When it comes to tattoo needles – there are a lot to choose from! Each needle allows for getting the ink into the skin in a different way with various tattoo effects. In this post, we explore what the sizes mean and also the different ways each needle works on your skin. Keep in mind that this is an ever evolving and highly subjective topic. Tattoo artists use different needles based on their preference and style. Stick and Poke tattoos were historically done with needle and thread. Now we just use tattoo needles 😉
Our new PRACTICE KIT includes an instructional poster that graphically explains some of this really nicely. Here is some more info:
Tattoo Needles Explained Easy
Needle Types, General
RL = Round Liner – for lining and outlining.
RS= Round Shader – for shading.
MS = Magnum Shader – are for shading in large areas. Can be a curved shader, which is a bit gentler on the skin.
F= Flat – these are for shading within geometric designs.
The number before the needle type indicates the number of needle tips soldered together at the end.
“3RL” is three little tips that each carry a little ink. This is for a narrow line.
“5RL” is a five little tips that will create a thicker line than the 3RL and so on….up to like 20!
Bugpin needles and supertight (ST, XT) needles refer to the closeness of the needle tips at the poking end. These are for very tight, dark lines. These needles are usually more expensive.
Is how much the needles taper at the end. Standard taper is 1.5mm. These can go up to 8mm! A greater taper is used for extensive shading with less trauma to the skin.
Standard thickness is 0.35mm or #12. Ink will appear to flow faster down a wider diameter needle, speeding up the tattoo. More precision is possible with thinner needles.
If the needle package says: “1203 RL” that means, “#12 thickness, 3 Round Liner.” Our kits all include standard thickness.
What are single needle tattoos?
Single needle tattoos are tattoos done with single needles- such as a 1RL. These have only one needle tip. Each poke only deposits one very small dot of ink. This technique allows for a delicate, intricate, fine tattoo. This often takes longer than a tattoo using multiple needle tips. Some single needle designs are truly amazing! You can practice these using our Practice Kit.
Hello! I did some stick and pokes about 4 years ago with an India ink which I can’t remember the brand name of and a sewing needle. They’re both about 2 inches circular (a sun and a moon) on my ankle. Now back then there was little information about what inks to use, what needles were appropriate and how to sanitize needles; luckily I did not ever get an infection and the tattoos both came out pretty dark and faded a pretty blue-ish color.
Now what I’m wondering about is toxicity of India ink and chrome from needles, and how long it would take for effects to be considered benign or if there could be long term effects from some of those compounds.
I’m not sure that you all would have any information on this but figured I’d ask. I would assume that if there was some ill effects I would have noticed that they would have been apparent by now but with the pigment still being in your skin one can’t help but look at it and wonder!
Thanks for your time and would love a second opinion!
I am unaware of the toxicity of these materials on your body as a result of diy tattooing with india ink and a needle. Unfortunately, few studies have been done on any ink in skin, however with the popularity of all types of tattoos, I’d hope there will start to be more. It is my unprofessional opinion that small amounts of toxins can be responded to by the body in a variety of ways and it depends on your environment, body, health and all that to figure out how harmful it truly was for you.
I hope that helps 😉
PS I have some india ink in me too and I don’t worry too much. The black ink in our kit is not too far off from what is in india ink…I lose more sleep about oil companies polluting our air, soil and water!!! The effects of that is likely to be greater….
hi i ordered your stick and poke set (to austria), just wanna say thanks, it was really fast, everything perfect.
now i have a question regarding the ink: is it possible to use the ink bottles for more than one tattoo? if you always fill the ink to the little jar? because if not, why is it in these big bottles ?
thank you, rosa
It is safe to re-use ink in the sealed bottle (within like a few months) if it is not contaminated in the process of the first use. 🙂 Needles – not the case!
Please can you tell me if your kits are suitable for vegans?
Use your words. I can’t tell what your problem actually is.
2. You’re probably selling to kids!
I work very hard to keep this kit away from those under 18. My payment does not allow funds from a person who is under 18. I market to only over 18 advertising on google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. If I suspect someone is not 18, I cancel the order. Packaging is plain, there is no fun mascot and there is no candy. I really wanted to put candy, because I like candy and it would be cool to have like a Swedish fish in there, but I don’t want kids to want it for the candy and slyly steal parent’s credit cards and then bribe the mail man in order to get the candy in the kit. This kit, I readily admit, contains two of the MOST dangerous things in this world: Information and sharp needles! You can’t get those things anywhere really. (That is the secret to my success).
3. You are creating dangerous new behaviors!
Stick and poking has been happening since early human times. Modern DIY tattooing or stick and poke tattooing is from punk culture and often carries meaning for the stick and poker. This practice is at least as old as the band The Runaways. It is now a new fad borne at least partially from people wanting to avoid tattoo bros. Just kidding! I was projecting there. (see “Real talk” below).
4. You are spreading disease!
This company takes Blood Borne Pathogens very seriously. The instructions show a person how to prevent the spread of serious disease, and also bacterial infection. A big improvement on the classic Stick and Poke experience. Also, here is an important note that people forget: tattoo shops are exposed to the blood of several strangers per day. A person in their own house will have their own blood, and maybe a roomate or partner’s blood. In which scenario is Hep C more likely to spread across the general population?
If a sticknpoker is in a room all alone, does their tattoo really exist? Only you can answer this.
5. Tattooing is for professionals ONLY. I’ve never heard of this terrible act called Stick and Poke! &*#^@!
That’s like, your opinion, bro. There are a few types of tattooing and only one is the one where you go to a shop and a tatted up bro dude (or nice lady) is ready with a machine (gun) to give you a bunch of attitude. Just kidding, I actually know many nice professional tattoo artists. If I want a big beautiful tattoo, I go to them. If I want a meaningful hand poke, I do it myself.
Real talk: I know a lot of people who are reluctant to enter the atmosphere of many tattoo shops – they tend be (but aren’t always) white male (culture) dominated places that feel less safe for women, trans people and people of color. Imagery and vibe are very important when someone is doing something vulnerable with their body, like a tattoo. Thank goodness the bay area has so many tattoo artists that create a warm environment for all people. I imagine this is not the case in those red states/counties.
There are also Traditional Hand-poked Tattoos and those have meaning for people in cultures where tattooing signifies rites of passage, etc. I have some history in my Tattoo Instruction Guide if you want to read about it. The main point is that tattooing is a diverse form of body modification. There is not need for tattoo bros to get up in arms about people safely poking themselves. You don’t own adult people’s bodies, or skin or decision-making. This kit allows for those inclined to hand-poke, to do it. It is empowering, safe when done correctly, and often all around lovely experience.
6. That is illegal.
Tattooing someone else outside of a licensed shop is illegal in some states. Tattooing yourself at home is not illegal. (Wouldn’t that be dumb if that was illegal?!) Side Note: Tattoo shops can legally use ANY ink on their clients in all states. Ink is unregulated. Legality and regulation does not equal safety.
7. That isn’t sterile!
Very few things in tattoo shops are sterile. Almost none. A sterile environment is for surgery. Tattooing is not surgery, in fact it is only skin deep. Here are some things that are not sterile: gloves on people who give you shots, gloves on tattoo artists, the medical bib that the stuff is on, all tattoo shops inks & bottles. It is very difficult to keep things sterile. There is no need to, really. Clean & sanitary – YES those are important. The kit allows you to keep a very clean/sanitary environment and skin to prevent infection. Autoclaves and now disposable (sterile) needles and grips give peace of mind for everyone in the industry that HIV, hep C, etc are not spreading client to client. With the kit, the needles, ink, bandaid, alcohol pads, witch-hazel pad, aftercare balm, stencil-stuff are sterile (and vegan). These are all individually packaged and one-time use. That is actually more sterile things in the kit than in a tattoo shop. Also, since only one person can use the kit once, it guarantees that disease cannot be spread.
8. I don’t like you!
That’s fine. You are a big strong important man with amazing artistic abilities and a beard. You too are worthy of love. Never forget that.
We hear that people want to try more needle types in order to create a thicker line and do some other tricks. We are therefore phasing these into our EXPERT KIT. After your initial kit, you can get an Expert kit, which now contains three 7 Round Liners! That is seven little itty bitty needles mushed onto the needle shaft. These little ones hold ink and create a thicker line. (3 Round Liners are 3 little ones, 5 is five and so on…) Enjoy!
Expert Kit // $ 42.00-$63.00
9 needles ( 3 of each: 3RL & 5RL & 7RL)
One to five 1/2 oz.(15 mL) professional tattoo inks (color ink above).
2 Packets natural aftercare balm – Hustle Butter™
2 Stencil paper squares & 2 packets StencilStuff™ (vegan)
Mini glass ink jar & 2 ply poly-paper medical covering
We are glad to FINALLY help all those people out there who can’t free-hand poke a tattoo. Now, you can use this stencil to get an accurate line. At first I didn’t want to include one because of the questionable materials in thermal paper and the goo that holds it in place. After more research and many more tattoos – I realized that these guides are super helpful. I found some suppliers that are Vegan and non-toxic! Hooray! Enjoy this video and instruction….
Here is how to use this stuff:
Remove the white or off-white paper that is between the inky paper and top white paper.
Draw on the top white sheet so that the ink paper transfers the art to top white paper.
Detach the paper with the artwork and cut around it using scissors.
Put on gloves and prepare the soap and water cleaned skin area by rubbing it with the alcohol pad provided in the kit.
Dab a dime sized drop of StencilStuff & wipe on THIN and EVEN layer onto the region – making sure to cover the tattoo area and a few inches beyond. It should not be a wet surface – just damp. You might have to wipe it with a dry hand or dab with a paper towel
Carefully place the paper on the skin (inked side down on skin) of the area. Hold in place and still for 20 seconds.
Peel it off and let the skin dry for at least 5 minutes. The stencil should last several wipes. To remove, use soap and water. Wrong placement? You can reuse the stencil paper a few times before the ink runs out.
NOTE: If you are using white ink, you will want to wipe the stencil off until it is nearly gone. This is because the stencil ink will get poked into the skin and color it a little bit along with the white.