Home » How Deep Does a Tattoo Needle Go? (Complete Guide!)

How Deep Does a Tattoo Needle Go? (Complete Guide!)

A tattoo is not something anyone needs any introduction to. In the US, over 50% of the population under 40 has some sort of tattoo inked on their body.

That alone speaks to the rising popularity of tattoos. So, naturally, one must learn as much as possible about this art.

One of the first questions anyone keen on this art would ask is how deep tattoo needles go. The answer is around 1/16th of an inch of the skin. While it may not sound like a lot, it can still be a painful activity. Learning more about this is crucial, which we will cover here.

Understanding the Tattooing Process

Tattooing is a much more complicated process than one might assume just by looking at it. The ink is inserted into the dermis layer of the skin.

The method of tattooing involves pain, infection, and scarring – all common side effects of the process. Therefore, the need for one to understand what they are getting into.

How Does A Tattoo Work?

How Does A Tattoo Work
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Tattoos are a form of permanent body art that is applied to the skin using indelible ink. Getting a tattoo involves placing a stencil over the area where the tattoo is to be applied and then injecting ink into the skin through a needle.

Tattoos are made by embedding pigments into layers of skin with an instrument called a tattoo gun, which uses compressed air to push the pigment through the tool.

The needles used in tattoos vary in size depending on how much ink will be needed for each layer, with larger needles used for thicker layers and smaller needles used for finer lines.

What are Tattoo Needles?

What are Tattoo Needles
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Tattoo needles are long, thin needles puncture the skin and inject ink. They are usually made of steel, titanium, or stainless steel.

The most common material is steel because it is lightweight and easy to shape into a needle that can be used for tattooing ink into the skin.

Titanium is also a popular material because it has properties that make it an ideal choice for its durability, strength, and corrosion resistance. Stainless steel is also used because it is durable but expensive compared to other materials.

Tattoo needles vary in size and shape. The most common length is about 8 millimeters (mm), with a diameter of 0.5 mm to 1 mm. However, particular types of tattoo needles can be up to 2 meters long with a diameter of up to 4 mm.

Tattoo machines use these needles for the tattooing healing process. Depending on the type of tattooing, the needle size varies. A smaller needle will typically be used for small tattoos, while a larger one will be needed for larger tattoos.

How Does a Tattoo Machine Work?

How Does a Tattoo Machine Work
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Tattoo machines are used to create permanent tattoos. They are usually made of a needle, ink, and a power source. The device is connected to the power source, and the needle is connected to the ink.

Tattoo machines puncture the skin with a needle, which injects ink into the skin’s dermis layer. The tattoo machine repeatedly punctures the skin until enough ink has been injected into it to be visible on the skin surface when viewed under normal light conditions.

The depth at which the tattoo needle has pierced the skin is critical, as the more profound the ink is deposited, the longer the tattoo ink will last.

But one has to be extremely careful here. If the ink is too deep, it could cause serious issues such as infection and skin irritation – no one wants that.

One must connect with an experienced tattoo artist to ensure they get the best possible result for their tattoo design while preventing any future complications.

The Correct Tattoo Needle Depth

The Correct Tattoo Needle Depth
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Worried about how deep do tattoo needles go? We have already mentioned the adverse effects that one could experience by going too deep with their tattoo needle. But what does that mean exactly?

To understand this, one must first focus on one of the essential factors of the tattooing process – the skin.

The human body comprises three skin layers: epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis.

  • Epidermis: This layer protects our bodies from harsh external conditions, such as cold and heat. The epidermis has a significant role in regulating your body temperature via sweat glands and sensory nerve endings. The epidermis comprises two layers – the stratum corneum and the stratum granulosum.
  • Dermis: It is the layer of skin that lies just below the epidermis. It has many sensory receptors and is responsible for protecting the body from harm. The dermis is also the body’s largest organ and helps detect pain, temperature, and touch, among other things.
  • Hypodermis: The hypodermis layer is the deepest layer of the skin. This layer is also referred to as “the second skin.” The hypodermis layer protects against environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, chemicals, and pathogens. It also provides insulation from extreme cold and heat.

The Dermis layer is the intended area where the tattoo needle should go. It is perfect for depositing the tattoo ink and ensuring that it would not bleed out as it heals over time.

The epidermis layer is not suitable for this purpose as it is the external layer and would not be able to protect the ink from getting into contact with external factors such as sunlight, pollution, and more.

The hypodermis is also unsuitable as not only would the individual experience double the pain from the tattoo process, but there is a high risk of them contracting an infection.

This is why the tattoo needle would have to go 1/16th inch deep in the skin or 2mm of the dermis layer.

Understanding the Impact of Incorrect Placement of Tattoo Ink

Understanding the Impact of Incorrect Placement of Tattoo Ink
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We have already briefly mentioned the negative consequences of incorrect placement of tattoo ink. Still, it is a topic that needs more focus. So, let’s get onto it.

What if the Tattoo Needle Goes Too Shallow?

If the tattoo ink is not deposited in the correct location, and the needle has only gone shallow, then the ink would be more than likely deposited in the epidermis layer – the topmost layer of the skin.

There are no significant health risks of depositing tattoo ink in the epidermis layer; however, in some cases, it has shown infections in the individuals – something you need to be on the lookout for.

However, the most significant impact one would see is the quick erosion of the tattoo ink from the tattooed area. That is because the tattoo ink would not settle in the skin, and with the epidermal cells renewing themselves, the permanent tattoo would not be so permanent anymore.

What If the Tattoo Needle Goes too Deep Into the Skin?

The tattoo needle going too deep into the skin is more concerning.

When a needle is first introduced into the dermis, minor bleeding and irritation can occur. However, if it enters the hypodermis layer, one’s pain increases significantly.

In addition, if a needle enters the hypodermis and deposits ink too deep in the skin, the risk of infection becomes significantly higher.

Tattoos that go too deep can open the skin’s pores, and it may lead to a lot of problems. It might even range from infections, nerve damage, or painful scarring.

If that sounds scary to you, then it is. That is why connecting with a tattoo artist is recommended, and not trying to DIY the tattoo inking process yourself.

What If the Tattoo ink Enters the Bloodstream?

A little bit of tattoo ink does enter the bloodstream even when the process has been carefully navigated – it is not a severe issue. Our body and its immune system are well equipped to break down the tiny amount of tattoo ink deposited in the process. However, if the content is high, that is a different issue.

Suppose a high amount of content is deposited in the bloodstream. In that case, the individual would likely face infection or toxicity issues. In such situations, connecting with a doctor for emergency care would be recommended.

What to Expect During a Tattoo Session?

Getting tattooed is more challenging and painless than you think it will be. There are many things to consider before you get inked, so here are some things to expect during a tattoo session.

  • You should consider the location of the tattoo first. Some places on the body can be more sensitive than others and require more care.
  • The artist may ask for a temporary bandage or wrap to cover up your private parts while they work on your skin. It will also help protect you from any potential infections or allergic reactions that might occur while they work on your skin.
  • The artist will use an instrument called a needle to puncture your skin and inject ink into it. It might feel like a sharp pinch, but it’s not as bad as it sounds, especially if you’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time.
  • Once the ink has been injected into your skin, some bleeding usually occurs. It is natural and should not be alarming.
  • If the artist decides to apply a top coat of color, they will use a paintbrush to apply it once their skin has stopped bleeding. The same care should be taken in covering your private parts as if you were getting a bandage or wrap.
  • The artist will offer bandages or wraps to keep with you as an aftercare product so that any bleeding can be covered up and kept at bay after the tattoo.

Should You Be Worried About Tattoos Hurting Your Health?

Tattoos have been around for centuries and are used in many cultures to mark a person’s status. However, many people believe that tattoos may be harmful to your health. It’s a topic that is up for debate.

It is worth noting that tattoos are permanent and not easily removed unless done through laser removal. If you’re considering getting a tattoo, it’s essential to research the risks and benefits of getting one yourself before committing to it.

Common Mistakes That People Make When Getting a Tattoo

Common Mistakes That People Make When Getting a Tattoo
Image Source: 3d-tatt.blogspot

Tattooing is a popular and common form of body modification.

It is done for various reasons, such as expressing individuality, personalizing a body part, or symbolizing a particular event. But getting a tattoo can also be risky, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when getting their tattoos:

1. Not Knowing What They Want to Get Tattooed

If you have yet to decide what you want to get tattooed, then it’s best not to get one. It is because so many things can go wrong with it, and it looks completely different than what was initially intended.

2. Getting Too Much Done in One Sitting

It’s best not to get too much done in one sitting because it increases your chances of infection and complications with the tattoo process. Doing this will also increase your risk of being charged more for the same work that would have been done over a long period.

3. Getting Your Tattoo Done in a Dirty Environment

Do your research on the shop and the area where you are about to get your tattoo and ensure that it’s as clean as possible before getting started. A dirty environment can lead to infections which can be difficult or impossible to cure without professional help.

4. Not Having Their Tattoos Touched Up By a Professional Artist Regularly

Most people will only get their tattoos touched up to change colors and for repairs, but having them touched up more regularly will help prevent the ink from becoming too faded.


Tattoos are undoubtedly an excellent way to express oneself to the broader world. But understanding the tattooing process and the elements involved is crucial in getting the perfect result.

And with this article, now you know everything there is to know about the correct depth for the tattoo needle.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!