Cosmetic tattoo needles, what do you look for? You want a needle that does the job of course - one that keeps your clients safe while also providing great results. We're going to dive into what to look for to make sure your needle is safe, sterilised and shaped up for the job!

So, what should you look for when it comes to safe needle design?

  • Packaging and sterilisation
  • Steel quality and appearance
  • Needle design (e.g. grip, flow, backflow control)

P.s. We recommend getting a needle out to follow along!

Needle Packaging & Sterilisation

First and foremost - you need a properly sterilised needle! Your tattoo or pmu needle should have a few different things to show it has been safely manufactured and is appropriate for use. This includes:

  • Needle configuration details
  • Manufacturer date
  • Lot number
  • Expiry date
  • Sterilisation method (e.g. STERILE EO, STERILE R)
  • Sterilisation indicator (colour confirmation)

Here are two examples, one is missing 5/6 confirmation indicators, and the other is a good example of a safe and sterile needle.

Just because a needle is sealed in a blister pack, or simply says "sterile" does not mean is a sterile needle. Additionally, technicians should check:

  • There is no debris in the needle packaging
  • The needle is not warped, bent, or dull

Needle Design

For needle safety one of the most important parts is the membrane! The membrane prevents the backflow of pigment and body fluids from the needle tube back into the handpiece or machine body. A needle's membrane is essential for infection control and avoiding internal damage.

Let's take a look at needles

The image below shows a handpiece that was received by THink due to it 'not running anymore'. Upon internal inspection of the machine, the service technician was faced with a mixture of pigment and bodily fluids that had caked the internals of the tattoo handpiece.

Image: cleaning out the inside of a tattoo machine that used needle cartridges without a membrane.

Feeling queasy? So are we!

Needle cartridges that do not restrict backflow of fluid put clients at risk of infection, particularly:

  • Bacterial infection (e.g. ‘staph’ or staphylococcus bacteria)
  • Viral bloodborne infections (e.g. HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C)

The diagram below shows the internal difference between a non-membrane needle design and a needle with a membrane, with respect to the effect on the flow of ink through the cartridge.

Low quality (=cheap) needle cartridges usually do not include these membranes. The unfortunate part is that they look the same from the outside.

How to check (carefully) if a needle has a membrane:

  1. Take a sterile cartridge from the blister pack and blow into the needle bar end (the side you insert into the machine).
  2. Put your finger over the needle tip end. Can you feel your breath? If so, there’s no membrane.
  3. Discard the cartridge in the sharps bin or use it on practice mats.

Lastly, here is our pick for a well designed, double membrane safety needle that is compatible with universal machines - this is the Da Vinci PMU Needle by Bishop.



At THink MBC Supplies we value client safety, that's why you'll only find us stocking quality needles and products that are designed to produce quality results that don't compromise on client safety.

Have any questions about needles or other products? Get in touch!

For further information please contact our friendly staff at THink Aesthetics on 3300 0465 or messge us at

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What is a 'tech talk'?

THink Tech Talks is our informative blog series that discusses technical industry news, training advise and more! Written in partnership with THink Aesthetics, an industry-leading training school that specialises in all things cosmetic tattooing.