Needles are among the most important tools for tattoo artists. Four factors are used to classify needles: count, configuration, diameter, and taper. The count indicates the number of needles grouped together at the bar point. Configuration indicates how the needles are grouped together, such as in a round formation or line. Diameter indicates the size of the needle, with the most common sizes being #6, #8, #10, and #12. These sizes range from 0.20mm for #6 needles up to 0.35mm for #12 needles.
Needles can be divided into four categories based on these factors. Round needles are used for lining (RL), shading (RS) and for adding technical details. Flat (F) needles are most used for lining because they can insert more ink into the customer’s skin. Both weaved magnum (M1) and stacked magnum (M2) needles feature an alternating pattern for blending, coloring, and shading. The main difference is that stacked magnum needles are stacked tighter together than weaved for working in tighter areas. Round magnum (RM) needles are arranged in a curved arch and feature the same pattern as weaved magnums.
Tattoo artists need to follow proper safety measures to avoid putting your customers in harm’s way. Needles should never be reused, as they can spread disease such as hepatitis, tetanus, tuberculosis and even HIV from one customer to another (single-use kits should be used). Customers are advised to watch their tattoo artist open kits and remove the new needle and tube.
Other issues, such as dust around the workstation or ink contaminated with chemicals, can also contaminate needles. Again, proper sanitation is key. Artists should also review the medical history of their customers to avoid allergic reactions from the chemicals or ink used. Also, make sure you always wash your hands before starting work on a customer.