There are no specific stick and poke tattoo needles, people either use the not-recommended sewing needles or the best by far professional tattoo needles
When it comes to professional tattoo needles, there’s a wide range to choose from, so knowing how to differentiate them can result in a better piece.
Let’s take a quick look at everything you need to know about stick and poke needles before getting your next tattoo.
Sewing vs. Tattoo Needles
Professional tattoo needles are safe, inexpensive, and a lot more precise when compared to sewing needles, which are not ideal for body ink by any stretch. Sewing needles don’t give you as much control and they don’t retain ink as well as professional tattoo accessories. Furthermore, stick and poke needles are sharper and easier to clean, plus they remain sterile for longer periods.
Tattoo needle properties
Professional tattoo needles are designed for machine tattooing, however, you can also use them for hand poke tattooing. The needles are generally composed of a group of small needles soldered around a central shaft:
When the shaft is composed of one soldered needle, it is called a single needle, or one round liner (1RL).
The name of each tattoo needle is defined by four properties: diameter, taper, count, and configuration.
The diameter of the needles is measured in millimeters, but is marked in round numbers. For example, 25 stands for 0.25 millimeters.
The taper or point length indicates the shape of the needle point. Different manufacturers have their own specs for what taper they use. A standard short taper is usually 1.5mm. A long taper would be 2.0mm. Extremely long tapers can go as much as 7mm.
The count indicates the number of needles soldered together at the point of the bar.
Configuration or grouping indicates how the needles are grouped together. There is an infinite number of needle configurations, but most of them fall into one of three basic categories:
- Round tattoo needles, soldered around a central shaft in round patterns. Round needles can be liners or shaders, depending on how close together they are placed.
- Flat tattoo needles, soldered in a straight line to a needle bar. These needles are the most popular for lining.
- Magnum tattoo needles, for almost all shading work. These configurations have a longer taper that’s either the same or greater than the taper found on round shaders. There are a few variations of magnum: Weaved, stacked, round, and curved.
How to choose your stick and poke tattoo needle
These features are detailed on the needles packages or listed with the product description. However, the way they are presented differs from website to website. Each individual sterile needle package will also indicate an expiration date.
A popular configuration for stick and poke tattoos are the RL and RS needles, which are acronyms for Round Liner and Round Shader needles. A round needle has a formation of needles in a tight circular formation which is used for lining or shading and is the most popular choice among hand pokers. However, don’t hesitate to try different needle configurations to develop your style. You can find cheap packages of assorted needles online, so don’t be afraid to do your research and test some of these out.
Now that you know the basics, here are our recommendations:
- Use professional tattoo needles instead of sewing needles.
- If in doubt, start with 3 or 5 round liners.
- Try various stick and poke needle types and experiment in a fake skin.
- Use each stick and poke needle ONLY ONCE.