Semi-permanent Pigments versus Permanent Inks

May 05, 2021

Semi-permanent Pigments versus Permanent Inks

May 05, 2021

Semi-permanent pigments versus permanent inks has been a long ongoing debate in our industry. Which treatment gives the better end result? Which one is safer? In this blog, our Head Medical Micropigmentation Trainer, Kelly highlights her professional experience and viewpoint on why she works with semi-permanent pigments rather than permanent inks. 

When scrolling on social media, I have seen a lot of posts severely criticising semi-permanent pigments. With over 15 years of experience in semi-permanent treatments, I explain why semi-permanent work is safe and a more flexible treatment in the future, especially for someone starting in the industry. 


MSDS and ResAP list 

Firstly, I would like to highlight, as long as you are using safe semi-permanent pigments or long lasting inks - it is up to your personal preference of what you prefer to use. I professionally prefer semi-permanent pigments as it is easy to obtain the Materials Data Sheet, also known as MSDS. Manufacturers have this list on each pigment that they produce showing exactly what ingredient and substances are inside their pigments. You can ask your manufacturer and they will provide the MSDS to you if you need them at all. In particular, when receiving it you should be making sure that your products are authorised for cosmetic products and that they should not be present in the CoE ResAP(2008)1. The CoE ResAP is put together by the European Commission where they have collected data about the ingredients deemed unsafe in semi-permanent make-up pigments.

Each country has different regulations and different versions of their CoE ResAP, so you must make sure that you are abiding by your country’s rules. Some pigments may be deemed safe in America for example but not in the UK, so you need to check. The reason this is so important is that for any reason you may run into some difficulty and your pigment has a substance on the ResAP list, your insurance would be invalid. So do your research and don’t rely solely on your trainer’s suggestion, for example if you do online training, your trainer could be anywhere in the world, so it is always best to check against your country’s guidelines. This way you can ensure that you are using the very best. 


Topping up

The other thing I prefer about semi-permanent is that I like my clients returning to my clinic. Semi-permanent pigments can fade over time in a light pink hue, however some permanent inks can too but tend to fade with a cooler blue hue which is difficult to get out from the skin. 


Areola tattoo done using permanent ink that is difficult to correct and remove

Permanent Areola Tattoo

Having your clients return is a positive thing as it allows you to adjust and top up. As we get older, our skin tone changes, in particular it gets cooler. So semi-permanent pigments allow technicians to add more or change the pigment tone that they previously and initially chose. Maybe you want to lift something or make something look lower, or the client could have had extra surgery. The coloured pigment will naturally lighten and start to gradually fade over time. The change in pigment and skin can vary from medication, diet, skin texture and lifestyle. It is harder to take out permanent ink than it is to build in a colour refresh appointment. Permanent ink can take away the ability to adjust and alter your treatment.  For a point of reference, please see below my own work with semi-permanent pigments and how they heal over the years.

Semi-permanent Areola over time


Be aware of the what, why and how you are using your products. Knowledge is key. As is a thorough and in-depth consultation explaining all the why’s and why nots so the patient makes their choice / informed consent. 

If you are new to the industry, I would highly recommend starting with semi-permanent pigments and then over time as you build in confidence and experience you could consider a safe permanent ink if you decide to. Although after 15 years in  the industry, I continue working with semi-permanent pigments due to its flexibility to adjust and top up my work. 


Overall, do your research and continue doing amazing treatments knowing you are using safe pigments or inks. 

If you’re interested in what semi-permanent pigments I use for my medical micropigmentation treatments in particular, I use Finishing Touches’ Medical Line pigments. 

Interested in finding out more about Semi-permanent Medical Micropigmentation? Check out our Medical Micropigmentation course


Want to watch the video version of this blog? Click play below!

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