How Deep Does a Tattoo Needle Go 

Table of Contents

Most people are fearful of getting a tattoo because of the needle and how deep we think it goes. However, believe it or not, getting a tattoo can be an enjoyable experience if you go to the right artist and studio. The needles don’t go that deep, and in this article, we will take a look at how deep a tattoo needle actually goes, how to tell if the artist has gone too deep, how to fix it, and what happens when the artist goes too shallow. But first, we need to understand the human skin. 

The Skin

Your skin is made up of 3 main layers, namely:

  • The epidermis
  • The dermis 
  • The hypodermis (subcutaneous tissue layer)

The epidermis is the top layer of the skin and keeps your skin hydrated, produces new skin cells, and determines the color of your skin. The dermis is the layer below your epidermis and is composed of collagen, nerve endings, hair follicles, sweat glands, and elastic tissue. It protects your body from harm and aids in feeling sensations. The hypodermis is the bottom layer of skin and has many important jobs like storing energy, connecting the dermis to your bones and muscles, and insulating your body. 

If the tattoo ink is deposited into the epidermis, it will not stay as this is the outer layer of skin that sheds and the ink would not last long at all in this layer of skin. If the ink is deposited into the subcutaneous tissue layer, a blowout will occur, making the tattoo appear blurry, which is something that we want to avoid at all costs.  We want the ink to be deposited under 5 layers of skin and into the dermis, as this is where the sweat glands and hair follicles are and where the ink will stay. To put it simply, the tattoo needle only goes around 1/16th of an inch (or 1.5mm) into the skin. 

Tattoo artists who work in professional studios know which layer of skin to deposit the ink under as they have been trained to know how to feel for the “sweet spot”. Tattoo needles, such as the Yilong Yellow Dragonfly III Cartridge Needles,  are also not designed to go much deeper than that, so rest assured that no artist will be able to seriously injure you when wielding a tattoo machine! 

The Needle

Another thing you will need to understand when it comes to tattoo needle depth is how a tattoo needle looks and works. A tattoo needle consists of a metal bar made of steel with small needles soldered onto it in different groupings, depending on the configuration the artist is using. This can be as small as one needle and as large as 14 needles for a round liner. The needles are individually sterilized and are used with a tattoo machine and special tattoo ink to create a beautiful tattoo. 

There is a misconception that the needle deposits the ink under the skin. The needle punctures your skin around 100 times per second. Once the small puncture is made, the ink is deposited onto the skin. When the needles come out of the skin it creates a vacuum seal that pulls the ink into the hole that was created where it stays permanently.  Tattoo needles need to be disposed of after every single client to prevent the spread of diseases. It is important to make sure that your tattoo artist follows proper hygiene practices and if you suspect that they are reusing needles – run! 


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