Permanent makeup pigment vs tattoo ink

At Suki Su Permanent Makeup, we refer to cosmetic tattooing as permanent makeup because we can assume that some residual trace of any pigment ingredients will remain in the skin forever, even if you can’t see them.

Some makeup artists refer to it as ‘semi permanent’ makeup because it gradually fades over time as the pigment breaks down in the skin. This can be slightly misleading as it gives an impression of being temporary – just because you can’t see it does not mean it is not there.

A lot of people also wrongly think that permanent makeup ink pigment is the same as tattoo ink. Body art tattoo ink is designed to be truly permanent and fades in a different way over time.

Body art tattoos are made by implanting the ink into your dermis (as is PMU – see diagram below). When a tattoo needles puncture the skin, it creates a tiny wound to which the body responds.  It kicks in the immune system and sends special cells, known as macrophages to the area in order to heal the cut skin and swallow any ‘foreign bodies’. Other cells, such as fibroblasts will also suck up the tattoo ink. These pigment particles are too large for macrophages to destroy, so they become stuck in the dermis.

Comparatively, permanent makeup ink lacks the particle size which body art tattoo ink has and so the colour fades more quickly. This is why we recommend your colour boost at around every 12-18 months. If permanent makeup ink pigment molecules were bigger, the colour would be denser and more permanent. Also, permanent cosmetic pigments are designed especially to complement many different skin tones so that your results are as natural as possible.

The difference between PMU & body art tattoos are sometimes wrongly described by body art tattoos being deeper in the skin. This is not correct. Tattoo artists and permanent makeup artists both tattoo into the dermis layer of the skin. If the ink doesn’t go in deep enough to reach the dermis then it will only go in to the epidermis which will fade out as the skin goes through its natural shedding process over the course of a 2-4 week period.

If you are considering permanent makeup Harley Street or permanent makeup North London and have any questions and/or would like to visit our clinic for a free consultation message us here.