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How Deep a Tattoo Needle Goes

Deep of Tattoo Needle

How Deep a Tattoo Needle Goes

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This is the most popularly asked question. More often than not, people who desire to get a tattoo are curious to know – How deep a tattoo needle goes.

Well, the answer is – about 1/16th Inch deeper.

Our skin has a total of 3 layers, viz., Epidermis (which is composed of 5 sub layers), Dermis and Subcutaneous Tissue. The tattoo needle that is used to insert dye into your skin should penetrate into the Dermis layer. However, if the depth is too shallow, then it will only penetrate into the sub layers of epidermis and the ink will “bleed out” as the tattoo starts healing. This is simply due to the 5 sublayers of the Epidermis, which are constantly growing outward to the top.

tattoo depth skin figure

The depth of penetrating a needle is one of the most important skills that each tattoo artist has to perfect. Depth of penetrating a needle not only affects the quality of the tattoo, but also it affects the pain experienced by the client. Tattoo artists adjust the length of the needle in such a way that it only penetrates 1/16th of an inch into the skin. Also, an experienced tattoo artist will always make sure that the ink is penetrated deep enough into the skin to be permanent, but not so deep that the flesh in the particular area get damaged and scar tissue starts to form.

How Does a Tattoo Machine/Gun Work?

Tattoos have been a tradition for centuries, across the globe. There are many different forms of tattoos styles and methods. Traditionally, Samoan and Thai techniques were used to etch a tattoo onto the skin. These techniques were not so effective. In the traditional techniques, a single needle shaped thing made with a thin stick of bamboo was used to inject the ink into the skin. The process was very slow as the tattooist could only make one strike at a time, which made the whole process ineffective.

Samoan Traditional tattoo machine

Modern tattooing techniques on the other hand are very effective. Today tattoo machines or guns are very effective, they come with rapidly moving needles. In modern machines it is easy to adjust the depth of the needle, which was not possible with the traditional tattooing techniques. More often than not, older techniques used to result in scarring because of the less consistent depth of the needle.

Modern Tattoo machine gun

Modern tattoo machines pulsate a needle into the skin at around 6,000 motions a minute. And at the same time, this machine pools ink on the surface of the skin. Each time the piercing needle creates a hole, and when it comes out of the skin, it creates a vacuum. This vacuum then sucks the ink on the surface of the skin into the hole.

How Deep Is 1/16 Of An Inch?

Tattoo needle is like a micro hand-mixer penetrating deep into your skin. While getting a tattoo you will feel as if all of your skin layers are getting chopped and chummed by the penetrating force of the sharp needle.

Penetrating a needle too shallow into the skin will create a patchy tattoo which will fade away when your skin will start shedding its layers. While a very deep tattooing can damage nerve or flesh or can cause thick scarring which will eventually distort your tattoo. Also, if a tattooist penetrates too deep into your skin, it can cause excruciating pain and heavy bleeding. So, it is important that tattoos should go 1/16 of an inch onto the skin.


After the tattoo is etched, the ink is deposited on the sub layers of the epidermal layer, epidermal-dermal junction — the division between the dermis and epidermis and the dermic.

The epidermis is the top most layer of that skin that shed cells continually. The dermis is made of a more fibrous connective tissue and it lies beneath the epidermal layer. In between there is a membrane to separate the tissues. After tattooing, all of these layers get blended.

Summing it up…..

So now you know how deep a tattoo needle goes, and there is no danger to your skin. You can get your favorite tattoo etched on your skin. However, make sure you go to a renowned and experienced tattoo artist only! After all, it is about your safety and your tattoo that you would never want to regret!

Happy Tattooing….. ☺ ☺

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