How to Set Up the CORRECT Needle Depth for Tattoos? - CNC Tattoo Machine Supply
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How to Set Up the CORRECT Needle Depth for Tattoos?

Tattooing is both an exciting and super rigorous process, Exciting in that it presents permanent tattoo art on your body, rigorous in that it is a long and painful process that requires repeated needling with a tattoo machine.

Either way, as you read this blog, it means that you are serious and dedicated to your tattoo, hooray for you!

Before the art of tattooing can begin, we need to know something about tattooing. Today we start with needle depth – The CORRECT needle depth is essential for a successful tattoo, and neither too shallow nor too deep is the right depth for a tattoo.

Grasp Our Skin

Basically, the skin is made up of three main layers:  the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis.

The epidermis that’s the layer that provides the waterproof barrier to our skin, it’s also the layer that’s responsible for shedding skin cells and renewing itself. We’ve got the dermis which is the most stable layer of skin, cells also located here, which is the hair follicles and sweat glands, and then below that we’ve got the hypodermis and this is essentially a layer of fat, it’s not even really a layer of skin, it’s a layer of fat cells, so here is the correct location where our tattoo needle should be inserted. As the picture shows:

correct tattoo depth for tattoo process

if you see some tattoos on the internet and they look quite dodgy, the most likely cause of this is because the tattoo they’ve not gone deep enough.

They’ve just gone into this top layer of skin – the epidermis, so we move on and go a little bit deeper into the dermis, this is where the ink loves to stay, so when you tattoo into the dermis, the ink stays nice and crispy. and when they’re fully healed they still look nice, fresh, solid. When the needle goes below the dermis into the hypodermis, this is the layer that’s responsible for blowouts.

How to Place Ink into the Dermis?

Now it comes down to how do you get your ink into the dermis, there are four factors that will determine whether you make it there or not.

Influencing Factors

Factor No.1: Distance from the needle to the tube when the machine is running

How many needles should be coming out of your tube, this is specific to each person, so you need to kind of figure yours out first.

As you tattoo, you might realize you need a little bit more so you might turn this a little bit more and throw your needles out, a little bit further it just depends on what the skin is telling you, so that’s how far your needle is coming out of the tube when you’re starting and again, you’re gonna adjust it as you go for each individual person.

Factor No.2: The voltage

 You have to figure out is the voltage at which you want to run that machine well, which can be kind of tricky. Here mainly refers to rotary tattoo machines.  Such as our Q series tattoo pen, P6, and others. It takes practice to figure these things out. According to our research on professional tattoo artists, we believe the following can be an effective reference for you.

Tattooists start working on that to tattoo depending on the client’s skin and other various factors. Usually, they start off a little bit lower maybe even at seven point five volts, just depends on what you’re doing, and as you pull a few lines and start moving around, you will make adjustments maybe a little bit more voltage, or maybe you feel like the voltage is good but the needle needs to just come out a little bit further to hit that dermis get right in.

Factor No.3: Hand speed

These two factors play heavily into the third factor which is Hand Speed-how fast is your hand moving. If you have too many needles being thrown out and you’re moving your hand way too slow, your voltage is set really high, you’re gonna eat in up. so it’s critical that you get these three right factors.

Factor No.4: Stretching Skin

Getting a good stretch is essential to hit the right depth.

If you think of it like a balloon,  if a balloon is filled up to its capacity and you push that needle to the balloon,  it’s going to pop. If that same balloon was filled up and didn’t have nearly as much air in it, it might take a little bit of a quick force,  a quick punch with the needle to make it pop. That’s essentially the same way the skin works, so the tighter you make that skin the easier, the needles are going to penetrate.      


The four factors described above are gonna ensure that you can get your needles and your inks successfully to the dermis every time. The best way of hitting the right needle depth is just basically its PRACTICE. As time goes on, you are gonna find things that work best for you.

Once you’ve got used to hitting, that right death your hand kind of get muscle memory and it just knows how far to put that needle in, and you’ll be hitting that right needle depth for every single time.

So you’re looking for the line to be crispy, feeling this vibration in your stretching hand and obviously controlling the depth with the actual tattoo in hand. Now the really important point to make is a solid line, which isn’t just about needle depth and stretch, there are other elements involved to it and all these elements need to come together as one to pull a nice solid line.


When you learn to combine those four factors together, you’re gonna have no problem with your needle depth. If you’ve got a good stretch, and you pull in lines and the line is nice and solid and crispy, and you’re going into the skin roughly two millimeters, the chances are you are hitting the right depth.

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