The biggest misconception in cosmetic tattooing is that your healed results will look exactly like the photos of freshly tattooed brows that you may see on your favorite artist's Instagram feed. Results vary from person to person and are highly dependent on several factors: artist technique, pre-care, aftercare, and the condition that your skin is in.
Cosmetic Tattooing is a technique by placing pigment in the upper layer of skin to mimic the look of natural, fuller brows; whether that’s with just hair like stroke patterns, or a full shaded powder brow. I’m making this blog post to educate clients and/or other artists and create the level of transparency needed to fully understand what cosmetic tattooing is.
Cosmetic tattooing is always going to heal like a lighter version of your freshly tattooed brows. The technique and careful pigment choice is designed to heal very natural. Depending on your lifestyle and preferences, this may not be enough for you to replace your makeup. You typically come back for the suggested touch-up appointment and that's where we continue to build. After the healing process, the pigment is healed into the first layer of skin, making this semi-permanent and soft looking. Because the pigment is now in the skin, and not a topical fresh wound, you may feel like you "lost a lot of pigment" or "it didn't stay", but often times they healed exactly how they were supposed to, and your expectations for fresh vs. healed weren't clear. Your artist can help you better on talking through how your skin did with retention and if everything is looking how it's supposed to. This leads into my next topic:
There’s a system in place with building saturation when we offer the second appointment to do another round of pigment placing. With the nature of it’s healing, it’s highly recommended to come to the second session to get your desired results of saturation and density build up.
There are lot of different reasons someone could have light retention, but let's just stick to the body for now. Before you come into the studio, we send a consent form discussing all the medical constrictions on if you're a good candidate or not. We send this with plenty of time before the appointment. It's very important to be truthful during those questionnaires because it could make or break making this worth it for you. Though rare, "undiagnosed medical conditions" could also be a contributing factor towards light retention. For an example, untreated thyroid conditions could absolutely cause lighter retention, but if you're unaware of this medical issue, and the artist is unaware of this medical issue, there's a lot of confusion and it's very easy to blame the artist on not properly tattooing.
Because every body is so uniquely different, we would never be able to guarantee any healed results. Although our clients like to joke, we aren't magicians and we aren't miracle workers. We are highly trained to perform the service and do it with the technique that is the most properly suited towards your skin and your goals.
Here's apart of an article I found explaining in good detail about this topic:
"There are SO MANY FACTORS that go into how much or little your brows will fade, and some of it has to do with your genetics (like hormones), and also your specific skin type. Generally, oily or combo skin types will have fading faster than dry to normal skin types. Also, younger clients VS. more mature clients will experience fading quicker due to the skins cellular turnover rate being higher when we are younger, and every year the rate slows down.
You can expect lighter colors like blondes to fade quicker than dark browns, and that is just because of how light the pigments are to start out with, so the fading will be more noticeable. There are also environmental factors like being out in the sun or tanning that will prematurely fade the tattoo and can also change the color darker. Every tattoo pigment is made up of a range of different colors to create that nice blonde, brown/ or black and each of those colors has a different lightfastness rating. Basically what that means is that each color breaks down under UV light at varying rates, causing one or more of the colors to fade quicker than others and leaving only the colors that have a higher lightfast rating. Most high-quality tattoo pigment companies try to create their formulas to have the same or very close lightfast ratings to prevent this from happening, so the brow color will fade at a even rate and not leave behind a unwanted color, like orange or green. Sometimes it cannot be avoided, like if you tan excessively. If you're going out in the sun, definitely use a high quality SPF of 30 or higher! The SPF in your foundation doesn’t count (haha). You invested a lot of time and money into your new brows, so invest in a good SPF to keep them beautiful, we do not want them turning darker or fading too soon."
Following the pre-care and aftercare listed on our website is of the utmost importance. The number one culprit for lighter retention is sweat. Saline solution is often used in the removal process for cosmetic tattooing and your sweat contains salt! Ditch the hot yoga and the sauna for the week that your brows are healing.
Let's explore some other reasons your newly tattooed brows may look a bit muted:
Sometimes the simplest solutions are often the most overlooked. When doing your makeup, your brows may suddenly appear lighter or "dusty". Is there foundation or powder on your eyebrows? Remember, your ink is healed into the skin, so any product on top of your skin will make your brows look more muted in color. We recommend taking a wet Q-Tip after your makeup routine to remove any product that may have accidentally dusted over your brows.
You can see a slight amount of powder near/over the healed cosmetic tattoo. After wiping that product away, the color appeared brighter and bolder.
Another reason your tattoo may look muted is because of a lack of gentle skin exfoliation and build up of dead skin on top of the tattoo. A non-chemical exfoliant can be the simplest fix to making your tattoo look fresh again. Remember, the pigment is settled into the skin, so your skin does have an influence on how your tattoo appears. We'd never tell anyone to ditch their skincare routine all together, but remember: any chemical exfoliant will speed up the exfoliation of your skin and make your brows feel like they're fading faster over time. If you're a retinol user you may need more frequent touch-ups. Maintaining a "makeup" type ombré brow may require more frequent touch-ups than, say, a natural nano brow. There is no one size fits all approach to cosmetic tattooing and that's why it's important to speak with your artist about your goals!
We've talked about exfoliation, but what about moisturizing? Extremely dry skin on top of your tattoo can make the tattoo appear more ashy looking. Whenever you're placing your moisturizer in your skincare routine, don't forget to give your brows some love too.
Here are some examples of fresh vs. healed eyebrows. Yes, they are supposed to fade! You can find more examples of healed results under an Atelier's artists "healed" highlight on their Instagram account.
I hope this blog was helpful for current and future clients, as well as follow artists.