Top Tips by TINA DAVIES: Needle selection is based on personal preference, skin condition and design demands. Consider which configuration will cause the least amount of trauma to your client's skin. To use: insert, twist and lock into place. For optimal pigment flow, adjust the needle hang on your machine to allow the needle to protrude by 2-3 mm. If the needle is extended too far, it may not pick up enough color from the tip as the needle retracts. If the needle is not extended far enough, you will find it difficult to see the tip and may experience pigment pooling. Allow the needle to "draw up" ink into the tip of the cartridge by running the machine and holding the tip in place in your pigment cup. Do not to let the needle hit the bottom of the cup, as this may damage the needle tip. Use a pigment sponge to help. Work off the tip(s) of the needle without forcing it into the skin. If the needle is resistant to the skin, you may need to change to a smaller or tighter configuration to minimize trauma. Maintain a flat surface by gently stretching the skin in small areas at all times to maximize ink deposit and minimize skin trauma. Wipe the tip of the needle frequently to remove buildup of ink. During tattooing, clean the needle cartridge in sterile water to remove buildup and when changing colors. Dispose into a sharps container after use — never reuse a needle once you complete a procedure.