How Deep Does A Tattoo Needle Go?

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Getting a new tattoo can be really exciting because you want the design to look amazing on your body. But for that to happen, the artist needs to use the needle at the right depth. That’s the only way to get the best looking ink.

Are you wondering how deep does a tattoo needle go? When getting a tattoo, the needle should go about 1/16th of an inch into your skin. This is about 2 millimeters (0.08 inches) into the layer of your skin called the dermis, where the ink will be placed.

If you’re interested in learning more about how deep a tattoo needle should go and how to make sure it goes in deep enough, you’re in luck! We’re here to help and guide you through the process.

Keep reading to find out all you need to know.

How Do I Know If I’m Tattooing Deep Enough?

The depth of the tattoo needle should be 1/16th inch into the skin to ensure perfect ink. As an artist, you have to maintain this depth by adjusting the length of the metal needle.

All the machines used for tattooing come with adjustable needles for selecting the proper depth.

You can know you’re going deep enough by visible signs:

  • The first sign you should look for is the ink placement and the tattoo lines. If they are solid and appear crisp, you are going deep enough. Besides that, they would also look a bit raised.
  • If the tattoo is smudgy or not spaced evenly, it means you are not going deep enough.

A key thing to note is that going shallow rather than too deep is better. This is because you can still fix the ink with that.

tattoo needle closeup color

What Happens If The Tattoo Needles Go Too Deep?

Here are the things that can happen when your tattoo needle goes too deep:

– Blood

Blood is the typical sign you should check for to see if the needle has gone too deep. Usually, a small amount of blood does not indicate concern during tattooing.

However, if the amount is more than expected, you should not consider it normal. It means that your needle is too deep, and your ink will not deliver good results.

– Tattoo Blowout

You may also experience a tattoo blowout if the needle has penetrated too deep. However, you should note that the time of this can vary.

Sometimes a blowout is visible while doing the ink, but it can also appear weeks later.

The top way to recognize a blowout is by observing the tattoo lines and design. If it is imprecise, it means your needle went in too deep. Additionally, the color consistency will be improper as well. For instance, you will have patches of light and dark areas.

tattoo needle closeup

How Long Is A Tattoo Needle?

The length of the taper of a typical tattoo needle can be anywhere from 0.098-0.110 inches (2.5 mm to 2.8 mm). However, the diameter matters the most when choosing the right needle for your needs. The gauge diameter varies in the range of 0.010-0.016 inches (0.25 mm to 0.40 mm).

Here are the different types of tattoo needles you should be aware of:

– Round Liner Needles

These needles are mainly advisable for geometric tattooing and dot work. Their diameter can be 0.012-0.016 inches (0.30 mm or 0.40 mm), depending on various factors.

If you want to do a lettering tattoo, this is the type you want.

– Textured Needles

Textured needles lack polishing on their ends and can be of 0.016 inches (0.40 mm) maximum diameter. This allows the tool to hold the ink better than most other types. Thus, it helps you achieve high pigmentation during solid color tattooing.

– Round Shader Needles

This type is similar to the round liner type but differs because of a higher gap between the pins. The round shader needles are for making tattoos with thick lines. They are also suitable for shading and color filling different designs.

closeup tattoo needle

How Hard Do I Press When Tattooing?

As a tattoo artist, you should press hard enough to ensure that the ink reaches the middle skin layer (dermis). You also have to maintain the proper pressure when doing. Typically, you can determine how hard you need to press by hearing the tattoo machine’s sound.

If the tool is producing a heavy sound that makes you think it is struggling, it means you are pressing too hard. Meanwhile, if the tone is the same as before you put the needle in, it means you are not pushing hard enough.

When the tattoo machine makes a satisfying humming sound during the process, it means you are pressing just the right amount.

tattoo needle closeup

Can Tattoo Needle Hit A Vein?

A tattoo needle can hit a vein and inject ink into it. However, the typical chances of this happening are slim. There is not a lot of information on the side effects of this. However, you can prevent this by taking some precautions.

The best way to prevent a tattoo needle from hitting a vein is by maintaining the proper depth. This will allow you to inject ink only into the dermis of the receiver.

Final Words

That was your complete guide to how deep does a tattoo needle go.

If you’re planning on getting a tattoo, it’s important to know the proper depth for the needle. This will impact the quality and how long your tattoo lasts. We’ve stressed the importance of getting the needle depth right and offered tips on how to achieve it.

We hope that by following the advice in the article, you can help make sure your tattoo looks great and lasts as long as possible.


Can a tattoo needle hit bone?

It’s very uncommon for a tattoo needle to hit the bone, so you shouldn’t worry about it too much. Most tattoos are applied to the outer layer of skin, but in certain areas like the head, face, and collarbone, the needle can go deeper and potentially hit the bone.

How many layers of skin does a tattoo needle go through?

The tattoo needle can penetrate through six layers of skin during the tattooing process. These layers include the five sublayers of the epidermis (stratum corneum, stratum lucidum, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum, and stratum basale) and the papillary layer of the dermis. The needle enters through the top layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, and deposits the ink in the papillary layer of the dermis, which is the uppermost layer of the dermis and contains connective tissue, capillaries, and nerve endings.

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