If you are a client who knows that permanent makeup is merely a form of tattoo, you must be wondering why you see people with eyebrows that do not have the same “spirit” as their body art tattoos.

It is a valid curiosity, and the answer is somewhat complicated.

Long before I learned to tattoo permanent makeup, I had my eyeliner done at massive expense in 2007.  I wanted “subtle” …not at all realizing the limitations to this.  My artist dissuaded me, and I went with basic black.  I sure did like it but after 3 years, the ink was gone…. I mean TOTALLY GONE.

In spending $750, of course, I was less than impressed.  That artist continues to operate today out of town, and they will remain nameless, but I now know the reason that my permanent eyeliner was not permanent at all.  While I wish this was explained to me, the artist herself did do a nice job.

It was the ink.

So, addressing the type of ink is just one way of explaining why “permanent” makeup fades, and why some artists call the treatment “semi-permanent”.

There are two types of ink used by permanent makeup artists.  One type is known as carbon based (organic) and is very long lasting.  The other is known as iron oxide (inorganic) and is known to fade out…in some cases completely, after a few years.  So, the first thing you might wonder is why all artists do not use the carbon-based variety and stop taking your money for colour boosts every 18 months or so!!!

Trust me, this is not a matter of taking your money. It is a matter of standing by our work.  The issue for the carbon-based variety of tattoo/permanent makeup ink is that, while it does last longer, the colour can often turn ash (bluish grey).  I experienced this with many clients, and it really bothered me because that is not what I am paid for.  Worse is that when this occurs, it requires a correction before I can refresh the colour.

After 4 years of waffling over long term brows versus ashy brows, I decided to switch entirely to iron oxide ink that lasts less time but does not change in colour to a difficult-to-correct ash.  This ashing does not happen to everyone because many things play a role in how your permanent makeup heals over time…. much of which involves your lifestyle (sun, medications, skin care products, climate fluctuations and weather exposure), but when I noticed so many other artists complaining about this I decided to switch.  Another reason that these inks cause permanent makeup artists problems, and not body artists, is that the face is decidedly very different from the body for the purposes of our work.  This is a critical point to keep in mind.

BUT ONLY FOR EYEBROWS.  Why only eyebrows?

Eyebrows are meant to be brown.  Sometimes they are very very dark brown, bordering on black, but given the demographic in Sault Ste. Marie, I have yet to be faced with choosing a charcoal for an eyebrow colour.  Here, brows, so far, are intended to be brown.  Iron oxides come in a wide array of browns, and they stay that way until they fade away.  If they happen to change colour, this, again, is likely due to lifestyle issues that cannot be avoided.  They will not, however, turn ash and can much more easily be corrected.  I would rather my clients return for colour boosts and an easy correction, if at all necessary, than to have them come back with brows the colour of a dark stormy sky.

However, that is for brows.  Coming back to my own eyeliner experience, I know now that my artist used iron oxide black for my eyeliner and that is why it is no longer there.  For what I paid and for the ordeal of tattoo needles near my eyes, my personal credo is that I do not want to see my clients get regular colour boosts for eyeliner.  If black is black, and carbon-based ink are the purest of black then that is what I will use for your eyeliner.

Your black eyeliner, depending on your skin colour, will not remain a strong pure black over time…. this is true even of body art tattoos and has to do with light scattering and what the eye sees through the skin, as well as the aforementioned exposure issues.  It will, however, be there for a long time to come and colour boosts are all up to you.  (Wish I had known this in 2007!!).

When it comes to any other colours I use, such as blues or greens for eyeliner, or reds for lips, they are true and pure colours and in these cases I use carbon based (organic) inks.  I want other treatments, as well, to remain in the skin for a long time without the requirement of colour boosting on an annual or semi-annual basis.

These are all my choices and are based on experience and lots of conversations with colleagues.  The permanent makeup industry has 2 camps…. the iron oxide camp and the carbon camp and often they use one line of inks and stick with that.  I admire that.

I now have a single line of inks I love for eyebrows…. clearly the most popular service.  For eyeliner, lips, and any paramedical work I stick with tried-and-true regular tattoo ink (carbon-based/organic) for the best, most vibrant and longest lasting results.

As for people referring to permanent makeup as semi-permanent, from a customer standpoint, this is understandable considering what I have discussed in this blog.  If it fades, then how can we call it permanent?

The fact of the matter is that it does not always fade.  It does in some people and not in others.  From a scientific standpoint, tattooed ink molecules whether faded or not, are presumed to remain in this skin and, therefore, it is misleading for us to state the work as “semi” permanent.  This could lead to legal implications for us, so we near to be very clear.  Not that any of this really is that clear at all!!

But I sure do hope this little blog helps.     Yours in natural beauty, Katie