The Complete Guide to Buying Tattoo Needles on eBay

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The Complete Guide to Buying Tattoo Needles on eBay

Tattoos have been a popular art form for many centuries and have become an increasingly popular feature in Western society.

Today, many people choose to express themselves by having a tattoo designed and applied to their skin in a chosen area. They are a permanent modification that stays with a person for life and it is therefore essential that the process and equipment is perfect.

Tattoo needles are an essential part of the tattoo process and come in a wide range of sizes. Having the correct amount and the necessary styles is paramount in order to create a perfect tattoo.

There is a wide range of tattoo equipment available on eBay – including items such as tattoo needles, tattoo ink, tattoo accessory kits and many more.

This guide documents the main factors to consider when purchasing tattoo needles.

What Is a Tattoo?

A tattoo is the process of having ink inserted into the skin in order to permanently alter the pigment. These are commonly in the form of an image or text that the person has chosen or designed – often with significant personal meaning to that individual.

The art of tattooing has been practiced for many centuries and variations of the process are prevalent in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and parts of Europe, amongst many others. It is believed the tattoo was introduced to the Western world as early as the 16th century - when sailors arrived home from foreign lands with body art.

These days, tattoos are usually applied using specially designed machines and by a fully trained, professional tattoo artist, and there are many styles that one can choose from. It is not uncommon for a person to design their own tattoo by hand, for artists to work from.

Types of Tattoo Machine

Tattoo machines usually come in two forms – a ‘liner’ and a ‘shader’. These have different purposes in the process of applying a tattoo and have subtle differences in their design.

A liner is used for the more intricate sections of a tattoo – such as the outlining. Liners are often designed in an upright position and are used to hold specific liner needles. These typically possess a low number of needle ‘sharps’ at the end of the bar and are spaced close together in order to maintain tight, intricate detail. As the machine moves the small needles up and down, the skin is pierced and ink is inserted.

Liner needle sizes can range from one needle sharp up to ten needles sharps.

In contrast, a shader is used to ink large areas of a tattoo, such as coloured patches or areas that require shading, and is designed to be held at more of an angle compared to liners. Shaders are commonly formed of two, flat rows of needle sharps.

Different Types of Tattoo Needle

A tattoo needle consists of multiple small needle ‘sharps’ attached to a needle bar, which is in turn attached to the machine using a tube. These needles are often different shapes depending on the requirement and design of the tattoo.

For example, ‘round’ needles are often used on liner machines whereas ‘magnum’ or ‘flat’ needles are commonly used with shaders.

Needle Sharp Configuration

It is important to remember the way in which the needle sharps are arranged when buying tattoo needles. The type of grouping is largely dependent on whether it will be used for lining or shading – and the size of the area should also be considered.

The needle packaging will often provide a code similar to ‘7RS’ – in which the number is the amount of needle sharps and the RS stands for ‘round shader’.

Needle Sharp Configuration Codes



Round Liner


Round Shader




Weaved Magnum


Stacked Magnum


Round Magnum


The diameter of a tattoo needle is displayed on the item’s packaging and comes available in a range of up to twelve sizes. The largest diameter is ‘size 12’, which is 0.35mm in diameter – this is also the most common for shading. The most common diameter used when lining is ‘size 10’, which is 0.3mm. Always check the product description for the diameter when purchasing a tattoo needle.

Length of Needle Point

Often called a ‘sharp’ or a ‘taper’, the length of a needlepoint can be short or long. Short points are typically 1.5mm, whereas long variations are 2mm – although many can vary and can even be much larger. Again, always check the product description to determine the appropriate size.

Number of Needle Sharps

Needle sharps are attached to the needle bar and different amounts are required for different areas of a tattoo. The amount will typically be displayed on the product packaging. For example, a ‘7RL’ includes 7 needle sharps attached to the bar of a round liner.

What to Consider When Buying Tattoo Needles

There are many different types of tattoo needles and each has their own specific uses and specifications. It is therefore important to take the following requirements into consideration when looking to make a purchase.

  • Tattoo Machine: different needles are used with different machines and it is important to purchase the correct one. For example, if looking to buy needles for a liner machine, it is essential to ensure they are compatible.
  • Needle Configuration Code: the codes that inform the buyer of the needle sharp configurations are an important part of the purchasing process, as these define the layout and style of the needle head. Before buying, refer to this guide to ensure the purchase of the correct needle.
  • Diameter and Length: variations in diameter and length are common and each has different uses. Be sure to check the product description in order to purchase the correct size. If purchasing with eBay, always ask the seller if size is unclear.
  • Amount: always be sure to purchase the correct amount. Not purchasing the necessary amount could cause problems in the tattoo process.
  • Price: be sure to shop around to find the best possible price when looking to purchase tattoo needles. If purchasing with eBay, it’s wise to compare products from different sellers and take into account how much time is left on an auction – a great deal could be just a moment away.


Tattoos are an increasingly popular feature amongst people in modern society, with many also choosing to pursue a career as a tattoo artist. With this, comes a demand for top-of-the-range equipment that is easily accessible in order to produce the best results.

The range of needles available is sure to ensure tattoo artists that they are able to produce high quality, detailed designs that can be as intricate or as simple as the customer wishes.

These tattoos often require different equipment and this is an important factor to consider when making a purchase. Are shader needles required? Is liner equipment also a necessity? Does the product have enough to last for the desired amount of time?

eBay will generally provide tattoo equipmentat an affordable rate and if deciding to go down this route, then take the recommended precautions and use PayPal to ensure a safe transaction.

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