When you look for tattoo needles on a website or in a catalog, it can seem a bit confusing with all the options available. But don’t worry, you’ll get a guide here.
There are basically six different types of needles: Round Liners, Round Shaders, Magnum Shaders, Curved Magnum Shaders, Flat Shaders and Double Stacks.
At Lucky Europe, we sell with the brands ION needles, Kwadron, Smith Street and Lucky Supply, but here you get some background information about some of the different types of needles.
On this type of needle, the needles are soldered in a round pattern to produce a sharp and clean tattoo work. The thickness of the line depends on the number of round liners you choose (eg 01 which is very fine or 14 which is very thick) as well as the thickness/gauge of each needle. Liner needles, once dipped into the ink, release only small amounts of ink and are then processed into the skin. If too much ink was released, lining would become quite a task. These types of needles are usually used for: dot work, lining work that works on both bold and intricate work, writing and letters, Japanese, traditional and neo-traditional, geometric, tribal and samoan.
Magnum shaders are the preferred grouping or needle type for pretty much all shadow work. Magnum shaders hold and deliver a lot of ink, making them perfect for large areas of color packing and shadow. Fewer passes over an area are required to work with the ink, which means less trauma to the skin. There are a few different variations of magnum needles eg it is commonly used for black and gray color, all types of shadows and color packing, color realism, Japanese, traditional and neo-traditional, tribal and samoan.
Curved magnum shaders are also known as soft magnums, soft angular magnums and round magnums. They are used in the same way except that the needles are positioned so that they arc in the middle. This means that the edges of the needle run along the skin with more consistency, resulting in better distribution of ink and a more uniform line. It is also less harmful to the skin and helps to create a soft shadow. These types of needles are usually used for the colors black and gray, all types of shades and color packaging, color realism, Japanese, traditional and neo-traditional, tribal and samoan.
Double stack magnum shaders are not as current as they once were. The needles of a double stack magnum or double stack are packed much more tightly together. This helps with any intricate shadow or color work where you still want it to work like a magnum with many needles but not so scattered. These types of needles are usually used for shade and color packaging, the colors black and gray, color realism, Japanese, traditional and neo-traditional, tribal and samoan.
Flat shader needles are needles that are soldered in a straight line on the needle bar. These needles are used for lining because their shape allows them to deliver more ink to the skin. This means clearer, darker lines with just one stroke. Larger flat needles can be used for color filling and shadow as they deliver more ink quickly with just one go. Flat shaders are good for intricate shading as in geometric patterns and some mandala work. Flat shaders are also common in semi-permanent makeup. These types of needles are usually used for line work, minor shadow and color packing, the colors black and gray, color realism, Japanese, traditional and neo-traditional, tribal, samoan and geometric.
This size needle is one of the smaller needles available, but not the smallest. They also occasionally referred to as Bugpins. This needle is used when a slower flow of ink is required for intricate or detailed work. Some people use #8 needles for most of their work simply because they like that they hold more ink at a time as the pins are more tightly compressed.
A #10 needle is a very common needle size and they are also called Double Zeros. It is popular among all types of tattoo and needle groups as they are basically the medium size (when accepting 8, 10 and 12 as the three most important needles). The ink flow of 0.30 mm needles is still a smooth and controlled flow, but not as limited and slow as an #8 or 0.25 mm.
Like 0.30 mm needles, #12 needles are very popular across all needle groups and tattoo styles. Anyone referring to #12 or 0.35mm needles can also call them standards. This size needle is usually used for lining and traditional work as they have a faster ink flow.
#6 gauge (0.20 mm). #14 gauge (0.40mm diameter) and #16 gauge (0.45mm) are not used as often anymore. They are quite uncommon as they have very few specific uses.