Whats the difference?

Posted on February 13, 2021 by Categories: Blog

A lot of clients ask me what the difference is between permanent make up and body art tattooing, so I thought I’d get my geek on and write a little blog to explain!

As a permanent make up artist I have a huge choice of equipment, some made specifically for the permanent make up industry and some originally designed for body tattoo artists. I have several machines and handpieces that I love and always have my eye on a couple more to add to my collection! I generally prefer the lighter weight permanent make up handpieces – especially for very delicate work and also finer needles rather than bigger ‘groupings’ including my favourite acupuncture needles – amazing for those tiny little hairstrokes!

Permanent makeup ink pigment and tattoo ink are different and this explains the reason why permanent make up is ‘freshened up’ every year or so. Body art tattoo ink is formulated to be permanent and fades differently to permanent make up pigment.

Body art tattoos and permanent make up are both made by implanting pigment into your dermis. When a tattoo needle punctures 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’. The pigment particles in permanent body art pigment are too large for macrophages to destroy, so they become stuck in the dermis.

The particle size in permanent makeup pigment is much smaller 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. Permanent cosmetic pigments are designed to complement many different skin tones for a natural result. By gently fading in time, it allows us to refresh the pigment to keep a natural appearance, to match changes in hair colour, skin tone and changes in personal preference too!

Microblading works in a similar way – the same pigments are used and the pigment is implanted into the same layer of the skin. But instead of a digital handpiece, a manual tool is used. Some may think that this is not a tattoo, but whenever we implant pigment into the skin it is fundamentally a ‘tattoo’. 

I hope that explains a little bit of what I use and why I use it!