Creating a tattoo means using needles to transfer ink under the skin of a person until a picture forms. This is much like coloring as a child. You create an outline of the design and then you fill the outline in with color or careful shading techniques.
We wanted to make sure our readers were well educated on tattoo needles and could choose the best tattoo needle for the work they are doing. We talked to a host of professional artists to get needle tips and advice that we could share with you.
The 10 Best Tattoo Needles We Recommend
1. Dragonhawk Extreme Tattoo Disposable Standard Needle Cartridges
This is a long, tapered needle that is ideal for most tattoo work. It is a one-piece needle with a plunger over-mold that gives you more control and the needle more stability. That translates into less pain, and greater precision in the design.
This needle can be used in rotary or coiled machines. They are acceptable for the majority of pen-style tattoo machines too. They allow you to create a fluid tattoo procedure because of a special membrane designed to reduce or completely eliminate spit-back.
The body of the cartridge is transparent so that you have visible confirmations on the amount of ink that is contained and that is being sent to the nozzle. The needles are sterile and individually packaged so your customer can see you open a new needle and feel more confident about the sanitary conditions of your work.
- Sterile and disposable
- Versatile and fits most tattoo guns
- Sharp and creates less pain
- These needles do not fit all makes and models of tattoo equipment.
2. BigWasp 3RL Disposable Tattoo Needles
These are versatile tattoo needles that are compatible with all rotary and coiled tattoo guns. They are compatible with the Hawk machines. These needles are made from 316 surgical grade stainless steel. They are durable and will perform perfectly each time.
The needles are sterile and sealed in a blister pack so they remain sterile until you are ready to use them. They are in rubber band style cartridges and have a membrane that will prevent ink from being able to back-flow into the tube.
The design of the cartridge makes it very easy to change over. As a tattoo artist you will appreciate being able to change to a different size or shape of needle in seconds so the work you are doing is not impeded by the need for a needle swap.
- Designed for use with the majority of tattoo guns
- Lightweight yet durable
- Sanitary and in sealed blister packs
- These needles are not recommended as stick and poke alternatives.
3. Pirate Face Tattoo Assorted Tattoo Needles
This is a 100-piece needle variety pack. Each needle is individually packaged and sealed for sanitary reasons. The package includes needles that are #3 round liners, #5 round liners. #7 round liners, #9 round liners, #3 round shaders, #5 round shaders, #7 round shaders, #9 round shaders, and #5 Mag 1 and # 7 Mag 1. You will receive ten of each of the needle sizes and styles.
These needles are made from medical-grade stainless steel. They are durable, they perform well, they are sharp, and they are sterile and ready to use when you open the package. The package does have a best if used by date or expiration date. The needles are meant to be used before that day to assure their sterile condition.
These affordable needles can also be used for stick and poke tattoo creations if you do not wish to use a tattoo machine.
- Less painful than many needles
- Ample products to do several tattoo designs
- These needles tend to dull quicker than similar products.
4. STIGMA Standard Disposable Tattoo Needle Cartridges
These tattoo needle cartridges have the standard membrane that stops ink from being able to flow backward. They are pre-sterilized and pre-packaged in single-use packaging. You can trust their design and their germ-free condition and your customers can see you open the blister pack which lets them know that you take their health and safety seriously.
These needles are crafted from 304 medical-grade stainless steel. They are intended to be used as single use devices that will be disposed of after you use them one time. They work with all standard cartridge style tattoo machines and grips.
The high-quality and low price of these cartridge tattoo needles cannot be beaten. The needles are reliable and high-quality items that tattoo artists have come to love since the company started making them back in 2018.
- Precision needles that create precision designs
- Single-use so they maintain sterility
- Medical grade materials create no allergic reactions
- Penetrate skin well
- Some people complaint of a higher degree of pain when these needles are used.
5. BigWasp Assorted Disposable Tattoo Needles
The high-quality of BigWasp tattoo needles keep tattoo artists buying the devices repeatedly. They are affordable units that are made from medical grade stainless-steel and plastic components so you know they are strong and secure. They are individually packaged to maintain their sterile environment so you know the needle you are using will not infect or introduce your client to any germ or bacteria.
They are designed to prevent the ink from traveling back up the tube. They are rubber band-loaded cartridges that are compatible with the majority of tattoo equipment brands and styles. They are sharp and will help you to make better-looking tattoos and straighter lines with more definition and shape.
You will get ten cartridges of the 1203 round liners. The 1205 round liners, the 120 7 round liners, the 1209 round liners, and the 1211 round liners.
- Provide smooth ink delivery
- Sharp so they are less painful
- Easy to load in machine
- These needles are slightly higher priced than some other needles are.
6. Yuelong Disposable Tattoo Needles
100 precision needles sealed in individual plastic packages to secure sterile conditions. To open the needle package, you will simply peel the back off of the sealed blister pack. When you finish using the needle it should be disposed of in a sharp container for safe disposal.
The 100 needles are not all the same size. You are going to receive a variety package that contains ten of each of the following needle sizes.
- #3 round shader
- #5 round shader
- #7 round shader
- #3 round liner
- #5 round liner
- #7 round liner
- #9 round liner
The needles are made from 316 stainless steel that is specifically considered to be medical-grade stainless. The individual packaging allows the tips of the needles to be protected and maintain their sharpness so your customers have less pain and your work is more precise.
- Individually wrapped for protection
- Cost efficient
- Great for small or large shops
- The large pack is not always necessary if you only need to restock a few sizes.
7. YouZone RL3 Pre-Sterilized Tattoo Needles
These pre-sterilized needles are tube combo design devices. They each come in a tube that is a ¾” grip and the expiration or use needle by date is stamped onto each needle pack so you know the items are sterile and ready for use.
These needles make excellent poke and stick tattoo needles. They are sharp and they are crafted from medical grade stainless and plastics so they are durable and safe to use on humans.
The bar length of the devices is 4.41” and the needle tip length measures 1.18”. The length of each tube is 4.25” and the diameter of each tube measures 0.26”. These are round liner #3 needles so they are perfect for lining and detail creation.
- Perfect liners
- Can be used in a variety of tattoo processes
- Sharp for less pain
- The needles are better for stick and poke processes than for using in tattoo guns.
8. Hawink Tattoo Cartridge Needles
These cartridge-style needles are sterile, they are medical grade stainless steel, they are individually packaged for safety. They do have the standard membrane that stops the back traveling of ink back into the tube. They are sharp, and they are used by a large number of tattoo artists.
Your tattoo work will go smoothly and be less painful when using these needles. They are perfectly sharp and tapered so they penetrate to the proper depth on the first try and they make the work fast to do. On the end of the cartridge, there are semi-transparent bevel tips. These tips allow you to visually see the needle striking out and penetrating the skin so you can make any adjustments to depth or speed that you need to make.
- Easy to deliver the right amount of ink using these
- Sterile and medical grade for safety
- Not easy to bend or break
- These needles are not as sturdy as some tattoo needles and may break quicker.
9. Autdor Assorted Tattoo Needles
These tattoo needles are perfect for the majority of your tattoo techniques. They are properly packaged and sterile. They are medical-grade quality materials. They are dated so you know when to use them for them to be at their peak freshness, and they are sharp.
If you plan to be doing tattoo creations these needles will offer you a variety of sizes that help you to create the lining, the shading, and any other part of the tattoo that needs to be done. You will love the quality of these needles, and your customers will love how effortlessly they penetrate the skin and deliver the ink to the perfect depth.
Your work will be well-defined and look more professional when you use high-quality accessories like these.
- Perfect length for exact penetration
- Useful in all tattoo processes
- The needles create finer lines than some artists like.
10. Dragonhawk Poke and Stick Tattoo Kit
This is a complete kit that allows you to create a stick and poke tattoo that is high-quality, safe, and easy. The kit includes the stick pen you will need to hold your needles. The pen is reusable. It also includes needles, black ink, disposable gloves, tape, razor, and grips to make your work easier and more professional. You normally get both a 7RL and a 9RL needle in the kit.
You will be able to transfer the design you want onto your skin using the transfer paper, and then you will have the proper pen to help you control needle depth and penetration. This is critical in making a stick and poke that does not fade away or bleed out too soon.
- Sturdy needles that do not easily dull
- Strong and not easily broken
- The needles are not made to be used with rotary or coil machines.
Tattoo Needle Basics
Tattoo needles are not all the same size and shape. You use different sizes and shapes of needles to create different effects in the design.
Tattoo needles in tattoo guns are not just one needle. They are made up of several tiny little needles and the way they are grouped and bound together creates different effects when you apply the ink to the skin.
Lining is an intricate part of tattoo creation that requires your needles to be the proper size and shape. The majority of liner needles are soldered together to hold them into a tight configuration.
Round tattoo needles
RL is a round liner needle. It is customary to use round needles and low needles when you are creating a lining on a small to medium size tattoo.
For thicker lines, you want to get a larger needle but stay with the round shape.
These round needles are specifically designed for shading. They are the very best choice if you need to create a circle in a design.
Flat tattoo needles
You can use these needles when working with color. They are fabulous when you need to add depth to a design. When you are creating a mono-color tattoo line these needles up side by side and create color depth and definition.
Magnums tattoo needles
The magnum needles are usually just called Mags. They are very versatile and most tattoo artists love them for working with color.
These needles are excellent when you are creating a portrait. They are also incredible when you are doing highly detailed colorwork.
Basic ideas about how to use tattoo needles
In order for you to create a tattoo that is aesthetically pleasing and safe, you have to know the basics about tattoo needles.
The taper is the point length of the needle. There are short point needles and long point needles. The short is normally a 1.5mm and the length is normally about 2mm. There are very long points that can stretch up to 7mm in length.
The diameter of the needle is chosen according to what technique you are using. On the needle package if the numbers are 1207RL then the diameter of the needle is a 12 which is about 0.35mm and the largest diameter.
So, the 12 in the needle number told you the diameter what does the 7 before the RL tell you? The 7 tells you that seven separate needles are soldered together to create the grouping.
The RL tells you the needles are grouped together in a circular pattern.
Choosing the Right Needle
The larger the area that you need to cover the larger grouping of needles you will want. So, a 3RL would be used on a small tattoo but a large tattoo could call for a 9RL.
To make sure that you understand the needle grouping needed and the needle diameter needed you are going to have to get some practice skin and practice. Rome was not built in a day and no tattoo artist became perfect on their first try. The more tattoos you create the better you will be and the better your work will be.
FAQ About Tattoo Needles
How many needles are in a tattoo gun?
A tattoo needle that goes into a tattoo gun is not just one needle. A round needle may have as many as 15 sharp needles tightly bound together so each stick of the “needle” actually creates a stick of about 15 needles.
How to sterilize tattoo needles?
You purchase sterile tattoo needles and they are individually packaged. Needles are not very expensive and it is not worth the risk of infection or disease to try and sterilize a used needle. Dispose of each needle after you are through and open a new needle for the next work.
What size needle is best for tattoo lining?
A round liner is considered best for the lining. The number of needles soldered together may create thicker lines so use a 3RL for thin delicate lines and the bigger 9RL or 11RL for thick fat lines.
Do Tattoo artists use new needles?
Yes, tattoo artists use new needles every time they begin a tattoo. The needles are sealed in individual packages and most tattoo artists will open the needle in front of the customer so you can see that they are using a fresh and sterile needle to do the work.
What needle do you use to blackout a tattoo?
A standard #12 or a 15-mag long taper are both excellent needles for creating saturation over large areas. The process of saturation and black-out creation can be a slow one and it can be intimidating to take on.
How do tattoo needle cartridges work?
The cartridge is designed with a thin tube that allows the needle to be loaded with the ink of choice. A membrane is designed into the cartridge that stops the ink from being able to flow in both directions. You do not want the ink backing up and coming back at you. You push the needle in and the cartridge allows a precise amount of ink to be deposited.
If you are looking for tattoo needles with a tube design, we suggest the YouZone RL3 Pre-Sterilized Tattoo Needles – 40 Count. They are all size 3 round liners, and they are high-quality and durable items.
If you are looking for the perfect do-it-yourself stick and poke tattoo needles, we suggest you invest in the Dragonhawk Poke and Stick Tattoo Kit. The brand is well-known and respected among tattoo artists. The kit gives you everything you need to create your stick and poke safely, including nitrile examination gloves.
For the best deal on cartridge-style tattoo needles, we recommend the BigWasp Assorted Disposable Tattoo Needles – 50 Count. They are quality items that are the top choice of many tattoo salons across the country and around the world.