When to Correct a Color Residual and When NOT to!

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!

Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green

bluegreennoI 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.

Why did he choose this catchy title? Because blue and yellow don’t always make green. It depends on the base of the yellow and the base of the blue. So, you get the idea. The base of the color will change the outcome. 
Here’s an example that pertains to permanent makeup: Why do we see so many purple eyebrows? If the base of a brown pigment is purple, it had to be made with a blue and red or a blue-based black and red pigment. If you add a warm yellow-orange or an orange to warm it up (Butterscotch), you will end up with a very purple eyebrow. The reason behind this is that red and yellow made the orange that you added to warm up the brown, which was made with red and blue or a red and blue-black pigment. This made the purple base.The red from the orange, which was added to warm the brown, already had a purple base. This purple base that was obviously made with red and blue just became more prominent. So… you never want to use a brown with a purple base. How do you tell? Smear your colors out on white paper and run them under water. You’ll see the base of the color right there.To correct these purple brows, you need a green-yellow (Goldfinch), and not a warm one. The green-yellow is cool, and it has no red to accelerate the purple in the brows. Goldfinch with a little Milk Chocolate is a terrific corrector for purple eyebrows. I use a 5 round and don’t go as deeply as I would in a regular or initial procedure. You want the corrective formula on top and not at the same level or below the purple residual.

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.

Please Slow Down…

blogImgMy 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!!!!  

I have so many practitioners that can avow to this discouraging cycle and I always feel so badly they suffered through this. We know how well Face Inks works since we all use it and we are the fastest growing company in the country. 
Ten minute eyeliner, 20 minute brows, 8 minute lips are all nonsense if you are an artist. They believe these myths and question everything they learned and purchased. All they had to do was come and visit or at least call. 
When our graduates return and see how simple it was and there is no panacea with a pigment or a machine. It lies all in our hands!!! 
If you are a Beau Institute graduate and you are struggling, please call us or please come visit. You can assist us while we are working and mix our colors and we will explain every step of what we are doing. Our clients never mind. They know we are a teaching institute. Sometimes, if I don’t have an apprentice, they will say; no one is here today? They enjoy your company!
It could be one procedure that you find intimidating or not retaining as well as you would like. Whatever it is please come back. 
If you have been away from the profession for some time, then schedule a day or two of hands-on procedures rather than go out and keep buying that elusive and non-existent solution.
We tell our trainees on the first day that we don’t go away and those that have called on us know that is exactly how we built our reputation. No one should ever be uncomfortable or embarrassed to come back and say they need help.
My passion and all of our trainers feel the same way and that is our success is YOUR success. Our passion is to raise the barre so we all do beautiful work and fall in love with performing permanent makeup. 
I want to be clear that we encourage you to take many, many courses and attend many conferences over the years but you must get your basics down first. Additional classes and conferences will make so much more sense and you will leave them with so much more. 

Color Undertones Finally Understood

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.

Warm Residuals: 

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.

How to Prevent Bluing as Black Eyeliner Fades

Countless times, we have been asked how to prevent bluing as black eyeliner fades.

I’d like to explain that there are many reasons for this blue residual that appears at various times, from weeks to years.

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.

On a basketball court, you will see fair men with very blue tattoos that were meant to be black. You will see some black men with blue tattoos and others that are still black. This could be due to the age of the tattoo or the ink used. Now, look at an in-between complexion and you will see various shades of blacks and blues. This is a great metaphor to give to your client that is insisting she wants her eyeliner to remain black forever and not like her friend’s that turned blue. I explain to my client there are no guarantees on what their complexion will do with it and how black it will heal in their skin. I know it’s going to be very black if I use Black Noir with 2 drops of Carbon. But it is a great reality to give your client.  
You may question why we see black tribal tattoos on people that seem to remain black but our eyeliner procedures do not. We cannot – and I repeat we CANNOT – use these black inks on the face, especially around the eyes. This would be dangerous on many levels, with migration being the highest level of danger and allergic reactions coming in a close second. These inks come with the tremendous risk and high probability to river into the surrounding area of the eyes and cheeks. You must also know that they, too, will eventually turn bluish since blue will always be dominant in black, regardless of whether you’re working with ink or pigment, and the base of these tribal inks is blue.

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.

Almost Black: Almost Black is a favorite among many practitioners and is a soft black that tends to have the eventuality of a gray fade as opposed to blue. It is great for women that are not quite committed to the black liquid eyeliner look but need a dark liner. It also slips into the skin, very nicely.

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.

Onyx CI (half Carbon and half Iron Oxide): Onyx CI is a great black when you want to achieve dark black eyeliner that generally pulls more grayish tones over the years. However, remember that your client’s complexion plays a tremendous role in how black will fade out.
Black Noir: Black Noir, our most popular black, has a warm base. It is our blackest black on most complexions. The base of the black has a significant effect on how long black pigment will remain black. If there is a bit of warmth added to the black to alter the base, you can achieve a longer lasting black.
Onyx C: Onyx C is Face Inks straight carbon. This can be used straight between top lashes ONLY!  However, I do darken Black Noir by adding 1-2 drops of Onyx C to a half cup of Face Inks Black Noir. I find I can achieve the blackest black with this formula. I never use a needle smaller than a 3-Outliner when I am adding Carbon. Carbon is ink and has no particle size. This can increase your risk of migration, especially with the use of smaller needles.
It’s important to know that any eyeliner color can migrate if placed too deeply. Use caution when performing this procedure.
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