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Tattoo Machines

Permanent Makeup vs. Tattoo Ink

Tattoo ink and permanent makeup (PMU) pigments do share some basic ingredients, but as semi-permanent makeup falls under the umbrella of cosmetics, the ingredients used are strictly regulated to minimize the risk of allergic reactions. It is also important to remember that the skin on the face is a lot more fragile when compared to other parts of the body – people can have permanent makeup applied to the delicate skin of their lips or their eyelids, so the ingredients found in pigments need to account for this.

Most permanent cosmetic pigments are iron oxide based, an ingredient that is found in traditional cosmetic products, food, medications, and sunscreens. This ingredient is considered one of the safest and most stable color agents - it is non-toxic and allergic reactions also are almost unheard of. Cosmetic-grade oxides tend to fade over time, which is useful when applied to our face. 


Iron oxide pigments are more stable and less likely to migrate (causing blurring of a tattoo). Traditional tattoo inks barely fade, meaning that as the normal aging of the skin occurs, the drooping will also apply to the tattooed makeup, whereas if you get the easier-fading option, you can get a ‘facelift’ by getting your eyebrows up higher next time. What you may have noticed about tattoo ink is that the black begins to subtly turn blue, but that color change is accounted for in cosmetic pigments so that your black eyebrows will not turn blue.

Tattoo ink is a lot more concentrated than PMU pigments meaning the colors often appear bolder, brighter, and sharper. Permanent makeup pigments have much smaller particles than tattoo ink, meaning that healed results appear much softer and more natural – perfect for replicating brow hair strokes or subtle lip blush. This is also one of the main reasons why PMU pigments gradually fade over time, whereas traditional tattoo ink is more for permanent body art and is difficult to remove.

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