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Five Curved Magnum vs Five Stacked Magnum

curved magnum needles Feb 27, 2021

 Just by the name "5 Magnum" these two needle cartridges seem like they would be similar, however, the words curved and stacked are what make these needles quite unique. 

Imagine the pattern difference between these to 5 magnums.  The curved magnum will leave a loose ink pattern in the skin verses the 5 stacked magnum, which will leave a denser ink pattern. 

The  hand movements with these needles in my experience are different. With a curved magnum I can move with loose ovals, forward brushing, back brushing and  pendulum movements..  Where as the stacked mag, will require more forward type movements and less side to side movements or the sharp corners can tear or create nicks in the skin. 

I personally prefer the looser curved magnum because of the freedom of movements I can do,  but I know artists do nice work with the stacked magnum.  

Each needle requires unique hand movements.

Any questions?  Feel free to just email...

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Curved Magnums-YES!


Why am I a  fan of curved magnums? The curved magnum changed my artistry.  Back when I started in the PMU world, I was using a machine that only proprietary cartridge needles would fit into. What that meant was that I was limited to certain needle groupings. Learning permanent makeup was hard enough, but these needles just didn't make sense to me....they were suppose to be my paint brushes so to speak and they didn't speak to me.

I ventured out and bought a tattoo machine that accepted several  cartridge needle configurations in all shapes and sizes.  I remember trying a 23 curved magnum on a practice pad. I thought how much quicker my procedures would be and the ease of creating a smooth  pattern seemed effortless.  As I continued to try different configurations such a larger round shaders 9,11 etc. I was continually impressed with the magnums.  A 13 curved magnum for cosmetic procedures and larger such as a 17 curved magnum for areola tattooing...

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What's the difference between a liner and magnum tattoo needle?


Aside from the actual configuration difference and how the needles line up, a round liner and a magnum also give different effects when tattooing. The above photo are seperate examples of a round liner and a magnum used for eyebrows and also used on a practice pad. I've used the same pendulum motion technique and the same machine speed on the practice pad to demonstrate the different effects of these needle configurations.

Liner needles are typically grouped in a circle and the needles are soldered tight together.  When used for a pixel technique they can give a textured effect especially a 3 round liner for example.  A single needle can give texture as well, however depending on the technique used, you can also get an airbrushed effect similar to a magnum from a single needle, it just takes time to build up the color. Liners give you the opportunity to leave untouched skin space where there's no to minimal color deposited in the skin and also are great when you...

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Needle Clarity


Several needle manufacturers include bugpin size needles and nano sizes in cartridge needles and manual needles. When deciphering tattoo needle sizes, bugpins, nanos, and taper, all come into play in different ways.

Bugpins are usually .30 or smaller, however when the sizes get really small they are referred to as "nano" size needles.  There are no rules so to speak on what exact size needle is a bugpin or a nano, as that is up to the manufacturer to label the needles.  It would be safe to say that a .12, .15, and a .18 are considered nanos.

A tip to remember:

The taper determines the end size of the needle as it touches the skin.

We don’t always have exact taper information but you can identify it if it’s listed on the packaging code or use an eye loupe to help.

Hope that helps with needle clarity and some of the terms we hear today as PMU artists.

- To your PMU success,

PMU Artist & Needle Specialist
Inside Needle Knowledge

Purchase the I.N.K. Course...

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Tattoo Needle Depth

How deep should we be in the skin?  It does depend on the area your tattooing.  As an example the eyebrows verses the eyelids are different.  Even the eyelids at the tarsal plate are different than the eyelid skin above it.

As a former skin care professional, I can just about look at the skin and know if it's thick or thin, however you can also give it a pinch and feel the skin and note the difference.  Tattooing in thin skin will be more shallow than tattooing in thicker skin.  The best advice I can give is to feel your needles in the skin with your stretching fingers.  It's something you start to intuitively do and you know where you are in the skin by feeling the vibration form the needles.  

It's more difficult to feel smaller needle groupings and also smaller diameter needles such as nano needles.  The vibration is minimal and the nano needles  and smaller groups penetrate the skin quickly so it's important to F E E L where your...

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How speed can affect your tattooed lines

Uncategorized May 16, 2020

When we tattoo hair strokes or are doing lining, sometimes our results aren't as expected, but why? One reason is our speed.

Inconsistent Speed- Basically what's happening is that  the hand is moving slow and fast resulting in an inconsistent line with some areas receiving more or less pigment than others. The line will look "skippy". Usually slowing down hand speed will help achieve a solid line.

Inconsistent Depth- Factors such as needle throw, machine stroke, skin type and pressure all come into play.  Feeling the needle vibration in  the skin with the stretching hand helps control the needle depth. Inconsistent depth and pressure results in lines that may appear thicker and blurred when the needle is too deep or the opposite is not enough pressure which results in  a thinner line that is too surface and won't last after healing. 

Consistent Speed and Depth- The harmony of hand and machine speed and proper depth result in consistent...

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Textured Tattoo Needles

Uncategorized Mar 28, 2020

Textured needles are nothing new to the tattoo and PMU industries! PMU artists are now being marketed to in several ways, and the textured tattoo needle options are resurfacing from several years ago.  It's an artist choice, some swear by them others say they cause too much skin trauma.

    To your PMU success,

PMU Artist & Needle Specialist
Inside Needle Knowledge

Purchase the I.N.K. Course Now

IG jillhoyer

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Tattoo needle configurations guide

The below guide is one of the several downloads from the course and is a suggestion on tattoo needle types and the usages.

  To your PMU success,

PMU Artist & Needle Specialist
Inside Needle Knowledge

Purchase the I.N.K. Course Now

IG jillhoyer



 Have you heard of the saying, "it doesn't matter what needle you choose, just as long as you know how to use it." If you're a new PMU artist or  a seasoned artist who is just venturing out of using a couple of different needle configurations, this is a frustrating statement.  How do you know how to use needles when you never were taught needle theory in basic fundamental training?  Today, there is a big need for needle theory. How to use needles makes much more sense when we understand the basics of what we are using and why we are using it. Needles our important as they dictate the footprint left behind in the skin.

In the online course,...

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The Single Needle Pixel Effect


Can you believe all the single needle sizes available in today's PMU market?  

The single needle used during the "fine line" era of traditional tattooing for entire tattoos, has been primarily used in PMU for pointillism,  hair strokes and a shaded effect known as "the pixel technique." Although most needles could be used to do the pixel technique, this video and article is mainly about the single needle sizes used to pixel and when you may choose one size over the other. 

Using a single needle or group of needles, the pixel technique is a combination of machine speed and hand speed that creates a dot like pattern in the skin. The slower the hand speed the closer the dots and the faster the hand speed the further the dots are apart. With the pixel technique, there is skin space between pixels and this lends to a soft look similar to powder.

With so many different sizes and tapers of single needles available, which sizes are optimal for pixelating?  ...

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Liner-Shader Guide


As PMU artists we have a lot of needle choices.  I use to think I could only use liners for lining and shaders for shading.  I realized I can use any needle, just as long as I know how to use it.  Of course, some needles are better "tools" for the procedure at hand, but I've learned not to limit myself in my needle choices just because they are called a liner or shader.

Knowing how to use a variety of needles with several techniques saves time during procedures as you don't always need to switch needles or have two machine setups. More importantly, is the artistry that develops in understanding our needle patterns or "footprint"  from both liners and shaders and using them interchangeably.  

Since liner needles (more than a single needle) are typically closer together than shader needles, the pattern/imprint of color is denser. You may come across situations where you want to shade with liners or use a shader needle, with it's broader pattern...

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Liner Shader Guide

This chart helps you pay attention to your hand speed, machine speed, and hand movements when using liners for a liner effect and shaders for a shaded effect.

It also shows how you can use:

  • Liners for a shaded effect 
  • Shaders for a liner effect

A great go-to chart is just the beginning!