301 W. Heritage, Ste.1,2 &4 Tyler, TX 75703 salon Boutique Building
This is probably the most common question we receive. Unfortunately, it's not necessarily the most straight forward answer, especially if you have asked more than one source. Many of our clients are surprised to learn that we expect their permanent makeup to last for years in between color refreshes, when other technicians expect only months in between maintenance sessions. Many of these clients find themselves frustrated and confused by the wide range of estimates they have been given. Today, we are here to help give you a better understanding of all these different answers, and help you understand what to expect.
Before we dive into all the specifics, it is important to note that just because you get different answers from different technicians doesn't mean that one of them is wrong or dishonest. Different technicians expect different outcomes based on their methodology and professional experience. Because of this, the only person who can provide you with an accurate timeline for your PMU is the artist who applies it. Furthermore, the information provided in this article is for general understanding only. We can give you an estimate for services provided to you by our own artists here at Tyler Permanent Cosmetics, but other technicians result's may vary from ours, so if you opt to have your cosmetics applied elsewhere, be sure to discuss the maintenance timeline with your artist.
So, now that that's out of the way... how long does permanent makeup last?
The simple answer: At Tyler Permanent Cosmetics, we generally expect eyebrows and lip color to last 2-5 years between color refreshes, and eyeliner generally lasts about 5-10 years in between color refreshes. The specific timeline will vary from person to person depending on the color that suits them, and level of sun exposure in their daily activities. After consulting with a client we are able to provide a more specific estimate, taking these factors into consideration. Ultimately, color refreshes are provided at the client's discretion, so if you decide you would prefer to come in sooner or later than the recommended window, that is perfectly fine with us. Our goal is to make your permanent makeup suit your life, not the other way around.
It's also worth mentioning that during this time period, your permanent cosmetics will not disappear completely. The color will slowly fade and begin to look a little bit light, so when you get to the point you feel you need to add a little bit of topical makeup, that's usually when we encourage a color refresh. At the time of your refresh we can use the same color and follow the same shape as the first time around, or we can make adjustments if necessary. For example, if you favor a different hair color at the time of your refresh, we can adjust the color a little lighter or darker. Or if you decide you would like your brows a little thicker, we can always add a little. During color refresh appointments, we always check in with our clients to ensure satisfaction. Most of the time, we just top off what we did the first time, but occasionally clients request some adjustments, and when this happens we are more than happy to do a brand new color selection and pre draw as necessary.
Why is there such a wide variance in the estimated lifespan of permanent makeup?
Now that you know what to expect from our artists, we can talk a little bit more about why different artists give different estimates. There are several factors that determine the rate of fading. The most impactful of these are: the method used to pigment the skin, the type and color of the pigment used, the natural pigmentation of the client, and their level of sun exposure. All of these factors come together to create a unique timeline for each client.
Method of Pigmentation
This is likely the most impactful factor when it comes to the longevity of your permanent cosmetics. There are two methods of application of cosmetic tattooing: machine application, and manual application.
The more modern method of application is to use a specialized pen-like machine to implant pigment into the skin with a single needle. When you apply permanent makeup this way, there is less trauma, which means less swelling, less pain, and a smaller wound with a reduced risk of scarring. The machine uses a perforating motion to create a series of tiny punctures that close up and heal quickly. Tis technique creates microscopic pockets that hold color until the skin heals over and seals the pigment in. Because of these factors, the modern tattooing method, often referred to as "nano brows" or "machine hair strokes", generally last 2-5 years or so, if high quality inorganic pigments are used.
However, some technicians prefer to use a microblade instead. The microblade is a manual hand tool that holds a configuration of multiple needles, and this instrument is used like a knife to make cuts in the skin. When you implant color this way, generally more trauma is inflicted to the dermis. Because the microblade is not an actual blade, the wound it creates is not technically a cut, it's a laceration, or a tear wound. The tearing makes it harder for the body to reconnect tissues seamlessly, which increases the risk of scarring. Beyond that, these lacerations create a larger wound, which means the exit for color to escape during the healing process is also larger, leading to more pigment loss in the first week or so of your makeup's life. This is why microblading only lasts an estimated 6-18 months, as opposed to multiple years.
There are many different brands of pigments on the market which use different ingredients, in varying degrees of quality. Lower quality pigments generally don't last as long, and are more prone to color shifting over time. (If you are interested, you can read our article on color shifting here). Higher quality pigments tend to last longer and remain color stable over a longer period of time. There are two major types of pigments used in permanent cosmetics: organic pigments, and inorganic pigments. Organic pigments get their color from plant sources or other living materials. They tend to come in more vibrant colors, but they fade more quickly because they are made of organic materials that are subject to decay over time. Inorganic pigments get their color from naturally occurring minerals. Because there are no living materials in these pigments, the components are not subject to decay over time. this is the main reason inorganic pigments tend to last much longer, and are less prone to color shifting than organic pigments are.
Different Colors Fade at Different Rates
This one may go without saying, but we will throw it in anyways, just in case. Lighter colors fade faster than darker colors. When we say "brows last 2-5 years" this is what we mean is, if you are fair complected and require a soft blonde, then you can expect to need maintenance a little more often than someone who is pigmented and requires a bold brown. The darker your chosen color is, the longer it will take the sun to bleach the color out of it. Pigment in the skin also has the added bonus of shielding the pigment from the sun, which leads us into our next factor.
Skin Tone and Sun Bleaching
The main factor that causes your brows to fade over time is the harmful UV rays from the sun. In much the same was as UV damages your skin, it also damages the color compounds used in your permanent makeup and thereby bleaches the color out. While this is true for all tattoos, it's more prevalent with permanent makeup for two reasons. For one, we're using softer colors as opposed to the harsh black outline used in body tattooing. This black outline is the most permanent part of a traditional body tattoo. Eyeliner can often be black, but for eyebrows and lip color, black is simply not an option if you want your makeup to look flattering and natural. Unfortunately, the softer, more natural tones have a tendency to fade more quickly than the darker, harsher ones. Secondly, your permanent makeup will be exposed to the sun every day, unlike body tattoos which are often covered by clothing that protects them from the sun. Because the sun beats down on your face consistently, especially in Texas, permanent makeup accumulates photobleaching much more quickly than body tattoos, which leads to a faster rate of fading.
However, UV buildup affects folks differently. People with darker skin tones have more melanin to protect them from the harsh UV rays that rain down from above. Because of this built in sunscreen, women with darker skin tones usually find that their PMU lasts longer than women with lighter skin tones, even if the same color is used. Fortunately, anyone can achieve a similar protection by applying sunscreen daily. Using some kind of SPF on a regular basis will help to prevent UV buildup and lengthen the timespan between color refreshes. We recommend sunscreen to all of our clients, regardless of their natural complexion. No matter how much natural sun protection you have, it no one ever complains about a couple extra months before their next maintenance session is necessary.
Beyond all of the major players in the game of longevity, lifestyle factors also play a role. If you're sporty or outdoorsy, or if you work outside, then your PMU will fade more quickly than if you reduced sun exposure. No amount of skin pigmentation or sunscreen will completely negate the photobleaching effect of the sun. Similarly, if you use exfoliants heavily, especially chemical exfoliants such as chemical peels, this can cause your skin cells to regenerate more quickly. We don't recommend clients to discontinue their exfoliation routine, as it is a very important part of good skincare, but we do advise you to be gentle and sparing with the brow area. In general, you don't have to rework your whole life around your PMU, but it is important to know that some of these lifestyle factors will bring you back in for more frequent color refreshes.
Using this information can help you to prolong the life of your permanent makeup, and reduce the frequency of color refreshes. All PMU will still need maintenance work over time, but our goal is to ty to get you the longest life possible out of each refresh! If you would like a more specific estimate based on your unique combination of factors, you can talk with your technician prior to your service so that you know what to expect over the lifespan of your permanent cosmetics!