Best Needles for Stick and Poke Tattoos

Stick and poke needles are specialized tools that allow you to create DIY tattoos at home. Learn more about the different stick and poke needles today!

Over the years, people have gotten increasingly creative with how they do their stick and poke tattoos. One of the most common ways is with a sewing needle. This form of inking can still produce good results but it’s dangerous and it doesn’t offer as much control, so it’s not the same as using a stick and poke needle.

Moreover, sewing needles don’t retain ink as well as DIY tattoo needles and they’re not as safe because they have a higher chance of infection. They’re also not as sharp so they can be more painful to use. The best needles for stick and poke tattoos are by far, those bought from a professional tattoo accessories supplier.

That being said, there are a variety of professional stick and poke tattoo needles to choose from, all with different properties. In truth, there is no best needle for stick and poke tattoos as these all come with their own unique set of advantages. Here’s everything you need to know about these types of needles:

What Makes a Stick and Poke Needle Different?

Stick and poke needles are the same as those used with a tattoo machine. They are, however, completely different from sewing needles. Their main differentiator is that they are made up of groups of small needles. This is what makes them so much better at retaining ink. These small needles are soldered to a shaft, making them easier to handle. Typically, when there is only one needle soldered to the shaft, this is called one round liner (1RL).

There are a variety of needles to choose from and all of them provide different results when tattooing. Some of the different characteristics to look out for include:

  • Configuration or the arrangement and quantity of small needles they’re made up of
  • Taper or the length of the point
  • Diameter

These characteristics are detailed on the packaging of the needle and differ from one needle brand to another. However, the item number should provide you with a variation of these characteristics. Professional needle packaging should also include an expiration date based on when the needle was sterilized.

Understanding Needle Clusters

When it comes to understanding stick and poke needle clusters, there are two factors to consider: count and arrangement.

The Count

The count is the number of needles that are soldered together at the end of the shaft. When looking at the packaging on tattoo needles, the count will be indicated just before the letters in the item code.

The Arrangement

The arrangement of the needles is indicated by the letters you will see in the item code on the packaging. These letters refer to the way in which the small needles are clustered. Each code letter has a different meaning and configuration. Here are the main ones you will see on packaging as well as a definition of their meaning and configuration:

  • RL – Round Liner; Arranged in a circle.
  • RS – Round shader; Arranged in a circle.
  • F – Flat; Arranged in a straight line.
  • M1 – Weaved Magnum; Arranged in 2 weaved rows.
  • M2 – Stacked Magnum; Arranged in 2 stacked rows.

Round needles are some of the most popular as they are best for creating lines, especially, smaller detailed ones. Round shaders are typically used for slightly thicker, less delicate line work, and flat needles are great for creating geometric shapes.

Because of their weaved configuration, M1 and M2 needles are best for shading as they absorb and deliver ink into the skin. While each type of needle is made up of smaller ones, these small punctures are not visible to the naked eye and each needle will provide an even line.

The Length of the Needle

The length of the needle actually refers to the shape of the needle point, or the taper. These differ between manufacturers but are typically 1.55mm. These can go up to as much as 7mm. A longer and finer taper will provide you with more control when doing line work, however, you will sacrifice speed somewhat. Shorter tapers are best for filling in with color as they can provide quicker results. You may, however, want to avoid them when performing precision work.

The Different Sizes Available

The leading number on a tattoo needle’s packaging always refers to the diameter of the needle, or its size. There are only 5 sizes to choose from. These include #6, #8, #10, #12, and #13. The most popular one used for stick and poke tattoos is #12 with a diameter of 0.35mm. You may also want to use #10 or 0.30mm as it is great for finer lines.

The smaller the diameter, the less ink flow. That said, smaller needles such as #6 and #8 do provide more control. Needles such as #13 can be used for wider lines, however, they’re not as popular in the stick and poke community as they don’t offer as much control.

How to Choose the Best Needles for Stick and Poke Tattoos

The best needles for stick and poke tattoos are RLs and RSs, especially when you’re just starting out. The truth is, other needle types can be used but you’re best acquainting yourself with them once you have mastered simple lines and designs. Later, experimenting with different needle types will allow you to create shading and other textures in your tattoo designs.

If you’re thinking of creating your own stick and poke tattoos, why not order a DIY kit online? Our kits come with a variety of needles for you to choose from so that you can create the designs you want from the comforts of your home.