How Deep Should a Tattoo Needle Go: The Perfect Depth for Tattooing

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What is the right depth for a tattoo needle? It’s a question that has been asked by people from all walks of life, and it can be hard to answer. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about how deep should a tattoo needle go and the depths of tattoos needles in hopes that you find an answer to your question!

When it comes to getting tattoos, there are many things people need to think about before they go through with it – like size, placement, and color. But one factor that’s often overlooked is the depth of each needle. While it may seem like a minor detail, when you are tattooing someone, this can have an impact on how much pain they experience during the procedure and whether or not they are able to complete it successfully. A lot of people have a hard time deciding what depth to set the needles at. People will either pick something too shallow and have an incomplete tattoo, or they’ll go for something that’s way too deep which can cause pain and discomfort! So how do you know what is right? It all depends on your needs but here are some basic guidelines:

  • One millimeter deeper than desired – this is likely more painful than it should be so we would recommend going with zero instead if possible.
  • A little over one millimeter deeper than desired – best choice.
  • Normal depth (zero) – most comfortable setting.
  • Less than half a millimeter – under normal depth.

All in all, it’s safe to say there isn’t any perfect answer when thinking about setting up your machine. You will just have to experiment with different depths and see what works best for you and your client!

A tattoo needle is a sharp metal tube with an electric power supply at the end. The needle penetrates the skin and deposits ink pigment deep into the dermis layer of the skin, which can create a permanent mark or design. To determine how deep to set your tattoo needles, you will want to measure from one millimeter (mm) deeper than your desired depth down to zero mm on a ruler. This will give you an idea of what setting would be appropriate for your needs so that you don’t go too deep and cause any pain or discomfort during the process! Remember, it’s always best to experiment with different depths and see what works best for you.

The depth of a tattoo needle is measured in millimeters. Most needles are from 0 to 12 mm deep, but there are several different depths that can be used depending on the design and your preference.

Most people go for either a 0 or a 00 when they get their first tattoo because it’s easier to cover up later if you make a mistake with something this small. The deeper the needle goes into the skin though, the more colors would pop out and look even better once healed! It will also take longer since there is more work being done at one time. However, going too deep could cause pain during healing which wouldn’t be worth it in my opinion!

So, when it comes to getting your first tattoo or even your next one, think about the design and what look you’re going for. Then decide how deep you want the needle to go! 0 or 00 are a great place to start!

How Deep Should a Tattoo Needle Go?
Photo: How Deep Should a Tattoo Needle Go?

How Many Layers Does a Tattoo Go Through

A tattoo goes through many layers before it is finished. The first layer is the outline, which is the basic shape of the tattoo. The second layer is the fill, which fills in the colors and details of the tattoo. The third layer is the shading, which adds depth and dimension to the tattoo. And finally, the fourth layer is the highlights, which add brightness and contrast to the tattoo. Each layer takes time and cares to perfect, so a good artist will usually take their time with each one. This ensures that the tattoo looks its best when it’s finished.

If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, be sure to ask your artist how many layers they plan on using for your particular design. This will give you an idea of how much time and effort will go into creating your tattoo. And it’s always a good idea to ask for references from previous clients so you can see the quality of their work.

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Tattoo Skin Layers

Layers of a tattoo can be broken down into three different types: the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous. The deeper layers are also referred to as hypodermis or fascia depending on what you’re reading about.

The first layer is called the epidermis which protects our body from viruses, bacteria, and other environmental factors that could harm us like extreme heat or cold. This topmost part of the skin is constantly renewing itself by shedding dead cells while new cells grow at its base; this creates the next layer known as the dermis (or corium). It contains blood vessels, hair follicles, and nerve endings which make it thicker than most parts of skin throughout your body making up to 80% of all skin. It is also where the pigment from tattoos is deposited into the bottom layer known as subcutaneous tissue which contains fat cells, hair follicles, and nerve endings that connect to your spine.

This is the layer that’s responsible for the sensation you feel when someone touches your tattoo as well as the amount of ink absorption. If you have a design with lots of colors, it will likely require more layers than a black and white piece because each color has to be deposited into the skin one at a time. That’s also why tattoos fade over time – because the ink isn’t sitting in that deep layer where it can be protected from sun exposure and other elements. So if you want your tattoo to last as long as possible, make sure to keep it covered up when you’re outside!

Brief Overview of How Tattoos Are Created and What Makes Them Permanent

  • The layers of the epidermis contain melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells. These are responsible for giving tattoos their color and also act as filters against sun damage.
  • The dermal layers consist largely of connective tissue (collagen) fibers which may or may not contain elastic fibers in addition. Tattoos consist primarily of collagen I & III, so they take on a yellow/orange look under UV light instead of blue like most other biological tissues. The tattoo ink is mainly composed of these dermal layers. This gives them their permanent nature because it makes it difficult for white blood cells to penetrate into the area with the injected particles making removal very difficult if not impossible through the body’s natural filtering systems. Although, some pigments may absorb into the lymphatic system and be filtered out through it as well.

Needle Depth for Shading

When shading with a tattoo needle, the depth of penetration can vary depending upon your intention.

  • Shade Styles – Blended Shading: When you are doing lines that will blend into other lines or colors it is best to go shallow in order not to disrupt them/interrupt them by putting too much pigment underneath their surface. Use caution when going deep because if you get too far down there is even more risk for disrupting color and line work by inserting ink where it should not be placed. For this type of shading use shallower angles (30 degrees) which allows less bleeding but also gives fuller coverage without putting so much pressure on the skin while shading an area.
  • Shade Styles – Deep Shading: Sometimes when working in darker areas like black and gray it is more effective to go deeper with your shading. This can be used when you want the area to look dimensional and “pop-off” of its surface.
  • Lighter Skin Tones vs Darker Skintones: When working on black skin, or even other colors like olive, tan, etc., it is better to use shallower angles because they are more sensitive than Caucasian skin which will accept darker pigment while still maintaining its integrity.
  • Working in the direction that the hair grows also makes for a cleaner-looking tattoo. If you work against the grain then there is potential for scarring in the worst-case scenario; however most likely some redness/irritation should subside within a few days.

Tattoo Depth and Speed

When it comes to getting a tattoo, one of the most important things to consider is depth and speed. You want to make sure that you go deep enough so that the ink is deposited into the skin, but not so deep that you cause pain or damage. You also want to make sure that the needle moves quickly across the skin so that you don’t cause too much pain or discomfort. Talk to your tattoo artist about how deep and fast they can work, and make sure to let them know if there are any areas where you want them to be extra careful.

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The recommended depth for tattoos is around 0.25 – 0.35 inches below the surface of the skin. This will ensure that the ink is deposited into the skin, but not so deep that you cause pain or damage.


Some tattooists recommend going with a speed of around twelve to fifteen inches per second. Others may go as fast as twenty-five or faster, but it’s important that you let them know if there are any areas where they need to be extra careful.

How to Set Up a Tattoo Gun Needle Depth

It is important to set the needle depth correctly on your tattoo gun in order to achieve the best results possible. The needle depth affects both the color and appearance of the tattoo, so it is worth taking some time to get it right. Try different depths on your machine until you find the setting that produces the desired effect. Remember, practice makes perfect! Most artists recommend setting the needle depth at around 0.25-0.35 mm for most tattoos. You may need to adjust this depth depending on the thickness of your client’s skin or the type of tattoo you’re doing. Always consult with your artist before making any changes to your machine settings! They know what works best for their particular style of tattooing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between a tattoo needle and shot needles?

Tattoo needles and shot needles both have a specific purpose. Tattoo needles are used to create the design on your skin, while shot needles are used for tattooing larger areas of skin that can’t be reached with a regular needle. Tattoo artists use these different tools depending on their preference, skill level, and how much detail they want to put into the tattoo.

Shot needles are a better option for larger tattoos that don’t need as much detail. Tattoo artists can use shot needles more quickly, which means they’re able to complete the tattoo faster and spend less time working on one area of skin. Shot needle kits come with multiple-sized needles so you can create different effects in your work or switch up the needles throughout the process.

Although tattoo artists can use shot needles to create tattoos that are just as detailed, this method is typically used when speed and efficiency are more important than intricate details. Shot needle kits come in many different sizes so you’ll be able to choose a size that will work best for your needs. Smaller-sized needles allow you to do fine detail work while larger ones make it easier for you to cover large areas of skin quickly without sacrificing quality or time spent working on one area of skin.

How far should the tattoo needle stick out?

The answer to this question really depends on the person getting the tattoo and the size of the tattoo. Generally, the needle should be sticking out about a millimeter from the skin. However, if you are getting a larger tattoo, then the needle may need to be sticking out further in order to create smooth lines and curves. always consult with your artist to get their professional advice on how far the needle should protrude.

How deep should a tattoo needle penetrate the skin?

Ink can be inserted as far as the needles allow. The depth of insertion depends on how much penetration is necessary to deposit ink into the dermis layer where it stays permanently.

The end goal for a tattoo artist is that their client will have a beautiful, fresh-looking tattoo with solid black lines and rich coloration after healing – not one filled with scar tissue or redness from bleeding out at its base.

It is important to select a design that can be accomplished with one sitting, so the client does not have to return for multiple sessions and risk infection or further scarring. A well-designed tattoo will heal beautifully in eight weeks’ time, but only if it isn’t overworked during its creation process! Tattooing should never be painful; this means either numbing an area before needle insertion or avoiding sensitive areas altogether until they are fully healed. Piercing too deeply can damage nerves – especially when working near joints – which may cause pain later on as the body heals itself from trauma at the site. If you feel a sharp prickling sensation while being tattooed, tell your artist immediately.

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How many needles are in a tattoo gun?

A tattoo gun has between one and eight needles. The number of needles in a tattoo gun affects its ability to create different types of tattoos. A four-needle gun is good for basic designs, while a seven-needle gun can create more intricate designs. Eight needles are generally used only for shading.

The type of needle also affects the tattooing process. Hollow needles are better for outlining because they deposit less ink than solid needles. Solid needles are better for filling in large areas because they deposit more ink in a shorter amount of time.

There are also different sizes of needles available, depending on the size of the tattoo you want. Smaller tattoos need smaller needles, while larger tattoos require larger needles. You should always consult with your tattoo artist to determine the best needle size for your tattoo.

How to set tattoo needle depth?

In order to know how deep your tattoo needles should be inserted, you’ll need to use a marking pen and ruler.

Ink is being injected into the body at varying depths – some ink needs to stay close to the epidermis while other designs require pigment pushed deeper into the dermis. Marking along where you want these different depths will allow for a more precise custom job upon completion. First, make sure that everyone knows what area of their arm they would like tattooed (upper forearm, lower forearm, etc.). If someone wants something across both upper arms then this can also be marked on each limb. Once all areas have been marked off with corresponding measurements it’s time to set up the machine itself!

On the grip of your tattoo machine, there will be a dial that adjusts the needle stroke depth. There are two types of machines which require different settings depending on whether they’re coil or rotary.” We recommend consulting with an experienced professional before attempting to work out how deep you want each marking (if any) to go/how far apart you’ll need them spaced etc., as this can vary wildly between clients and designs!

Start by laying the grip of your machine flat on a table with its heel touching one side and its tat handle facing up.

You should then take your needles out of their packaging, insert them into the tubes that will attach to your grip, and tighten down each screw carefully until it’s snug against the tube without being too tight. This is necessary for inserting ink properly as well as preventing skin damage from squeezing the needle through multiple layers of skin during insertion or removal.

Once your machine is set up, you are ready to begin tattooing! Hold onto the tube in one hand and turn the adjustment knob on the grip with your other until you reach the desired depth for each marking.” Start small – only do a little at first so that any mistakes can be corrected without having too much ink already applied. Make sure that all needles have been inserted correctly before beginning by testing them out on paper or into fruit/vegetables if available (avoid using fingers). Test this out slowly at first before getting faster just to make sure there aren’t any problems arising from incorrect needle insertion- it’s better to find out now than when someone has paid good money expecting a perfect piece of customized artwork!”

Final Verdict

When it comes to how deep a tattoo needle should go, there is no definitive answer. It depends on the person’s skin type and the desired outcome of the tattoo. A good rule of thumb is to go as deep as necessary to deposit the ink in the layer of skin where it will be most visible. In some cases, that may mean going deeper than the average person is comfortable with. Ultimately, it is up to the artist to make the final call on how deep to pierce the skin.

Thanks for reading! I hope this article was helpful in answering your question about how deep a tattoo needle should go. If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to contact me directly. I hope you enjoyed this post and best of luck with your future tattoo!