6 Best Tattoo Needles in 2021: Works with the Rest of Your Gear

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According to an International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences entry, as many as 10% of all Americans have trypanophobia, an extreme and irrational fear of medical procedures that involve injections and needles.

This state of things explains the significant cajoling some clients need before submitting their skin for needlework that physicians and tattooists know so well and perhaps hate equally.

However, unfortunately, for people with trypanophobia, needles are critical to getting the job done in both of these cases.

Whether you are an amateur or a seasoned tattooist, needles form one of the essential parts of your operational kit, as, without the right set of needles, you can’t proceed with any of your tattooing jobs.

Tattoo needles (also known as tattoo cartridges) are the basal part of a tattoo machine that makes incisions into the dermis and releases ink to line or shade the skin to create portions of a tattoo piece.

The needle is also critical in determining the inking preciseness (especially with lining work as lining errors are harder to fix). Consequently, the quality of the needle can considerably influence the quality of your final artwork.

Hence, for both rising and established tattooists seeking to improve and put out their best possible work every time, choosing the right tattoo cartridges is one of the major keys.

To make this task easier for you, we have scoured the market and screened hundreds of offerings to bring you the best options you can get on the market today. Here are the best picks of all the needles you need to become a well-rounded artist.

Our Pick: Pirate Face Tattoo Assorted Needles Pack

Pirate Face Tattoo Assorted Needles Pack
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Whether you are a newbie who is unsure about the right gear for you or a pro who likes to pack on the specialty tools for your innovative art pieces, this is the one for you. This assorted needles pack from Pirate Face Tattoo offers one exciting proposition—more needles than you can use.

With this assorted needles pack, you have a mixed bag of needle sizes that serves as an excellent starter kit for any tattoo artist. In the box, you get a total of 100 professional-grade needles with ten pieces of each of the ten selected configurations (3RL, 5RL, 7RL, 9RL, 3RS, 5RS, 7RS, 9RS, 5M1, 7M1.)

This assortment of magnum shaders, round liners, and round shaders ensures that you have needles at the ready for almost any type of work. Whether you are lining or shading, the package contains enough variety to ensure you have something for the task and that you can get the job done in a variety of sizes.

Despite fitting a bumper 100 needles into this pack, Pirate Face Tattoo also offers decent quality at a fair price point that makes this offering one of the best value propositions on the market.

All the needles in this pack feature medical-grade stainless steel to ensure the maintain maximum sturdiness, resilience, and durability during use. The needles are also #12 standard size pieces, making them a perfect fit for most standard OEM and off-brand cartridge machines and tubes.

While these needles are by no means the best quality you will find, they are of a decent enough grade to rival most standard offerings and do so while offering superior bang-to-buck ratios, considering the amount of variety you get in this package.

We found a few complaints about users finding two to three bent needles per pack, but that is about it.

Pirate Face Tattoo also scored an A+ for packaging with this product.

All 100 needles are packed individually in separate sterile blister packets. You also get an expiry date tagged unto each needle’s packaging for an extra classy touch. If you are running a small scale operation and will keep some needles for a long time, this added feature will be quite handy.

If you seek a broad assortment of needles that will cover all your bases for expressive tattoo work and that will serve you for a while, you can’t go wrong with this mixed needles pack from Pirate Face Tattoo.

Highlights

  • 100 professional-grade single-use needles
  • Mixed package with ten different needle configurations: 3RL, 5RL, 7RL, 9RL, 3RS, 5RS, 7RS, 9RS, 5M1, 7M1
  • Medical-grade stainless steel construction
  • Individual expiry dates for each needle
  • Individually packed
  • Reasonably-priced

Tip: Before Using Your New Needles, Ensure that they:

Works with the Rest of Your Gear: a set of needles is useless if you don’t have the matching tools required to set them up for work. If you are getting standalone needles, ensure you already have a cartridge machine. Otherwise, make sure you have matching tubes and grips to go.

Fit the Job Profile: Not all tattoo needle groupings are made equally. Round liner needles can be excellent for dot work, while round shader needles tend to work better with basic shading and color filling. Furthermore, different needle groups lend themselves better to various types of artworks. Ensuring you use the right needles for the job can significantly impact the quality of your output. Check out this technical manual to better understand the various needle types and their best use cases.

Are Unbent and Sharp: If your ordered needles arrive at your location in a bent, crooked, or dull state, do not use them. Bent and blunt needles can cause considerable damage to the skin of your clients. Malformed needles are also terrible for your art as they won’t distribute the ink evenly and cause irregular lines and shading.

Are Properly Soldered to the Center Rod: when buying needle groupings, ensure that the needles are firmly attached to the center bar and do not hang loose. Loose hanging needles can cause skin injury and distort your tattoo pieces.

Are Pre-sterilized: today, most tattoo needles ship pre-sterilized. However, you want to double-check the product information to be sure. Otherwise, you would have to spend a considerable amount of time autoclaving your new needles to sterilize them before use. Most manufacturers typically label the product packaging with information on the sterilization status and the expiry date. You can also request a copy of the sterilization certification of the product from the supplier.

Other 5 Best Tattoo Needles We Also Recommend

Like with other types of tattoo equipment, there is no shortage of options when it comes to tattoo needles. Scour the market, and you will find an extreme abundance of quality options that can quickly overwhelm even seasoned tattooists.

We set out to solve this problem by analyzing the hundreds of options on the market to find the perfect needle set for all your tattooing needs. Our top pick, the Pirate Face Tattoo Assorted Needles Pack, fits this profile to a T.

However, we found a host of other high-end products that qualify as top-tier needles for all tattooists. Here are these other top-quality entries:

1. Yuelong Tattoo Needles

Yuelong Tattoo Needles
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Yuelong Tattoo provides another bumper pack of needles similar to what you get with the offering from Pirate Face Tattoo.

However, with Yuelong Tattoo’s package, you also get a pair of larger configurations, 9-needle-point round shaders, and round liners, which gives you the ability to deliver even more ink in one go.

Tattooists who often work on larger pieces of art will appreciate the addition of larger needle setups that can help significantly cut down the number of strokes you need to create specific designs and reduce the total amount of time spent tattooing.

Aside from the larger pieces, you also get a standard selection of regular-sized liners and shaders as well as massive 7M1 and 9M1 magnum pieces.

The sizes included in the Yuelong Tattoo needles pack include 3RL,5RL,7RL,9RL, 3RS, 5RS, 7RS, 9RS,7M1,9M1, with ten pieces for each configuration.

In this package, all needles are high-quality pieces fashioned from non-corrosive 316 stainless steel that brings the promise of durability and maximum effectiveness. The needles are also pre-sterilized with EO gas and come packed in individual sterilized blister packs to ensure they reach you in a clean state.

The standard sizing and clean soldering of the pieces in this pack ensure their compatibility with all regular rotary machines and guarantees optimal control and results, whether coloring, shading or lining.

Highlights

  • 100 professional-grade single-use needles
  • With larger configuration shaders and liners for increased effectiveness
  • Mixed package with ten different needle configurations: 3RL,5RL,7RL,9RL, 3RS, 5RS, 7RS, 9RS,7M1,9M1
  • Durable and non-corrosive 316 stainless steel construction
  • Individually packed with sterilized blister packs
  • pre-sterilized with EO gas
  • 100% guarantee with a return policy

2. CINRA Tattoo 50-Piece Needles Set

CINRA Tattoo 50-Piece Needles Set
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If the 100-unit packs are excessive for your need, you want to opt for a smaller package like this 50-unit set from CINRA. Here, you get five needles apiece of 10 sizes: 3RL, 5RL, 7RL, 9RL, 3RS, 5RS, 7RS, 9RS, 7M1, and 9M1.

Despite containing only 50 pieces, this package is well-rounded enough to equip most small-scale tattooists’ gear adequately. Hence, whether you are a newbie or an established artist, this package will be enough to cover all your favorite designs.

Plus, like most of the offerings from other top brands, the needles in CINRA’s 50-set works with most standard tattoo tubes and machines so that you won’t have any issues incorporating these needles into your existing work routine.

Safety is the top concern at CINRA. Hence, all their needles feature a medical-grade 316L steel alloy construction that is corrosion and rust-resistant, so you never have to worry about after-tattoo infections. The needles also come packed in individual sterile blister packages to ensure they maintain their pre-sterilized state and to keep them from grinding against each other.

Highlights

  • 50-pack of professional-grade single-use needles
  • Mixed package with ten different needle configurations: 3RL, 5RL, 7RL, 9RL, 3RS, 5RS, 7RS, 9RS, 7M1, 9M1
  • Surgical-grade stainless steel construction
  • Pre-sterilized with EO gas
  • Individually packed with sterilized blister packs

3. Dragonhawk Tattoo Needles Liners and Shaders Pack

Dragonhawk Tattoo Needles Liners and Shaders Pack
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Sometimes you have to go the other direction and get as many needles as you can. This is especially true when you are a beginner who is still in the beginning stages of experimenting with tattooing. For those moments, this bumper 200-piece package from Dragonhawk Tattoo Needles is here to the rescue.

Plus, oversized packages are not exclusively for newbies. Seasoned artists can also take advantage of the bargain you get with this offering that gives you a generous supply of frequently used needles for a fraction of regular pricing.

With the Dragonhawk Tattoo Needles Liners and Shaders Pack, you get an assorted mix of 40 pieces of 3RL needles, 40 5RL, 20 7RL, 20 9RL, 40 5M1, 20 7M1, and 20 9M1. While this package is missing round shaders, the generous supply of magnum shaders more than makes up for it, as it provides a useful shading tool in multiple sizes.

Plus, considering the bargain price-to-value ratio of this package, we are (and we are sure most tattooists will be) willing to forgive the exclusion of round shaders.

However, one major downside to this offering is that the needles are not packed individually.

The needles in this package are housed in four large boxes that contain 50 units each. With this setup, you have to temporarily unseal the rest of the needles in the box every time you reach for one. Hence, after some time, you may need to autoclave the remaining needles before use.

However, the good news is that this set’s needles typically ship with at least a four year expiry period.

Highlights

  • Bumper 200-pack of professional-grade common-used needles
  • Mixed package with 7 different needle configurations: 40 3RL, 40 5RL, 20 7RL, 20 9RL, 40 5M1, 20 7M1, and 20 9M1
  • Surgical-grade stainless steel construction
  • Bargain pricing

4. Bigswap Tattoo 7RL Needles

Bigswap Tattoo 7RL Needles
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For amateur tattooists, one of the most critical sets of needles is the round liners. Most simple tattoos can be completed exclusively with liners, and with more complex tattoos, a significant portion of the job falls on the liners.

Hence, you must get the best possible liners to ensure you have the right tools for the job, every time.

Bigswap’s pack of 7RL round liners is the answer to all of your lining needs. This offering contains a selection of 20 medium-sized round liners designed to act as the base of all your tattooing jobs.

With 7RL, you get just the perfect size to draw bold, visible lines and outline all of your artwork before shading.

Plus, Bigswap’s 7RLs feature a Ready-To-Use setup that is entirely tool-free and doesn’t require any assembly before use. The cartridges are also compatible with all standard coiled and rotary machines, even with hawk machines.

The tool-free setup of these needles will help streamline your workflow, as you can easily swap your needles while tattooing.

The needle’s construction is a sturdy 316L surgical-grade stainless steel alloy core, paired with a medical-grade plastic shell. This setup ensures that you never have to worry about durability, corrosion, or rust. The cartridges’ plastic housing also doubles as a membrane that keeps ink from flowing back up the tubes.

All 20 needles in this set are EO-gas-sterilized and come individually packed in sterilized blister packets to ensure the needles get to you contamination-free.

Highlights

  • 20 professional-grade single-use 7RL needles
  • Ready-To-Use, tool-free setup
  • Individually packed with sterilized blister packs
  • 316L surgical-grade stainless steel alloy core
  • pre-sterilized with EO gas
  • Free refunds and no-questions-asked money-back guarantee

5. ACE Needles RL 50-Pack

ACE Needles RL 50-Pack
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When the 7RL needles by Bigswap no longer cut it, ACE needles 50-pack provides a more varied range of round liners to accommodate your more expansive tattoo jobs.

This selection contains ten units each of 1RL and 11RL needles, so you have enough needle points to cover the tiniest and largest lines, and five units each of 3RL,5RL,7RL, and 9RL needles to cover everything in between.

Each needle in the selection uses a standard length loop bar that makes it compatible with most regular tattoo machines and tubes, so you should have any issues incorporating these units into your existing gear.

Furthermore, these needles are high-quality options that you can trust. The entire set features surgical-grade stainless steel construction for corrosion resistance and maximum durability.

Plus, ACE takes extra measures to guarantee the safety of your client. All ACE needles are EO gas sterilized and come packed in individual blister packages that help maintain their sterilization until you are ready to use them. The packs also carry expiry dates on them for each needle.

Highlights

  • 50-pack of professional-grade single-use round liner needles
  • Mixed package with six different needle configurations: 1RL, 3RL, 5RL, 7RL, 9RL, 11 RL
  • Surgical-grade stainless steel construction
  • Pre-sterilized with EO gas
  • Individually packed with sterilized blister packs
  • Individual expiry dates for each needle

What Else To Know: Understanding Tattoo Needle Groupings

Tattoo Needle Groupings
Image Source: Saved Tattoo

Most Tattoo needle packs contain a mixture of needle types to provide you with all the specific pieces you need for various work styles. Depending on your needs, you want to select a pack that contains a generous supply of the needle type you need the most.

In many needle packs, each needle type is denoted by a standard two-letter abbreviation such as “RL” for round liner and “RS” for round shaders.

Most experienced tattooists will draw from a combination of these configurations when working to enable them effectively mirror their idea and achieve their desired results. Consequently, most needle kits feature a selection of the most popular needlepoint setups. For most jobs, such well-rounded kits will be an excellent choice for most artists.

However, depending on the type of work you do, you may want to lean towards a pack that is heavy in one direction. For example, with lining-focused work, you want an offering that packs more liners, or even only liners.

Here a list of the most common needle types you will find in most retail packs.

Info

In addition to the standard needle configurations, you can also find products that bear extra qualifiers like “super tight” and “extra super tight.” These denotations help identify modified configurations that often offer tattooists a more precise experience than most regular offerings.

Magnum Shader Needles (denoted as M1 or MS)

Magnum shaders are a relatively rare type of needle that you won’t find in most regular tattoo cartridge packs but are a favored piece by many expert tattooists. You will mostly find this needle type in all-inclusive collections like the 100-needle offerings from Pirate Face Tattoo and Yuelong.

Magnum shader needles typically feature needles in straight line configurations (the most common setup is arranging the needles in two consecutive rows.)

Due to the sweeping effect you get with two rows of multiple needle points (magnum shaders typically feature five or more needle points,) the magnum shader configuration is one of the best options for filling large areas with color.

Round Shader Needles (RS)

Round shader needles are the most popular configuration for shading work. While this setup does not offer as much reach as the magnum shaders, it more than makes up for it with added precision.

RS needles feature needle points, typically 3, 5, 7, or 9 points, arranged in a circular form that allows you to drop a significant amount of ink in one go, but not as much as with a magnum.

Round shader needles provide a considerable amount of accuracy and are often the preferred choice for shading and blending in tight corners or straight lines. RS needles may also work well for some detail-oriented tattoo work like lettering and highlighting.

Round Liner Needles (RL)

Round liners bear a similar circular configuration to round shaders. Still, here, the needle points are packed more tightly together and are typically smaller than what you get in an RS setup. This setup is the best for detailed work as they make the most precise incisions that, if handled right, produce the most intricate tattoos.

Round liners are excellent for making fine lines, outlining and lining designs, and adding tiny details.

Flat Needles (denoted as FL for Flat Liner)

Flat needles are a smaller, even rarer version of the magnum shader. Needles in this configuration often feature a single straight line of needle points.

Flat needles are an excellent choice for making deeper, dark lines as, with their row of needle points following each other, they deliver significantly more ink in a single stroke than round liners.

Some larger flat needles (sometimes called flat shader needles) can also serve a similar purpose to magnum shaders, providing a great way to complete quick color fills.

More to know: 5 Best Tattoo Pen Machine 2021

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