PICKING A PIGMENT LINE

Word of Mouth

There are so many pigment ranges out there, and new pigments are launched in the industry all the time.  When choosing a pigment line, the best approach is word of mouth (there are many Facebook forums out there such as the ‘microblading & machine artist’s help and advice Australia’ and to purchase a few colours to try.  Once you are happy with the brand and healed results, stick with that one brand – it is not advised to use two different brands when mixing pigments together. 

PMU Trainers

Some known trainers in the PMU industry release their own line of pigments.  Again, make sure you trial the pigment before you invest in the whole pigment range ensuring that you are getting the best quality for your money.

Brand Longevity

There are various reasons for poor healed results – incorrect depth by the technician, incorrect technique for the skin type to name a few, but sometimes this will be due to the quality of your pigments.  Invest in pigment ranges that have been around for some time; you will note that the top tattoo artists will be using these ranges and there is a good reason for this.  The pigments they are using are stable and have a high-performance rate.  Be sure that your technique is on point and that you have a high understanding of colour theory, only then can you get an accurate healed result when trialling a new pigment range. 

Manufacturer Discloser

Due to proprietary information manufacturers are not required to divulge the contents of their pigments.  For example, in the US the FDA – Food and Drug Administration – do not regulate pigments that are implanted under the skin. Low grade quality pigments will often have no ingredients listed on their product, or sometimes false ingredient labels.  Due to the risk of adverse reactions and allergies that clients may experience from the pigment, it is vital that you choose a pigment brand that has a comprehensive ingredient list.

Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

Large pigment manufacturers will be able to provide a Materials Safety Data Sheet on their product line – an average of one sheet per pigment colour.  Information included are safety precautions, handling of the product, pigment toxicity, PH and emergency advice.  These companies also tend to supply product identifiers, ingredient composition, colour swatches, storage and waste guidelines, and will even have allergy testing results. 

Lightfastness Ratings

Lightfastness is an indication of the chemical stability or resistance of a pigment to change when exposed to UV light over a period of time.  Light will cause colour and chemical changes in various pigments.  Knowing the lightfastness rating of a pigment will help determine the stability and longevity of a cosmetic tattoo.  The “Blue Wood Scale” is used in the PMU industry to determine the level of lightfastness – 8 being excellent and 1 very poor.

It is important that when a manufacturer combines colourants in a pigment mix that the lightfast rating of each component is the same or very similar.  If these components are not balanced each component will degrade at different levels resulting in leaving a dominant hue over time in the skin – for example blue or red. Aim for a 7-8 Blue Wool rating.  This information can often be found on the manufacturers website.

Pigment Load 

This is the balance of the amount of pigment and binder/carrier ingredients in each pigment bottle.  A higher pigment load, the higher the quality of pigment, a more concentrated hue and therefore a lower tendency for colour change and fading.  These pigments will be more expensive reflecting the cost of materials used. A “shading solution” (comprising of alcohol, diluted water and glycerine), is often used by cosmetic tattoo artists to dilute the pigment therefore achieving a softer look for the client – for example a combination brow – light shading over microblading.  Make sure to use the recommended dilution scale from the brand that you are using.

Colour Identification Charts (CIC)

These charts are very helpful in gaining confidence when choosing the correct pigment for your client.  They will help identify whether a pigment is cool or warm, the base tone, guidelines for which colours to use for different skin types, and corrective colours to use. The Tina Davies and Permablend line for example have excellent colour charts to refer to.

Cruelty Free or Vegan

It is important to note that some companies will say that they are cruelty free and vegan as the final product in the bottle will not contain and animal substances.  However, this is misleading as animals may have been used and harmed during in the process of developing the components of the pigment. Other tools and products used during the cosmetic tattoo procedure such as green soap and ointments may also not be cruelty free.  Make sure to do your research when purchasing these products for your kit.

For example, if you choose a low-quality pigment or incorrect colour choice for your clients skin tone, the healed outcome will result in a faded blue, red or grey tattoo.  You may have created a perfect shape for your client, and beautiful hairstrokes or an ombre brow for your client, only for the resulted healed colour to ruin all your hard work, and thus not showcasing your talent skill, and technique. 

An excellent procedure done by you can be undone by one simple step – colour/pigment selection. When selecting a pigment shade, you must take into consideration your clients under and over tones of their skin. You would not match a pigment shade based on, for example, just the client’s hair/brow colour. It will be the client’s under/over tone of their skin that will determine the healed result of the pigment in their skin. 

Also, some pigment bottles will be packaged in such a way that the bottle will be slightly opaque. A dark brown pigment may seem darker than it actually is upon application. Always test the pigment on the client’s skin when choosing an appropriate colour.