All About Cartridge Needle Backflow

Wondering what backflow for permanent makeup needles and tattoo cartridges is? We’re answering the most common questions we get!

How does backflow happen? 

The needle cartridge is designed to contain a small amount of pigment to reduce the frequency of refills during the procedure. Meanwhile, when the needle moves at an extreme speed level,  it can carry the excess fluid backward or when the user rests the machine down on a flat surface. In addition, the fluid can cross-contaminate the device if the cartridge does not have the correct membrane. 

How does the membrane work?

Pen-style devices with needle cartridges are popular among permanent makeup and tattoo artists today, however, not all cartridges are created equal. While any cartridge may seem to be anti-backflow because they are not attached to the device, not all have the same membrane structure to prevent backflow and cross-contamination. The membrane is a small rubber component housed inside the needle cartridge; its elasticity creates tension by pulling back the needle while the machine pushes out. A proper safety membrane should be sealed entirely and form a barrier between the cartridge and the device. 

Some brands chose to make their barrier with an opening or use a metal spring instead, which does not work the same to prevent backflow. 

How do you know if the cartridge you are using is 100% anti-backflow? 

You can do a simple test by first injecting a small amount of water into the cartridge, then placing the needle side up and pushing the stem down onto a tissue paper. There should be no trace of water going from the bottom of the cartridge to the tissue paper for a true anti-backflow cartridge. Here’s a short demonstration video with the LUMI cartridge:


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