How Deep Should a Tattoo Needle Go?

How Deep Should a Tattoo Needle Go?

Tattoos are permanent works of art on the body. Many people want to try them, but they are afraid of the pain and injury caused by tattoo needles. That’s understandable, because for most people, that’s the needle. Fortunately, finding a professional and practiced tattoo artist who knows how to handle needles correctly can ensure the highest quality artwork and a fun experience. Tattoo artists adjust the length of the needle in such a way that it only penetrates 1/16th of an inch into the skin. The depth and pressure of the needles help ensure a long-lasting tattoo and a relatively painless experience. Today we’re going to talk about how deep the needle goes into the skin, and the mechanics of the tattoo machine, to help you reduce the anxiety about getting a new tattoo by getting familiar with how things work.

The tattoo machine

To understand the whole deal with the tattoo needle, we need to start with the tattoo machine. In most contemporary tattoo shops these days, tattoo artists use a modern tool: an electrically powered machine. The tattoo machine has a tattoo needle attachment that pushes the needle into the skin at 6,000 times a minute. As the tattoo machine pushes the needle into the skin, the needle pierces the skin and creates a hole where the ink will be stored. As the needle pushes out of the skin, it creates a vacuum seal, which sucks the ink into the previously created hole in the skin, making it permanent.

The Needle

Tattoo needles are generally made of steel, nickel, and chrome. There are numerous types of tattoo needles, used for different tattooing styles, shading, coloring, dotting, and other tattooing practices.


For example, there are round needles used for shading and lining, flat needles used for cleaner, darker lines, magnum needles used for shading, etc.


Standard needles are between 0.30mm and 0.35mm in thickness. Some tattoo needles are even thinner than that. For example, bugpins, or magnum needles are usually between 0.20mm and 0.25mm in thickness. They are mostly used for detailed shading.

So How Deep Does the Needle Actually Go?

The answer to the question we’ve all come here for: how deep does a tattoo needle actually go? Answer? About 1/16th of an inch into the skin. You may be asking, why this specific depth? It all has to do with the various layers beneath your skin’s surface.

Learn about our skin

How Deep Should a Tattoo Needle Go

Our skin has a total of 3 layers: Epidermis (composed of 5 sub-layers), Dermis, and Subcutaneous tissue.  

The Epidermis – This layer is made up of five sub-layers. Depositing ink here means your design will fade and flake off, as this layer is constantly regenerating.

The Dermis -The dermis sits at that perfect 1/16th of an inch depth that you want to hit.Ink remains permanently in this layer.

Subcutaneous – This is the layer of fat beneath the dermis. If you insert ink here, it will blowout and feather, and it can also lead to excessive bleeding if penetrated.

More specifically, the Dermis layer has a thickness range from 1mm to 2mm, so If you want to gain an ideal tattoo and a safe process, the needle should go 1mm and 2mm through the skin. Because the outer layer is always growing up, the ink will not last long if the tattoo needle stays there. On the other hand, If the needle goes deep into the subcutaneous tissue, you may suffer severe pain and infection.

In conclusion

Tattoos are a beautiful thing, the depth of a tattoo needle is one of the most important aspects of creating amazing artwork, so make sure you only go to reputable and experienced tattoo artists! After all, it’s about your safety and your tattoo, you’ll never regret it!

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