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Permanent Makeup Pigment Retention. 

Is the pigment fading too fast? 

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ALL PIGMENT FADES! Fading is normal. Typically, a yearly touch up is needed on all procedures. Some clients fade sooner, and others can go years between touch ups. Selecting a darker color, more pigment packing and better after care helps! Makeup removers, skin care products and the sun all contribute to fading. Yes, permanent makeup fades but is it fading too fast? Have you experienced pigment failure?


Fine hair strokes and light powdery application of pigment does not implant a lot of pigment particles, so these looks fade the fastest. Hair strokes pretty much blend out and become almost nonexistent in a matter of months in many people. This is why a combination brow or a solid fill is best for clients who want a more fade resistant eyebrow.

Why does one client heal in a few days, have perfect pigment retention and go years before needing a touch up when another client takes weeks to heal, fades dramatically and need 6-12 month touch ups when using the exact same pigment, artist and equipment? Well, individuals are truly unique in body chemistry, genetics and lifestyle. Also, our skin is an organ. It is our largest organ that is influenced by a vast array of chemical and hormonal factors. Our skin many times is an indication of what is off balance in other parts of our body. It glows in health and dulls in illness. It is our first line of defense from invaders.




In some extreme cases, some clients have pigment retention issues or true pigment failure. Reasons for this failure or extreme fading vary from client to client. There may be a single contributing factor or many. Here are the most common:

  • Pre-existing tattoo or microblading that was done too deep and any tattoo removal especially laser will cause tissue damage. Microblading causes scar tissue and a lot of tissue damage which will cause future pigment rejection. This makes future applications of micropigment not hold as well as virgin skin. Microblading causes a great deal more tissue damage and scar tissue than any other cosmetic tattoo method. Usually a client has experienced substantial scabbing after an aggressive permanent cosmetic treatment which is an indication of tissue damage. The treatment area may have a sheen or shine to it. Waxy eyebrow pencil won't adhere to the area well and tends to slip off.

  • Low quality pigments will fade out faster than highly pigmented permanent makeup pigments. 

  • Inexperienced technicians may not implant pigments deep enough. Putting pigment in the outermost superficial epidermis layers will result in total pigment rejection. 

  • Hormonal imbalances and thyroid disorders tend to cause pigment break down. The immune system will attack and destroy pigment.

  • In situations where a client has a lot of health issues and is on a lot of medications, this will cause more fading of pigment due to slower than normal wound healing. Delayed healing may be due to failure of one or several steps in the healing process, caused by metabolic, cardiovascular, infectious, immunological or drug-related disorders. The principal drugs that can slow wound healing are cytotoxic antineoplastic and immunosuppressive agents, corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and anticoagulants.

  • Smokers and clients on oxygen or who have circulatory issues experience slower healing, especially of the skin. The skin being the largest human organ needs oxygen to regenerate. Depriving the skin of its ideal oxygen and circulation can contribute to pigment failure.

  • UVA, UVB and IR rays will cause fading very quickly. It is important to use a good SPF 50 with infrared protection every day even if you don't sun bathe.

  • Retin A, retinol, topical vitamin C, AHA'S, BHA'S, salicylic acids, chemical peels and any overly ascetic or alkaline skin care product will rapidly fade out permanent cosmetics. Products containing these ingredients should be avoided for at least 30 days after any application of cosmetic tattoo. Keep in mind that even after 30 days, they will still speed up pigment fading.

  • Not strictly following the after care instructions for the healing process will absolutely cause pigment failure .

  • Iron deficiency during an illness, anemia and pregnancy can cause the body to crave iron. The pigment is iron oxide and an iron starved body will gobble up the pigment leading to little or no visible pigment.

  • Heavy bleeders bleed out a lot of pigment during the application and fade out faster. Those who are heavy drinkers or on blood thinners are at a higher risk of being bleeders during a procedure.

  • For lip procedures, cold sores are a big culprit to poor pigment retention. Even if you are on an anti-viral medication and don't have a break out during the healing process , the past break out areas have tissue damage and are likely to reject pigment.

  • Being ill or having major medical problems in general leads to pigment failure. Those who do not consider themselves a healthy individual and have serious illnesses typically have multiple health issues. These issues along with various medications cause pigment retention issues. Even though many times they heal well, they may notice that they consistently fade out fast. An example of this are clients who got permanent makeup 20 years ago when they were much more healthy. It lasted for years. When they started to have health issues, no matter where they went, the pigment wouldn't last. One client in her late 20’s who was the ideal of health got very ill with a serious viral infection and was hospitalized. Her pigment was 1 year healed and still beautiful when she got ill. After a 12 day hospitalization and 3 months of being extremely sick, her pigment was almost non existent. When you have major or chronic illnesses, your body is working in overtime to deal with the illness.

  • Skin types effect pigment . Oily skin doesn't  hold pigment as well as normal to dry skin. Those who have oily skin and/or large pores should opt for combo, ombre or traditional solid fill brows because hair simulation will typically fade very quickly.


After Care

For the client who has issues with pigment retention, stepping up the after care is necessary. Additionally more touch ups may be required. Additional touch ups are not included in the initial application package and will be an additional charge.


  1. Follow the general guidelines and after care instructions you were initially provided.

  2. Increase ointment from 7 days to 14 days.

  3. For eyebrows , use plastic wrap at night for 7 nights instead of 3.

  4. For eyebrows, use the SPF with IR protection starting at day 15 and discontinue healing ointment.

  5. Do not use Retinoids, Retinol and Retin A any longer on the forehead if you have an eyebrow procedure. The use of these ingredients will fade you out even after you are healed.

  6. Make sure to keep the ointment on very thick. Do not rub it in like lotion. It should be visibly thick.

  7. Avoid chemical peels, laser resurfacing, facials and microdermabrasion treatments for 90 days.


Some clients just can not avoid fading due to multiple factors. This is something that can't be resolved. The client will require more touch ups and will have to accept this fact. The convenience of cosmetic tattoo AKA permanent makeup is still available to these clients. They have to do more maintenance and adhere to a more involved approach to after care to achieve their desired results.

No one permanent makeup technician can guarantee a set timeline of fading. We can give rough estimates based on the average client. We can not dictate pigment retention, healing and pigment fading factors that are beyond our control.


About Theresa

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