Difference Between Micropigmentation & Tattoo Ink

We are happy to report that the world is getting on board with micropigmentation, otherwise known as permanent make up. Beyond aesthetics and a convenient approach to daily make up routines, micropigmentation can change people’s lives, especially after surgery or a medical treatment. It is being used by women and men to gain or restore a sense of confidence and pride in their outward appearance.

Micropigmentation is a wonderfully innovative cosmetic procedure that enables people to alter and enhance the shape and fullness of their eyebrows, hairline, lips, eyes, and scalp (it is becoming a widely utilized procedure for men who are balding).

We answer a lot of questions about these techniques… most often: what is the difference between micropigmentation and traditional tattoos? Do they use the same inks?

Let’s start with micropigmentation ink

Permanent make-up or micropigmentation is done with a small, very thin needle, which deposits a mineral pigment into the second layer of the skin. The micropigment ink will fade over time, lasting anywhere between two to three years.

The technical basics are more or less the same between the two procedures, with the difference in the details. The needles used in micropigmentation are generally smaller and thinner. The ingredients in the inks are different, too.

Cosmetics products, including permanent makeup pigment ingredients, are more regulated than tattoo ink, and must be approved by the body (Health Canada or the FDA) that regulates cosmetics.

Permanent make up pigments are also made up of smaller pigment particles that are suspended in a diluting solution. This allows for a more natural, softer colour in the skin, which can be layered to create different depths and visual techniques like the feathered hair look you see in eyebrows. The result is a more natural looking finished product.

Traditional tattoo inks are much more concentrated

So that the hue appears brighter, bolder, and stronger. Some tattoo inks also contain iron oxide, and may be more likely to induce allergic reactions, which can be attributed to the presence of nickel. Iron oxide also has magnetic properties, and some people may not want pigment that has these properties under their skin.

Traditional tattoo application also utilizes tattoo machines with thicker needles that pierce the skin deeper and deposit the ink in a deeper layer of skin.

You will find that if you put recently inked brows beside a recently inked thigh tattoo, the saturation of the ink into the skin will be noticeably different.

Traditional tattoos are also longer lasting — in fact they are permanent in the true sense of the world in that they will stick with you your whole life.

If you are thinking about enhancing your look with micropigmentation, we recommend you do your research first. We have heard stories where training and education is not as robust as one would like, and the result is a botched job. This can be traumatizing and just plain horrible, so make sure you go somewhere reputable and with artists who have a lot of experience while also following all provincial regulations (the same is true for traditional tattoos). We recommend you think twice before volunteering to be a “test model” for someone practicing in order to save a few bucks.

At Snob Academy, we take this work very seriously and offer nothing but the best. If you have any questions about any of our teaching procedures or techniques, we would love to hear from you!

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