We advise setting a reasonable budget and selecting tattoo equipment and supplies that meet your needs. While the most expensive tools aren't always necessary, it's important not to compromise on quality for the sake of economy.

Compatibility with Equipment

Before purchasing, ensure that the needle is compatible with your setup. Confirm whether you require an integrated tattoo needle rather than separate needle bodies. Additionally, verify that you have or will purchase a tattoo machine that is compatible with your chosen integrated tattoo needle. For assistance, please feel free to contact us.

5. How Do I Choose The Tattoo Needle I Want?

Each needle style and combination in tattooing serves a different purpose, much like different brushes for an artist. At T&T, our aim is to help you understand these details, especially if you're new to the tattoo industry. We provide essential information to guide you, but keep in mind that using tattoo needles can be more flexible than what's just on paper.
If you're unsure about which tattoo needles to choose, don't worry; we're here to assist. You can easily get in touch for personalized advice. Contact us through our official website for a consultation, or email our friendly sales team at We're here to help you make the best choices in your tattoo journey, and we're excited to help you learn and grow in this vibrant and creative field.


Becoming a successful tattoo artist is a long but beautiful journey. As you develop your unique style, it's crucial to know your equipment well and choose tools that match your needs and artistic preferences. Every artist has their own approach, and finding the right tools ensures both you and your clients are happy with the work. At T&T Tattoo, we're committed to supporting you at every stage of your career. Stay tuned for our next article, where we'll continue to bring you the best and most helpful information about the amazing art of tattooing.

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