Helpful PMU Needle Sizes Advice You Absolutely Need to Know to Establish Your Career

There are just some things as a PMU artist you absolutely need to know and knowing your PMU needle sizes is one of those things. Needle size plays an important role in how you can create the perfect look for your clients. Different sizes can create different looks and control how much pigment you are using. Then there is the taper, count, length, and configuration to consider. In this article, we will be going through all this information so keep reading!



As the industry is evolving rapidly, new products are introduced everyday, including needles.

As a PMU artist, it is critical to understand different needle sizes, tapers, counts, configurations in order to make the right needle choice for your client.  

PMU Needle Sizes

PMU Needle Sizes 

  • Needle size is determined by needle diameter, where the thickness of the needle is at its widest point.
  • The diameter is the width of each individual needle extended from the needle bar, it is also referred as Gauge. Although they mean the same thing, different terminology is used to indicate the thickness of the needle.  
  • The Gauge number is widely used for tattoo needles, while diameter is most commonly used for PMU needles.
  • The narrower or thinner the diameter, the finer and more controlled the stream of ink flows.
  • For instance, 0.25mm (#8) in diameter delivers less and slower ink flow than 0.35mm (#12) in diameter.

NOTE: As a general rule, the thickness of needle diameter also impacts the ink flow.

PMU Needle Sizes

Needle Diameters Comparison 



Thickness of Needle

Size of Dot on Skin

Ink Flow



Extra thin

Tinnier dot

Controlled ink flow




Smaller dot

Less ink flow




Bigger dot

More ink flow

Needle Taper 

  • Needle taper indicates the length of the needle tip where the needle starts to narrow down. In other words, it indicates how long the tip is tapered.
  • Needles come in a variety of tapers, from short tapers to super long tapers. It is important to understand how each needle taper impacts the skin in order to optimize your work.

Note: As a general rule, short taper needles allow more ink flow from the needle while long taper needles deliver less ink. In other words, a longer taper gives you a better control over ink flow than a shorter taper.

Please see below for 6 taper length options.  The most popular taper in PMU is from ST to LT.


Standard (Short)



Long Taper



Double Long Taper



Extra Long Taper



Super Long Taper



Extra Super Long Taper



Although there are a wide range of needle taper selections, we will compare a short taper needle to a long taper needle.


Short Taper

Long Taper

Less ink flow

More ink flow

Larger ink dot

Smaller ink dot

More trauma to the skin

Less trauma to the skin

Builds colour quickly

Builds colour slowly

Ideal: If you are working on a larger area to pack in colour more quickly with less layers. It works well on thicker skin types as well.

Ideal: If you are working on a difficult area where it requires more precision work, you may want to use long tapered needles so that you can take your time to build colour slowly with more layers without damaging the skin. This taper works well on thinner skin types.

PMU Needle Sizes

Needle Count

  • Needle count is the number that indicates how many needles are grouped together at the point of the needle bar to make the needle.
  • It also refers to how many individual needles are attached to the needle bar.

Needle Configuration

  • The needle configuration indicates how the needles are soldered together.
  • Tattoo needles are categorized into 3 different groups depending on how they are formed: Round needle, Magnum needle, and Flat needle. 
  • They are further categorized into Liner and Shader needles. 
  • Depending on the usage, there is a distinctive difference between LINER and SHADER needles. Liner needles are formed close together while shader needles are formed further apart. For this reason, liner needles can achieve better compact shading compared to shader needles.
Round Needle | Lining & Outlining & Shading 

Round Shader


Shading small dots

Magnum Needle | Shading & Blending Large Areas

Weaved Magnums


Thick lines & shading

Stacked Magnums


Thick lines, outlines & shading

Curved Magnums


Shading & blending colours

Flat Needle | Lining & Shading

Flat Liner


Lines & outlines

Flat Shader




Small Needle

Big Needle


  • Requires less force to penetrate the skin due to smaller surface of the needle causing less trauma to the skin.
  • Provides more precision capabilities for detailed work
  • Finer and more controlled stream of pigment flow.
  • Less chance to penetrate deep into the skin, preventing pigment migration.


  • The surface area to push through the skin is smaller and there is higher chance to penetrate the skin deeper.
  • Higher chance of pigment migration due to the fact that it is easier to penetrate the skin with a smaller needle configuration.
  • Requires more force to penetrate the skin due to bigger surface of the needle.
  • Uncontrolled pressure may cause more trauma to the skin.
  • Easier to create section shading if you are not careful with your pressure.

Pro Tip: Needle Length 

  • Long: If you set your needle longer, less ink travels from the cartridge to skin.
  • Short: If you set your needle shorter, more ink travels from the cartridge to skin.
  • If too much pigment is dispersed onto skin, lengthen your needle so that less ink travels to skin. If you find that the ink pools onto the skin, it is best to lengthen your needle.
  • The needle length, when the machine is turned on, should stick out approximately 1.5mm - 2mm. We call this the "needle hang". 
  • Having the needle hang up to 2mm enables you to see the tip of the needle better and allows you to control the needle depth.

This DOES NOT mean you are inserting the entire needle into the skin. You are only grazing the tip of the needle onto the skin. Remember, the needle hang has nothing to do with the depth of the needle inserted into the skin.


Thanks so much for reading our blog on PMU needle sizes. Please drop us a comment if you have any questions, thanks!

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