I have wanted to share my opinions regarding discolored eyebrows for some time. I am basing these opinions on my more than 25 years of experience, using many different pigment companies and analyzing how they heal in the skin.
We receive calls almost daily with questions regarding residuals left from previous procedures. What does one do with this stain or leftover color?
I first want to say that permanent makeup pigment colors, after several years, will leave some stain or residual. A great metaphor I use is, imagine you colored your hair just once, one single time. It would first begin to fade and then the color would continue to change over time until it no longer resembled the original color that was used. It would be unrecognizable and this process is called oxidation. The base color of the hair dye, your climate, your lifestyle and your hair products will affect how this one-time hair color faded and also how it would oxidize.
Permanent Makeup colors will eventually behave in this same manner after years, if not touched up. There will be some residual color remaining that may not even resemble the original color that was tattooed.
There are some residuals that are of concern and some that are not. The residuals that hold no concern for me are: shades of red, orange, coral and pink. In other words, warm residuals.
I do not see these residuals as an issue. I either utilize the warm residual or simply do a cover-up with a taupe shade. I utilize it by adding a taupe shade of hair strokes and allow the warmth to remain in between them. This technique heals out beautifully. If it is a powder brow, I may not add warmth to my selection. This would depend on the amount of warmth I am working over and if there is enough residual to warm my pigment selection.
If we receive a call from a client, regardless of where she had her procedure done and she says her brows are turning orangey, we just tell her it’s time for a color touch-up. We do not make a big deal out of this since it is anything but a big deal!
We are often asked by practitioners if our Face Inks pigments heal red. If you choose a warm base that is too warm, this will occur with any and all pigments.
Light gray residuals can often be ignored, as well, if you are tattooing a darker color than the light gray residual over it.
The more difficult residuals are the darker gray, darker blue, blackish tones and purple. These are not a cover-up. I consider these a color correction and they generally take a minimum of 2 visits. I make no commitment of how many return visits will be required with these types of corrections, although it is rarely more than 2.
Face Inks Goldfinch is a fabulous purple corrector. I will often add some Milk Chocolate to it, since it has a golden brown base.
For the darker grays and blues, I use Henna and Butterscotch.
Turquoise and shades of green simply need red. Adding Henna or Cocoa to your selected brown will help stamp this out. However, if migration has occurred, it may require a salt removal in addition to the color correction.
For correcting color, I always use a 5-round and do not travel nearly as deeply in the skin as I would a regular procedure. My goal and my visual is to place the color on top of the color to be corrected and not place it as deeply as it was initially placed.
We must keep in mind there are many factors that affect how a pigment color wears or fades in the skin. What is their overall complexion? Some very fair people can heal on the cool side while some hold onto the warmth in a color. Ruddy complexions can heal with cool tones, as well, since the pink or redness translates and adds blue to the healed color.
Where are they on the Fitzpatrick Scale? The more color in the skin, the more blue. Deeper skin tones and higher on the Fitzpatrick Scale can tend to heal cool if some warmth is not added to balance the blue in these higher numbers.
What is their skin undertone? The undertone of the skin also affects how color will heal over the years. Warmer undertones often hold onto the warmth in a brow shade while olive tones can eventually oxidize with a cooler tone.
What is their lifestyle and where do they live? Those that spend a great deal of time outdoors will fade more quickly and you will see your pigment residual sooner than those that do not spend time outdoors. Warmer or tropical climates will often tend to pull warm tones.
What skin care products are they using? Retinols and Glycolic Acids can affect the way color ages, matures or oxidizes in one’s skin.
So, all of the above can and will affect the amount of time color will last in the skin and how it will fade out. Do not allow anyone to tell you differently about their pigments!!! Skin is a live organ and is always changing and moving. Skin exfoliates, tans, peels and we expose it to various conditions and chemicals.
So, in conclusion, keep your words sweet, since you never know when you will have to eat them! In other words, be careful not to criticize someone else’s residuals, especially if they are the typical warm or cool residuals, since you will one day be touching up your own!
I am sure you’ve heard of the brilliant book Blue and Yellow Do Not Make Green. It was written by Michael Wilcox, and no one explains color better than he does.
I think it is important that we understand what creates purple brows. If they are occurring in your practice, consider changing the browns you are selecting or try another pigment line.
My experience in teaching all these years is as follows and I still find it sad. Graduates will leave us as well as other primary classes and begin to work and instead of calling their trainers (like us) right away to report a retention problem that we can walk them though easily, they invest in another pigment line or another machine, a whole new line of topical anesthetics, several classes looking for answers, then more pigments and it goes on and on. They finally come full circle, an expensive circle, and end up calling or returning to visit and watch a procedure or class and find they had it all right from the beginning and all they had to do was SLOW DOWN!!!!
Color Undertones Finally Understood
Color theory seems to be the most intimidating part of learning and practicing permanent makeup. It is so overwhelming to new practitioners, and I always vow to make color selection and color theory as simple as possible to everyone, new and not so new.
The first thing I have done as part of this commitment is develop a very concise line of pigments. We simply do not need much more than a handful of brow colors to achieve every shade possible, easily. We accomplished just that with Face Inks.
When you get to use the same great colors over and over, you will achieve the confidence and control you are searching for. If you have a line of 80 brow colors, you will never master them. You will be selecting different colors from this extended line, possibly mix combinations, and never gain control, because you are not repeating them to see how they heal. Or, worse yet, you will find a few of the 80 pigments that work for you and watch the rest expire on your shelf.
Our trainees say to me, “now, we have undertones to learn: both the undertone of the client and the undertone of the pigment we are going to use. I am a nervous wreck about this.”
Let’s simplify that first. Golden brow shades are neutral! Everyonecan wear a golden shade, whether they are warm or cool, and it’s perfect. They can change their hair color to any color of the rainbow, and their brows will still work. Those of you who have trained with us have seen me pick up Milk Chocolate, (previously Hershey Kiss) very often. This is because it is a golden brown. It’s not red and it’s not taupe. Red is warm and taupe is cool, unless taupe is warmed up with Butternut or Butterscotch. Then the taupe shades will become golden which again, is neutral.
In my 26 years of experience, I have learned that to err on the side of warm is much smarter than to err on the side of cool. Cool eyebrows can heal gray, even a steel gray – and that becomes a correction.
If my client were to ever return too warm after her initial procedure, 6-weeks later, on her touch up visit I can simply leave out the warming color I added or use a cooler pigment. However, if she returns gray, I have to correct the color, which will surely lighten it, and then bring her back for the correct shade. This is a very different experience for my client and indicates I’ve made a mistake. Warm residuals are not a mistake. It simply means that too much insurance was added to the formula. Leave out the Butternut or Butterscotch and proceed over the warm undertone and you should have golden eyebrows.
Years after an eyebrow procedure has worn, there will be some residual. It may be warm or it may be cool. What you must understand is that the client’s skin and its undertone play a big part in this, as well as the undertone of the pigment that was used. Skin is a live organ and has a life of its own. Take into consideration: undertone of client’s skin, undertone of pigment or warming color, climate, lifestyle, sun exposure, skin care products, medications, etc. All of this plays a part in how color heals in the skin. We can’t possibly be held responsible for an eyebrow that was tattooed years prior and is showing a residual color. In my language, this simply means they need a touch-up visit!
We receive calls and emails asking if our colors change after years. The honest answer is some do and some don’t, and it has to do with all of the above! We can’t guarantee otherwise.
What if our client was olive-toned – a Fitzpatrick 3, for example- and wanted a medium to dark eyebrow. I would have to warm it up, since her olive tone would cool it off and I need to avoid a gray eyebrow. In years down the road, she may show a warm or cool residual. However, she loved her brows for 3 years since they were perfect. When she calls to tell us that she is seeing this residual, we explain it’s time for a touch-up! Practitioners must stop owning what happens to permanent makeup over time. There will always be a residual! Sometimes, the color you tattooed simply fades and lightens, causing it to appear as a lighter version of what you initially tattooed and sometimes, the undertone of the color is all that remains.
The undertones of each of the Face Inks colors are listed on our color charts. They are detailed and describe exactly how I use them.
Remember, your needle selection will also affect the color and its residual. Smaller needles, Slopes and Microblading will cool your colors off dramatically. Be sure to add a significant amount of warmth to these needle selections.
The point is, there is no such thing as a line of pigments that can guarantee that they do not change after years of wear. That would be like a hair color company guaranteeing that if you colored your hair once, it won’t change color. Of course it will! Shampoos, conditioners, sun, lifestyle and climate will all affect how it oxidizes, and thus how it changes color.
One last thing about color: the climate has a great deal to do with your selection. Debi Diorio in Florida, who does more eyebrows than anyone I know, uses Soft Ash as her staple with small needles, and she does not have an issue with gray residuals. Most of her clients are fair. Here in NJ, I would see more gray residuals if I didn’t warm Soft Ash up with a ½ drop of Butterscotch. So, please, consider where you are practicing and the amount of sun your clients are living in, day to day.
Countless times, we have been asked how to prevent bluing as black eyeliner fades.
One’s complexion plays a huge role in how black stays black. The best metaphor I can give you is to watch a professional basketball game for just five minutes. You will see many races, nationalities and complexions on the court, and many of these players have tattoos. In their tattoos, you will notice several shades of blacks and blues. This is due to their skin undertones. So, you see, we must place some responsibility on our clients for how black their eyeliner will remain. We can use the same black pigment on half a dozen women with different ethnic backgrounds and achieve six different results. Skin is a live organ and when we are working in it, we are working with someone’s DNA. These characteristics play a huge part in how color will heal in the skin.
There are many black pigments to choose from in our permanent makeup world. Face Inks has developed five blacks and they each achieve a different result—which basically means more or less blue and more or less intensity.
Onyx: Plain Onyx is quite blue. I tend to use this on my fair women with blue eyes. It is dark but if they are natural blondes or redheads, it will achieve a blue cast much quicker. I like to place the Onyx C (Carbon) between the top lashes and use the plain Onyx on the lid. This provides a deep frame and softer eyeliner. It’s quite beautiful.