How deep should I Stroke?

In my 12 years of permanent make-up, I have found this to be the trickiest part of permanent makeup to master and took me the longest to understand. 

To be a skilled permanent makeup artist understanding needle depth or the depth of pigment placement is crucial. I believe this to be more important than creative skill.  After all, you might be an amazing artist but if you’re not placing the pigment in the correct layer of the skin you will not create clear, crisp strokes. 

Throughout my practice of 12+ years, I have found that there are basically 4 different types of skin thickness.

To make it a bit easier to understand, I like to group in to 4 different foods that I would compare to skin thickness:

From my experience the smaller the needle grouping used for the eyebrows the more ash the healed procedure will appear, mainly due to the fact the smaller the needle will slice deeper into this skin and we now know the deeper the pigment is placed then the more ash the healed procedure will appear.  So, when using an R1-R3 needle and your client wants a warmer eyebrow, you will need to compensate for this needle by choosing a slightly warmer pigment for the brow procedure.


  • Most difficult and not always suitable for permanent makeup 
  • Super-thin 
  • Hypersensitive
  • Pinkish skin tone
  • Translucent with barely any upper skin layer
  • Invisible pores on eyebrows
  • Could have or be susceptible to Rosacea or dermatitis
  • Fitzpatrick Scale 1
  • Bleeds immediately on needle contact, this will dilute the pigment that you are placing into the skin and therefore the strokes will not retain as well or sometimes at all


  • Thin, but not as thin as egg
  • Tiny pores
  • Non-translucent
  • Ivory/fair skin tone
  • Fitzpatrick Scale 1 – 2
  • Can bleed easily


  • Small pores
  • Non-translucent
  • Fitzpatrick Scale 2 – 6
  • Doesn’t bleed easily
  • Can be sensitive


  • Most difficult
  • Sometimes not suitable for hair strokes as the thick, oily skin blares the strokes together
  • Better suited to brow shading 
  • Large Pores, the pigment will not always retain because of this 
  • Oily skin
  • Fitzpatrick Scale 2 – 6
  • Either be non-sensitive or sensitive
  • Can bleed easily or not at all

Pro tips

Checklist to help you understand needle depth 

  • Fitzpatrick Scale 
  • Which food group is your client 
  • Age
  • Medication
  • Needle type  

Hopefully the above helps those deliver the perfect stroke, for more information get in touch or book onto one of our Permanent Make Up courses today.



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