Beware… White is Your Enemy!!!
While flying out to Las Vegas for the SPCP Conference, I had begun to write this article regarding the abuse of white pigment in the skin. Low and behold, Pat Gaultier presented at the conference and her topic was Black and White and it was as though she was finishing my sentences. Pat was simply wonderful in presenting both the verbal and visual ramifications of using white to attempt corrections, cover-ups or to highlight particular areas (other than Montgomery Glands on areola).
On behalf of those who did not get to attend, especially if you are fairly new to the profession, my suggestion is you think of white pigment as your enemy and not your new best friend.
There are many practitioners new to this profession and although extremely talented, do not fully understand the downside of attempting to cover up a mistake with white or beige or highlighting a lip with white or beige. They are not in this profession long enough to see this downside of using white in these instances and it won’t be pretty.
White is titanium dioxide and the only color in our spectrum that is opaque. This is why many believe they can use it to cover something up. It is not sheer and translucent like all the rest of our pigments. It is dense and quite heavy in weight and never, ever leaves the skin. It will simply outlast any color it is mixed with because it is heavier and it will eventually float to the top like sour cream.
To appreciate the density, picture the lifeguards at the beach. They often apply zinc oxide, which is mostly titanium dioxide, across their noses in a big white strip to deflect the sun. It is quite dense. If they were to place a stripe of any of our other colors across their noses, they would be sheer. None of our other colors would provide protection to their noses since they do not have the same density or weight that titanium dioxide has.
Light skin tone pigment or camouflage colors that would match a Fitzpatrick 1-3 will contain titanium dioxide which is white. Attempting to cover up a mistake with a light skin tone pigment may first appear to be effective but it will be short lived. Sooner, as opposed to later, the pigment particles of the beige in this camouflage color will vacate and all that will remain is a yellowy white. It may even appear to be raised and sit on top of the skin surface. It is unsightly! I have even seen white or the yellowish white appear 3-dimensional.
We see these attempts all the time. They are generally made around the eyes, especially on the outer canthus where the top eyeliner was extended too far into the outer corner of the eye, bottom eye lids where the liner was crooked or uneven, eyebrows that have been make too long or low or uneven in the front (both medially and laterally) and around the lips.
Let’s first take a step back and ask why these attempted cover ups are necessary? Why these mistakes? If practitioners took the time to draw on these procedures prior to tattooing, these mistakes would have been avoided. Yes, even a lash enhancement should be drawn on to see how the lashes are seated and the eyelids are shaped. Only then can you identify the subtleties for the most flattering and perfect placement of color.
Lips must be drawn on as well and certainly eyebrows. If measuring tools are used on eyebrows and you check them for evenness before tattooing, there would be no reason for attempting a cover up. Drawing on your procedures is critical to insure you never have to do a cover up.
The latest trend is using white around the lips as a highlighter or to create the illusion of fullness and a vermillion border. This is a dangerous practice since the white will remain forever and possibly yellow, while the lip color will eventually fade. In a few years this will not be attractive. It is not over the counter makeup! White never leaves the skin and eventually yellows so imagine this client up the road. Ask any tattoo artist! If the white of a tiger’s eye is tattooed, it will eventually yellow and have to be tattooed again to whiten it.
This is not the first time practitioners have abused the use of white. Years back, some were attempting filling in wrinkles with white, tattooing the darkness under the eyes with white and tattooing it on the wet line. All of these proved to be great disasters. The under eye areas clumped with whitish yellow and could not be laser removed since white will turn back on contact with a light source. These women were maimed. My late and dear friend, Patti Pavlik, wrote an article, “I Have this Needle Now What Else Can I Do With It”? We addressed these issues of white being used wrongly and the ramifications of doing so. Here we are a decade later addressing these very topics.
How do you rid the skin of white when laser is not an option? Salt removal has proven to be the best solution in my practice. Crooked French Eyeliner procedures where the white was uneven next to the black eyeliner, I did a salt removal and it worked perfectly. Clumps of white that turned yellow used in attempted cover-ups were also removed with salt solution. Salt solution has never let me down! It is the safest and most effective pigment removal system ever discovered.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for our salt removal instructions and post care.
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