Permanent Makeup Ink vs. Tattoo Ink- What’s the Difference?

Shmulik Dorinbaum
Permanent make-up (tattoo) at beauty salon

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To get tattoo ink into the body, you need to use devices with rotational mechanism coils called tattoo guns. Since more needles are inserted into the skin simultaneously, they are larger, heavier, and more effective. Because of this, they can be rather irritating to the skin.

On the other hand, permanent makeup ink is introduced to the skin using easier devices on the skin than traditional methods. It is much more difficult to maintain control when tattooing the face since the skin on the face is so fragile and sensitive. Thus, the process must be done with extreme care.

Here’s a discussion on permanent makeup ink vs. tattoo ink to help you understand them better.

Permanent Makeup Ink vs. Tattoo Ink: Differences

Color Vibrancy on the Skin

Permanent cosmetics pigments are not the same as tattoo inks because they’re meant to fade away gradually. The pigments are inserted into the skin at a depth that is approximately one-third of a conventional tattoo. Because of this, the color is significantly less vibrant.

Cosmetic tattoo pigments are composed of tiny pigment particles contained in a diluter. Generally, tattoo inks are far more concentrated, translating to a hue that is noticeably more vibrant. This vibrancy gives the skin a more natural and softer color, which you can layer to give a more realistic appearance.


Produced by mixing carbon with various other elements, most frequently nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen, permanent cosmetics inks are created in the laboratory to produce all of the colors that are accessible. Altering the proportions results in different colors being produced. Alumina hydroxide is another component frequently found in organic pigments used in permanent cosmetics.

Person in Black Leather Gloves Holding Black and White Textile

Black is the most popular choice for tattoo ink. Iron oxide, carbon, and logwood are the three components of making black ink. Magnetite crystals, amorphous carbon, wustite, powdered jet, and bone char, acquired through combustion, are the raw materials used to create black pigment known as soot.

Duration Required for the Skin to Heal

Although the operation is less invasive and the ink is not injected deep into the skin, tattoos take two weeks to heal completely. 

In contrast, permanent eyeliner and microblading eyebrows take ten days. This duration is because the pigment is not injected as deeply into the skin. It is essential to carefully document any adverse responses that may develop, including rashes, swelling, or redness.

The Permanence of the Outcome

Permanent Makeup

Permanent makeup pigments are not the same as tattoo inks because they are meant to fade away gradually over time. 

Nonetheless, the quality of the PMU pigments you use will make a difference in the final result. Since the pigment is inserted into the skin at a depth of approximately a third of a regular tattoo, the color produced is far more subtle.

The length varies from person to person and is also dependent on the specific hue and brand that is utilized. The majority of colors have a lifespan of between three and five years, but some may remain vibrant for ten years! If you want to maintain the desired appearance, it is strongly suggested to undergo routine retouching.

Tattoo Ink

Woman Tattoos Body Art Tattooed Skin Tattooed Woman

Tattoo ink is very developed, making it hard for you to wash it clean, and you will also have to keep repeating the cleaning procedure multiple times. Tattoos are unique in that you cannot reverse the process, and even now, the technology for laser tattoo removal is so advanced that it is impossible to do so. 

The reason is tattoos employ a distinct color, and the tattoo pigment particles are on the larger side. Due to this, they are not readily absorbed by the body, making the lock color more long-lasting.

Allergic Response

It is far more likely (although it is still uncommon) to develop an allergic response to tattoo ink than it is to pigments. This variation is because tattoo ink is composed of a complex mixture of many different chemicals. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does permanent ink last?

If you take care of your tattoo and make sure it is kept well, it will last two weeks. On the other hand, permanent tattoos will remain on your skin for the rest of your life.

Is there a difference between eyebrow ink and tattoo ink?

Traditional tattooing uses one sort of ink, whereas microblading employs an entirely different kind. When using microblading, darker colors will not change to blue or brown. The color retains its primary tone even as it becomes less vibrant.

Is it possible to draw a tattoo with eyeliner?

A Shirtless Tattoo Person Holding a Key in Front of a Motorbike

Eyeliner tattoo is a type of cosmetic tattooing frequently referred to as semi-permanent makeup and is done by a qualified professional technician. 

The pigment utilized is not like the ink used for body tattoos, and it is only deposited on the superficial layer of the skin. The color is intended to become less vibrant over time, hence “semi-permanent.”

What are the key distinctions between a traditional tattoo and a cosmetic one?

When getting a traditional tattoo, needles are used on the skin, creating a vacuum that draws the color deeper into the skin. In the case of a cosmetic tattoo, applying the color involves a rotating motor that twists and slices the skin.

Is microblading the same as having permanent makeup applied?

Hannah Chledowski IG

The trendy eyebrow treatment known as microblading creates the illusion of a fuller, more natural brow by drawing on individual microscopic hairs. One of the most significant distinctions between microblading and permanent cosmetics is that microblading requires the individual strands of a line to be drawn by hand. In addition to that, permanent makeup requires more ink than microblading.

What kind of ink is utilized in the microblading process?

There are only two types of pigments used for microblading: inorganic and organic pigments. The “lake pigments” are what industry experts call the pre-mixed organic pigments based on fruit or vegetables and are used to make the organic ink.

Which procedure is more excruciating between microblading and getting a tattoo?

The topical numbing cream (anesthetic) administered before the technique of microblading will likely result in a different sensation and will likely cause less pain than a typical tattoo would. 

The reason is there are fewer needles involved in the treatment. Traditional tattoo artists often don’t utilize any anesthesia throughout getting their clients’ tattoos done.

Is tattoo ink a cosmetic?

Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the inks used in intradermal tattoos, including permanent makeup, are considered cosmetics. Even if they are not applied to the skin directly, this is the case.

Does permanent makeup disappear completely?

Woman applying makeup

Yes. Your permanent makeup will lose its color once after some time. The majority of tattoos begin to fade in less than six months, and it takes between two and three years for them to disappear from the skin completely.

What are the potential risks associated with using permanent eyeliner?

The most significant danger is contracting an infection. It is possible to introduce pathogens to the eyes accidentally, and these pathogens can then spread the infection to the soft tissues nearby. Other potential complications include allergic responses, uneven or severe scarring, the creation of keloids, and migration of the applied pigments.

Who should not obtain permanent eyeliner?

Skin diseases such as eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and dermatitis can alter the skin texture and surface. It’s also possible that the procedure done on the skin would provide less than optimal outcomes.

Final Word

Getting tattoos or permanent makeup is not easy. Why? You might not be sure of the outcome. Plus, you’ll not look behind again after deciding to take that step.

Even though some methods for permanent cosmetics, such as eyeliner and lip liner application, could appear like tattooing, the similarities and differences are evident. The needles used by the tattoo artist are designed to go far deeper into the skin than those used by the makeup specialist.

Permanent makeup is applied directly under the epidermis, the topmost layer of human skin. While on the other hand, the tattoo is placed more deeply into the subcutaneous layer.

Shmulik Dorinbaum

Shmulik Dorinbaum

A musician, a father, a former cancer person, not a tattoo artist, but a tattooed person indeed.