There's so much to know about choosing pigment colors for permanent makeup. Understanding color theory underneath the skin is about knowing what color is needed for long term healed results. The long term healed results are a combination of color and our skin's undertones. Our skin is translucent and acts as a film, either cool or warm. For example, holding a blue film over a brown pigment. The color is not the same color you would see on a white sheet of paper.
Watch a skin color theory course for free. to fully understand skin undertones.
Pigments used twenty years ago for permanent makeup were very different from pigments used today. Today, most permanent makeup artists use a combination of organic and inorganic pigments. In food, when we say organic, we are referring to zero pesticides. In chemistry when we say organic, we are referring to the material coming from organic matter versus developed in a lab, such as carbon.
Let's compare carbon-based pigments with iron oxide-based pigments.
Carbon-based pigments are considered organic.
Iron Oxide (inorganic)
Titanium dioxide is an inorganic compound, meaning synthetically made in a lab, and used as a bonding agent in many pigments.
Pigment color plus the client's skin undertone color equals the healed results color. When you first implant the pigment onto the skin you are looking directly at it. As it heals it's covered with a layer of skin. The color you see under the skin is not the same color that was in the bottle or when initially applied.
The color we choose is going to be the opposite of your skin's undertone in order to keep the color neutral under the skin.
Warm colors have a lot of red and adding that to a warm-toned client will result in red-looking brows.
Cool colors have blue and adding that to a cool-toned client will result in blue/gray brows.
Why do colors fade to red and blue?
When choosing a pigment for eyeliner it is important to look at the ingredients and skin type. Carbon pigments have the highest pigment load for the richest black color but the highest risk for color migration. Iron oxide pigments have a lower risk of migration due to larger molecule sizes giving lighter coverage. Learn more about carbon-based and iron oxide eyeliner pigments.
In order to ensure that black stays true to color without turning blue under the skin, the color is pre-modified with orange to counter one's melanin color. This applies to all skin types. Our skin is a filter therefore what we see on top of it is not what we see below. Just like our blood is red but our veins look blue or green based on skin undertones. The same theory applies here.
Color on rich melanin lips requires more applications than on lighter color lips to achieve the same results. This is simply because lighter colors will not show up well on a darker foundation.
The process used to neutralize darker tones works by using a contrary color, based on the color wheel, to the natural lips before applying the desired color.
For example, lips with dark blue-purple tones can be neutralized with an orange-peachy color.
This multiple-step process requires time and patience.
The first application of color will be a neutralizing color to counter the darker tones usually choosing an orange, peach, or salmon color.
As it heals, it often looks darker before looking lighter. This is because the pigment is slowly settling into the skin, and as it travels through the layers the darker tones show up. Once the color settles it neutralizes again.
The desired color is then used on the second and third applications once the natural lip color is light enough to cover successfully.
In 1975, dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick created a classification system to predict sensitivity to UV light. The scale ranges from 1 being the fairest hair, eyes, & skin, to the darkest, most melanin-rich at 6. The Fitzpatrick scale is not only useful for the prevention of skin cancer, but cosmetic tattoo artists rely heavily on it to choose which permanent makeup pigments to use. Our skin is like a filter therefore the color we see on top of the skin is not the same as the one below.