Permanent Makeup (PMU) Needle Cartridges
The 12 best premium needle cartridges for permanent makeup artists. We supply your favorite brands, the latest releases and niche brands you might not have tried before. So go ahead and find the cartridge you love that suits your working style.
All PMU needles (except Biomaser) are universal fitment and fit all standard machines like the Dragonhawk range, Xion S, Flux S, Bellar, Cheyenne, AXYS and many more. All our needles feature full safety membranes. Artists must use only membrane-protected needles on live clients.
Our cartridges do not fit specific fitment machines from Nouveau Contour, Amiea or Precision Plus. If in doubt, please contact us.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Permanent makeup needles come in many different configurations. These terms describe the grouping or needle ‘cluster’, so you know what procedures they are suitable for.
What is a liner?
A liner is a needle where all pins meet into a single point. A 3 liner for example has 3 pins, or ‘points’, that meet to create a single sharp point. Liners are ideal for detail work like eyeliner, whip shading and fine brow strokes. Single point needles are also classed as liners.
What is a shader?
A shader is similar to a liner, except the points are not grouped together as closely. This makes them ideal for packing pigment into larger areas of skin as you would when lip blushing, or when doing camouflage work or saline removal.
What is a flat?
A flat is a group of needles in a horizontal line. Usually consisting of 3 to 5 points, flats are most commonly used in permanent makeup for ombre brows and sometimes for lips.
Flats are sometimes referred to as a ‘single stack magnum’.
A variation is the ‘curved flat’, where the needles at the edge of the grouping are shorter, creating a softer configuration for reduced skin trauma.
What is a slope?
Like a flat, a slope needle usually consists of 3 to 5 points and is a horizontal configuration. However unlike flats, slope needles are arranged in a literal slope to suit the individual style of some artists who prefer this setup.
What is a magnum?
A magnum is the same as a flat, except it features a double horizontal row of points. Generally from 5 to 11 points per needle, magnums cause less trauma to the skin and are useful for packing in a lot of pigment quickly. They are most commonly used for ombre brows.
Like flats, magnums are also available as a ‘curved magum’. The curved variety is actually more popular among permanent makeup artists than standard ‘straight’ magnums.
The numbers and letters tell you the most important information about the needle configuration. Let’s use 0803RL as an example.
First, split into 3 parts – 08 / 03 / RL
- 08 is the diameter (width or thickness) of each needle pin
- 03 is the number of needle pins in the grouping
- RL is the type of grouping
The diameter code (08 in this case) can be any of the following:
- 04 = 0.15mm
- 05 = 0.18mm
- 06 = 0.20mm
- 07 = 0.22mm
- 08 = 0.25mm
- 10 = 0.30mm
- 12 = 0.35mm
- 14 = 0.40mm
Sometimes there are brand-specific variations. For example, the Vertix Nano 1201RL is 0.33mm, not 0.35mm. But these exceptions are rare.
Generally speaking, the finer the needle, the more delicate the work. Larger diameter needles can pack in more pigment, however they also meet more resistance from the skin so it could be argued that larger diameters have a greater margin for error and are better for inexperienced artists.
However, needle taper and hand pressure also play a massive role. See below for more information.
Number of needle pins
The number of pins (03 in this example) is literally the number of separate needle pins in the grouping.
Most permanent makeup needles have more more than 5 needle pins, however there are exceptions. It is common for PMU artists to use shaders with 7 pins, or magums with up to 11 pins, depending on what procedure they are completing, the needs of their client, how they were trained and of course their own individual style.
Some needles have just one pin and are referred to as a 1 liner, a 1RL or a single needle.
Type of grouping
The last 2 letters (or occasionally 1-3 letters) tell us what the needle configuration is. Here are the most common types:
- RL = round liner (liner)
- RLT or RL-T = tight liner (extra tight grouping for fine detail work)
- RS = round shader (shader)
- F or FL = flat
- S or SL = slope
- M or MG = magnum (usually a straight magnum)
- RM = round magnum
- CM = curved magnum (same as round magnum)
See the FAQ above (What is a liner, shader, flat, slope and magnum?) for a fuller explanation of the different types of grouping.
Using the explanation above, an 0803RL is a 3 point liner needle, with each of the 3 pins being 0.25mm in diameter.
A 1205RL is a 5 point liner needle, with each of the pins being 0.35mm in diameter.
An 0807RM is a 7 point round magnum needle with each of the pins being 0.25mm in diameter.
And finally, an 0604F is a 4 point flat needle with each of the pins being 0.20mm in diameter.
It can be difficult to wrap your head around at first, particularly if you’re used to using traditional digital machines from Nouveau Contour etc. But once you get used to the terminology, its super easy to use the codes to understand what needle type is in the box and what it can be used for.
Any questions, we’re here to help so please do not hesitate to contact us.
These are just industry-standard terms to describe certain sizes. ‘Nano’ and ‘Pico’ is simply a way of describing a small diameter needle, but sometimes the name is used as part of a brand, for example ‘Vertix Nano’ or ‘Tatsoul Envy Gen2 Pico’, even when the sizes are not always the smallest.
‘Bugpin’ is a term derived from tattooing and usually refers to an 08 gauge needle that is 0.25mm in diameter. This term was used back when the 08 was the smallest diameter needle available.
The taper of the needle is one of its most important characteristics and greatly influences the type of work it is suitable for.
Taper determines how fine and sharp the point is. Short taper needles are less fine and less sharp, whereas long taper needles are much sharper and better suited to very fine, detailed work.
Consider that each needle is made up of a number of pins. Each pin has a quoted diameter, for example an 0803RL needle has 3 pins, each of which is 0.25mm in diameter. See Q&A above (What do numbers like ‘0803RL’ mean?) for a fuller explanation.
A 0.25mm pin gets smaller (finer) at the top of the pin towards the point. The length of pin where the diameter is reducing (from 0.25mm to 0.00mm in this example) is the taper.
So a long taper needle will get gradually finer over a longer length of pin. A short taper needle gets finer much more abruptly, and is therefore not as sharp as a long taper pin.
Needle tapers are sometimes quoted in millimetres, but more often are simply quoted as ‘long’ or ‘medium’ taper. As a general guide, although each brand can vary, these are the accepted taper lengths for each:
- Medium (MT) = taper length of 2.5mm
- Long (LT) = taper length of 3.5 mm
- Extra long (XLT) = taper length of 5.5mm
Taper lengths are sometimes quoted on the box, but not always. If you’d like to know the taper of the needles you want to buy, please contact us.
A needle is simply a tool to complete a task. How that tool is used is just as important as the needle itself.
It is perfectly possible to create very fine, detailed work with larger diameter and larger grouping needles. Equally, its easy to create blown-out, migrated work with very fine needles in small configurations.
Hand pressure plays a significant role in determining how deeply the needle penetrates the skin. Seasoned permanent makeup artists develop a ‘feel’ for the skin over time, and consistently hit the ‘sweet spot’ for best results. Exactly how to do that is a matter of training and experience, however much of this is due to hand pressure.
In other words, the size of needle only produces the anticipated result if the technique, including the artists hand pressure, is appropriate for the task at hand.
Whilst the clients individual skin type plays a role here, the type of needle used will affect how much skin resistance, or ‘bounce’, is available to the permanent makeup artist.
Larger diameter, larger configuration and shorter taper needle groupings create more skin resistance. The artist has a greater safety margin and can get away with using a little more hand pressure.
Small diameter, small configuration, longer taper and especially single needle types create much less skin resistance. The PMU artist must manage their hand pressure very carefully as it is very easy to go too deep when using these needles, and compromise the result.
Needle choice is very much a personal thing, and you’ll need to try a few different brands to discover your favourite.
We believe FYT Lush are the best needles available right now due to their consistency, build quality and cartridge design optimised for pigment flow. If you’re not sure which brand to buy, this is a great starting point.
If you’re on a budget, buying cheap PMU needles is a false economy. We sell Dragonhawk needles for those who want them, but they’re cheaply made and many artists feel this compromises their work. A better choice would be Bishop PMU or Tatsoul Envy Gen2 Nano as you get an exceptional quality needle, but available in smaller boxes of 10 instead of 20, so it costs less to stock up.
Permanent makeup artists who trained a few years ago will remember the days of using expensive machines with overpriced specific-fit needle cartridges. Artists back then simply had no choice. These high ticket price machines and needles were all that was available at the time.
Thankfully, things are very different now. Almost every artist now uses universal cartridges in a universal fitment machine. Machines like the Microbeau Xion S, Flux S, Bishop PMU Pen, Axys Valhalla and Dragonhawk Mast have reduced the cost of operating as a permanent makeup artist, whilst greatly improving the choices and creative freedoms available to the PMUA.
Now, permanent makeup artists can choose from a wide range of machines and even broader choice of needle cartridges, enabling them to find the combination that best suits their individual needs, style and preferences.
Needle cartridges for permanent makeup are derived from traditional tattoo needles. However, the best brands are tailored to meet the demands of PMU with custom cartridge casings to optimise visibility and pigment flow, longer taper pins for delicate, intricate work, finger ledges and grips and smaller diameter sizes as low as 0.15mm, far smaller than those typically used in tattooing.
Quite simply, modern permanent makeup artists have never had so much choice and flexibility. If you need assistance to understand your options, or would like some recommendations, please feel free to contact us.