Ever find yourself perplexed by which stroke length you should use? You're not alone. Even seasoned PMU artists can find themselves puzzled over which stroke length is best for any given style, technique, or procedure. Today, we're unraveling all the mysteries associated with stroke length in permanent makeup machines. Get ready to dive into the artistry of choosing your stroke length—what it is, why it matters, and how to make it work for you!

Decoding Stroke Length

PMU artist using a PMU machine and deciding which stroke length to use

Stroke length refers to your needle's movement in and out of its cartridge housing. A 3mm stroke length, for instance, means the needle extends 1.5mm from the cartridge tip and retreats by the same measure.

Why Does Stroke Length Matter?

The impact of stroke length is as dynamic as your art. It influences needle speed, hitting force, hang time, and pigment pickup. Longer strokes pack a powerful punch, ideal for experienced hands and specific treatments. That's because their longer retraction creates more momentum to create greater force. Shorter strokes, on the other hand, are the maestros of delicacy, perfect for the intricate work around the eyes and on the face.

Balancing Act: Stroke Length and Needle Depth

Close-up of PMU cartridge needle in action

Your needle depth (or hang) refers to how far your needles stick out of their cartridge housing. It works intimately with your stroke length. In fact, your stroke length and needle depth need to be in perfect harmony for optimal precision. For instance, if you're working with a longer stroke length, you'll want to have a longer needle depth. That's because with a longer stroke length, your needles will be retracting farther inside the cartridge where they will pick up more pigment. 

Not matching your needle depth to your stroke length can have consequences for your flow and overall end results. For instance, if your stroke length is long but your needle depth is too short, the pigment will puddle on your client's skin, and make it harder to see your work.

Fortunately, most PMU machines offer adjustable needle depth, ensuring your needle stays inside the cartridge long enough to capture the pigment. Too short a hang or too long a stroke can create challenges, so finding that sweet spot is key.

Choosing Your Stroke Length

Three PMU cartridge needles with needle tips sticking out

Permanent makeup machines often come with fixed stroke lengths, each serving a distinct purpose. Short strokes (1.8–2.5mm) craft soft effects, ideal for shaded brows and lips. Medium strokes (3–3.5mm) strike a balance, perfect for confident brow technicians. Longer strokes (4mm and above) are powerhouse performers, excelling in tasks like scalp micropigmentation or scar camouflage.

Mix and Match for Mastery

For the versatile PMU artist, variety is the spice of life. Investing in machines with different stroke lengths opens up a world of possibilities. Soft, powder brows? Try the Microbeau Bellar Air (2.1mm). Exploring diverse styles? The 3.5mm Peak Solice Pen might be your new best friend.

The Power of Adaptability

Some machines, like the Peak Astra, offer an adjustable stroke length—2.5, 3.5, or 4mm cams give you flexibility between treatments. Ideal for seasoned artists juggling various techniques without the hassle of constantly switching machines.

Empower Your PMU Journey

Understanding your tools is the key to unlocking excellence in the PMU industry. For more insights and free educational content, explore our blog and check out our Instagram.

That's the scoop on stroke length—your guide to making the right choices for your PMU empire. Here's to your artistry reaching new heights!