How to choose the right needle?

To choose the right needle for a procedure, the artist must understand the key properties of needles.

Needles are defined by their diameter, the sharpness and texture of their points, the number in a grouping, and how they are grouped.

Each of these characteristics affects the imprint left on the skin and, in turn, the artistry of the work. Artists may be surprised at how much their final results depend on the correct choice of needles.

Understanding Permabeu size label.

For example, size label 30/01 RL LT -T

30 is the diameter of a single needle in a grouping measured in millimeters, also referred to as the GAUGE or SIZE. 30 = 0.30 mm

01 indicates the number of needles in a grouping, or NEEDLE COUNT. 01 = 1 needle

RL, “round liner,” refers to the shape formed by the grouping of the needles, or TYPE. RL – Round Liner

LT, “length of taper,” describes the sharpness of a single needle, also referred to as the TAPER. LT - Long Taper

T indicates whether the point has a textured or smooth surface, also referred to as the TEXTURE. T – Textured



The gauge is the diameter of the thickest part of the needle measured in millimeters.

A larger GAUGE indicates a larger-diameter needle that will create a larger hole in the skin and allow more pigment to flow into and remain in the skin. In addition, larger-diameter needles offer more stability and control than smaller-diameter needles. Generally speaking, higher-GAUGE needles tend to have better results on thick and oily skin. On the down side, larger-diameter needles may create more trauma than smaller-diameter needles.

Mature, thin, dry, delicate skin takes up pigment quickly and is also easily bruised and traumatized. Such skin types require small-GAUGE needles and gentle work approach on the part of the artists. Small-GAUGE needles are likewise more flexible and giving, making them excellent for fine detail work.



The sharpness of the point plays a role in determining the size of the imprint left on the skin and how easily a needle penetrates the skin. In general, a shorter taper leaves a larger hole that, again, allows more pigment to flow into the skin compared with medium and longer tapers. Sharper needles also pierce the skin more easily than less sharp needles and are good choice for though skin.



Needles can be textured (having a rough surface) or polished (having a smooth surface).

Textured needles can deposit more pigment than non-textured needles, but they tend to cause more trauma to the skin. Generally, textured needles are a good choice for work when depositing the maximum amount of pigment with few passes is most important, such as an eyeshadow.


Needle count

The needle is like a paintbrush: the larger the area to paint, the larger the paintbrush the artist needs. A large brush delivers more pigment and finishes the job faster, but isn’t as precise as a small brush.

So, large needle configurations, like large paintbrushes, deliver lots of pigment but may be difficult to control. For precision when doing fine detail work, using fewer needles in a grouping is preferable.

Some artists are now choosing to work exclusively with single needles and smaller needle configurations to allow for slow pigment build-up and create fine detail.


A LOWER NEEDLE COUNT = more control and precision but less color deposited

A HIGHER NEEDLE COUNT = more color deposited but less control and precision



A single needle is considered a Round Liner (RL). When more than one needle is used, Round Liners have a tight circular grouping. They serve to create dense color and detailed work. Depending on the technique used, the pattern can be crisp and solid.

If you compare the imprint of the liner to a looser shader (RS), you will see denser pigment saturation, the shader having a softer, more dispersed color.

Round Shaders are meant for shading over a large area quickly to create a diffuse, airbrushed look. Larger needle configurations require more pressure and more three-way skin stretch than smaller needle counts. Using slower speeds with large needle counts can prevent overworking of the skin.

Curved Magnums (CMG) give a softer, more airbrushed look than Round Liners and Shaders. The round grouping provides a more pixelated look and texture. Magnums are great for full-coverage lipstick effects and to create a powdery shadow for the eyebrows.

Needles FAQ

B-Liner is engineered for precision and line work. The cartridge has a built-in stability mechanism that prevents the needle from vibrating. Having a stable needle is especially important when drawing hair strokes or doing any type of line work so that you achieve more defined and clear healed results. B-Liner also has an elongated tip with a slanted end that makes it easy to see where the needle is going.

Remember, it’s not necessary to start and finish your procedures with the same needle. You can use a couple of needle configurations and sizes during one procedure to create various looks by starting with one needle and switching to another count or type as needed.
Nowadays, though, single-needle techniques are very popular, and many artists use one needle for everything that they do. This approach can sometimes mean spending a lot of time on a procedure and overworking the skin.

Pro tip: We advise exploring various needle configurations to see whether they are useful in your practice and can save you time and create better-quality procedures. Begin learning on a practice pad. Use a 90-degree angle and pendulum movement, the same way you do for a single needle. Be sure to stretch the skin throughout, apply more hand pressure to push your needle (the more needles in a grouping, the more pressure is needed), and use a slower speed.

You can also try the pointillism movement, that is, the in-and-out motion. This technique works well for very sensitive skin and is thought to cause the least trauma to the skin.

Draw several shapes on the practice pad and fill them with various needle configurations to get a sense of their imprints and how they can be useful in your work.

Before you pick a needle, keep in mind the result that your client is looking for, the area of the procedure, the type of the procedure, the client’s skin type, and the pigment that you are using.

Be sure to:

  • Match the diameter of the needle to the client’s skin type.
  • Choose the number and shape of needles based on the outcome that your client is looking for.
  • A larger quantity of needles will quickly create a more saturated look, which may or may not be desirable. For example, choose a single needle for hair strokes, shading during layering, building gradient, transparent lip color and other transparent techniques, and highly detailed work.
  • If you need a saturated and defined line, such as for eyeliner, then use Round Liners. A liner is also good for shading thick, oily skin at low speeds for a textured and shaded look.
  • Use Round Shaders or Magnums for shading over large areas quickly, choosing your configuration based on the size and shape of the area.

Ultimately, the goal is to create quality work with the least amount of trauma so that as much pigment as possible remains after your work heals.

The skin can be damaged when the size, configuration, and points of the needles do not match the skin type.

For example, working with a very thin needle and small count on thick, oily skin can cause you to spend too much time going over the same area again and again in efforts to deliver enough pigment. This can overwork the skin causing little to pigment left after healing.

Other key aspects of needles to consider

Needle hang refers to the distance that the needle extends from the cartridge when the machine is operating. The needle hang affects the pigment flow: if the distance is too long, the needle won’t bring out any pigment as it retracts. The pigment should have an even, consistent flow. If you see either too much or not enough pigment flowing, it is necessary to adjust the needle hang.

The needle hang depends on both the length of the needle itself and the length of the stroke of the machine. To find the maximum needle hang for your machine after you insert the cartridge, twist the handpiece until the needle is even with the edge of the plastic tip inside the cartridge. When you turn on the machine, you can see the maximum needle hang.

If you extend the needle any longer, again, the pigment flow will be uneven. You can only shorten the needle hang at this point. The pigment should have an even, consistent flow. If you see either too much or not enough pigment flowing, it is necessary to adjust the needle hang or the speed.

Shorten the needle hang if there isn’t enough flow and lengthen it if too much pigment is flowing. Adjust the speed of the power supply or the thickness of the pigment. Sometimes, when the flow is insufficient, it is necessary to dilute the pigment with a solution to make it thinner.

Pro tip: We recommend that you check the pigment flow on a clean, damp cotton round before touching the skin. Adjust the needle so that the ink flows nicely when you barely touch the cotton round. There should be no spills.

If you have tried all of these adjustments and the pigment is still not flowing properly, try another cartridge. There is a small possibility that the box of needles has a manufacturing problem. If this is the case, contact the store since Permabeu will replace the defective needles.

Machine speed, which is indicated by the number on the power supply, and hand speed determine the density of the pigment on the skin.

  • The machine speed is measured as the number of times that the needle pattern touches the skin.
  • Hand speed determines the distance between the needle patterns or dots on the skin.
  • Generally, with a higher-speed needle, you deliver more pigment, resulting in a more solid look. If your aim is to create an airy look while using a fast machine speed, use high-speed hand movements.

To deliver more color, use slower hand movements and a fast speed on the machine. When creating a solid line with a liner, use a faster speed and slower hand movements. When creating a shaded look with a shader, use a slower machine speed with faster hand movements.

Don’t forget that you can also use a liner as a shader. This technique works great for eyebrows, especially when clients have thick, oily skin. Under such circumstances, use a slower machine speed and medium-speed hand movements.

It is important to follow the procedure of tattooing, wiping, checking, and repeating and to observe the imprint carefully. If you don’t see enough color on the skin, choose a larger needle diameter, apply slightly more pressure, or lower the speed. On the other hand, if you see large pixels on the skin or the skin is quickly becoming red, the needle size may be too large, the pressure too great, or the speed too fast. Under these circumstances, choose a finer needle so that you don’t overwork and traumatize the skin, and lowering the speed will give you a lighter touch.

Keep in mind not only the speed of the needle but also the amount of force behind the needle when it touches the skin. This combination of factors is called the hit. In other words, both the machine hit and the hand hit affect the force of needle penetration.

The machine hit depends on the size of the stroke. What does the size of the stroke mean? The size of a stroke is the distance that the needle has to travel each time before it reaches the skin. Simply put, the longer the stroke, the harder the hit.

Longer strokes have more power to penetrate thick skin. Shorter strokes have less force and, so, are more appropriate for thin, delicate skin. Specifically, 1 to 2 mm is considered a short stroke, 2.5-3 mm is considered hybrid, and a stroke of greater than 3 mm is considered long. Normally, we use strokes no longer than 4 mm on the face.

As an artist, you should have both a short- or hybrid-stroke machine and a long-stroke machine to cover a range of skin types and procedures. Long-stroke machines work great for thick, young, oily skin. Short-stroke machines are best for thin, delicate, fragile skin.

A soft hit means that the needle gives a little before penetrating the skin, as if there is a cushion between the needle and the pushing force.

What happens if you use a soft-hit, short-stroke machine on thick, oily skin? Most likely, the needle won’t be able to penetrate the skin and deliver the ink where it is supposed to. The result will be superficial trauma that, in turn, creates a big scab. In addition, most of the ink will be gone when the skin heals.

What happens if you use a very powerful strong-hit, long-stroke machine on thin skin? Again, the result will be unnecessary trauma, and every hit of the needle will heal as a small pixelated dot.

Skilled artists with extensive experience are able to adjust their hand-hit to correct for the force of the machine and match the skin type. For example, they absorb the extra force of a strong hit machine when working on delicate skin and allow the force to transfer for work on thick, oily skin.

Pro tip: We recommend working with a couple types of machines as well as several needle sizes and configurations to perform high-quality work in a timely manner.