301 W. Heritage, Ste.1,2 &4 Tyler, TX 75703
301 W. Heritage, Ste.1,2 &4 Tyler, TX 75703
Why do some eyebrows appear to turn colors over time? Can this happen to me?
Most of us have seen this before. You're going about your own business, when you see it. You're not sure at first, but after a sneaky second glance, you are certain. Green eyebrows. She couldn't have asked for that, right? How did that happen? Can it be fixed? And more importantly, can that happen to me, too?
Fear not. We are here to answer all your questions! First we will talk about what color shifting is and why it happens, and then we will take a look at how to prevent it.
What exactly is color shifting?
When eyebrows change color over time, we call it color shifting. Depending on the chemical composition and coloration of the pigment used in permanent makeup, it can potentially fade to a wide variety of colors over time. Gray is the most common, followed by cool colors such as greens, blues and purples. Warmer colors such as red, pink and orange are also possible, but they are less likely. It's far more common to see pigments shift towards the cool side of the color spectrum, and there are a few separate reasons for this.
So, now that we've spend a moment on how color shifting happens, lets take a closer look at why.
Types of pigments and mixology
The major determining factor in color shifting is the type of pigment used. Pigments fall into one of two categories: organic and inorganic. Don't let these labels fool you, though. In this context we are not referring to "natural" or "unnatural". All tattoo inks are formulated with both naturally occurring and synthetic components, no mater which category they fall into. Rather, in this context we are referring to living compounds. "Organic" simply describes a particle or substance that was once alive. Inorganic refers to materials devoid of life. So, in this case, inorganic pigments are made from naturally occurring minerals, while organic pigments are derived from living sources, such as plants. In either case, the pigments need to be processed and refined before they can be made into an ink suitable for use in the skin, regardless of whether they are organic or inorganic. These labels only describe the source of the pigments, not the ink as a whole.
So why does it matter? What's the difference?
The different kinds of pigments behave very differently over time. Organic pigments tend to have very bright, vibrant colors, but because the components were once living, they are subject to decay over time. Inorganics
are typically less vibrant, but the colors are far more stable over time. Because the minerals were never living compounds, they are not subject to decay over time, and their chemical composition is more reliable.
At a tattoo shop, artists often prefer organic pigments because they can create beautiful, colorful works of art with them. Additionally, most tattoos are placed in areas where they are protected by clothing at least some of the time. Cosmetic tattooing, on the other hand, is not as easy to protect from the sun, so we require pigments that are more resistant to sun exposure. Luckily for us, we generally need colors that look like natural variations of human pigmentation, so we don't have as much use for vibrant primary colors. Unfortunately, it is very common for pigment companies to market themselves as "organic" to appeal to people's desire for natural ingredients. Because of this, technicians are often compelled by pigments that sound nice, but may not necessarily suit their needs.
These organic pigments are the major culprit of color shifting. Because they are made from living compounds, they decay over time. As months and years pass, these organic components break down in the skin, revealing some of the undertones that were never meant to be seen when the color was mixed. Depending on the colors used, the more dominant tones can remain more prominent, while the cooler tones while less dominant tones begin to fade and eventually disappear, leaving you with off tone colors.
Usually, pigments will be mixed from a range of colors to achieve the perfect tone. For example, a warm brown will require red components to adjust the color. A cooler brown may contain blues or greens to counterbalance the reds in the mix. If these pigments are derived form different sources, they can decay a different speeds, leading to one pigment type dominating over another. So, if you have a cool brown, it may begin to reveal it's blue or green components as the red decays at a faster rate. Because cool tones are dominant, they become more prominent at an accelerated rate as the red fades. On the other hand, if you have a very warm brown that is not balanced with enough cool, it can shift into a shade of red or orange as the cooler components decay. If a carbon (organic) black has been used for eyeliner, this can turn blue over time as the carbon degrades and the keratin in the skin filters out what's left of the warmer tones. All of these changes are caused by the once-living particales decay, which can alter the color of the pigments themselves, as well as the ratio of one pigment to another in the ink.
All of that sounds really scary. Can you prevent color shifting from happening to begin with? And if it does happen can you fix it?
In many cases, we can correct this. We can choose a new pigment to balance out what is left of the old, and restore a natural looking color to the PMU. In severe cases, this can sometimes be difficult, but we usually have great luck with corrections, especially if we have the opportunity to do a follow up. However, do be warned, if a technician uses another natural pigment to correct the shifting of the original, then you have wind up with two distinct sets of color shifting, as you can see in the photo to the right.
The good news is that this issue can generally be avoided to begin with. The key is to use high quality, inorganic pigments that don't decompose and have a long life. Most importantly, the technician needs to use pigments that have been around for a long time, so that they can see how the pigments will look years down the road. Often times, newer artists, and artists who perform their services at a discounted rate will be attracted by cheaper pigments to help them save money and keep their prices low. Unfortunately it comes with a much greater cost in the long run.
At Tyler Permanent Cosmetics, we use only high quality, inorganic pigments that have been around for decades. This means we can see evidence of how well these pigments age even 20+ years down the line. Now, it is important to note that inorganic pigments are not immune to fading. All pigments and inks will fade as a result of sun exposure, but high quality pigments tend to fade more slowly, and they stay true to color. Even as the pigment fades, it will retain the correct hue because the components aren't breaking down in the skin, and therefore the mixology remains constant over time. In addition to being color stable, inorganic pigments are non soluble, which means they don't dissolve. And because they don't dissolve, they cannot be moved by natural body processes. This means that the pigments won't spread out and become blurry over time, like you might have seen in old tattoos from the 20th century.
On the other hand, some brands, are so young that we don't even know how the pigment is going to look healed, much less how they're going to look in the years to come. Why take that risk? There's just no sense taking that kind of gable when we have stable, reliable pigments already available to us in a wide variety of tones. We would rather continue to use the pigments that have been making our clients feel beautiful for years.
All of this is great information, but what if I cant have my PMU done by Tyler Permanent Cosmetics? How can I advocate for myself to make sure that I don't experience color shifting?
We totally understand! Some of our readers are just here doing research before they find a technician closer to home. It is very important to find the right technician for you, and get a chance to ask some questions before you take the plunge. You may be able to do this over the phone, over facebook messenger, or in a face to face consultation. Here are some relevant questions you might want the answers to:
Having a discussion with you technician regarding your goals and concerns is always a good idea. For one, it will help you to to get on the same page with your service provider, but it will also give you an opportunity to get to know them a little bit, and see if they are receptive to your goals and concerns. Cosmetic tattooing is an incredibly personal service, so it is important to choose a service provider who you like and get along with. You want to know that you will be able to work with them for regular maintenance, and you want to feel like they truly have your best interest at heart.
Hopefully the information in this article has been helpful for you, but if you still find yourself left with questions, you are more than welcome to reach out to us and we would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have.