The Beauty of Black, The Hazards of White

Edited by Admin


         We do not live in a black and white world, and neither does our permanent makeup. Just like many situations fall on a grey line, so does the possibility of a permanent makeup procedure (literally, I mean like a Sterling Grey eyeliner line). Without the proper knowledge of colour theory, mixing, or pigment proportions, it is difficult to control what colour you want to see through the skin. It’s safe to say that permanent makeup for the most part, for most of us, and for most clients, is a happy experience… most of the time. It is the kind of experience that gives us an outcome that we all are so proud to include in our menu of services, like offering someone a room full of our art. However, like any masterpiece in the making, there are always cases of concerns. Concerns that we have inflicted within our own creative process, or concerns delivered to us by someone else, except on a fleshy breathing surface standing at our front desks, looking to you as the knight in shining armour to paint over the original strokes. Unfortunately in this industry, there will always be a demand for somebody to repair damages and fix the “concerns”.


         Pigment in the skin is undoubtedly a form of art, and like any good art form, it presents its challenges, particularly when doing certain procedures that simply do not work with implanting pigment in the skin. Applying a certain look with conventional makeup on top of the skin presents colour much differently than colour seen through the skin. Skin is the most complex canvas to work with, as no individual is the same, and unlike most artists, you cannot predict your strokes will appear the same on every piece you do. There are clients who will request a procedure that may run a risk of healing and presenting long-term unfavourable results, and they need you as the professional, to educate them and clearly review any potential concerns. Present the concerns before you make them. In order to do this, you must also ask yourself, “Have I been trained adequately to perform this procedure?” You want to respond to yourself very confidently when answering that one, and before turning your machine on.


         As a manufacturer of pigments, a technician, educator, developer and research hound for the last 28 years, I have come to terms with the “do’s” and “don’ts” of implanting pigment in the skin. There is no doubt that it has been my career’s mission to understand all aspects of this business and industry. I thought my experience in the industry would be a good position to share and enlighten you on the overuse and abuse of white pigment, known as titanium dioxide.




         Titanium dioxide, when used as a pigment, is called titanium white, Pigment White 6 (PW6), or CI 77891. Generally it is sourced from ilmeniterutile and anatase. It has a wide range of applications, from paint, to sunscreen, to food colouring, to tattoo pigments. Titanium Dioxide is a naturally occurring mineral used as a colouring agent, whitener, thickening agent, and sunscreen ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products. Its high refractive index makes it a popular ingredient in whitening formulas because it provides a bright reflection. It is also considered an effective opacifier, often found in mineral make up formulas, as well as whitening and under eye creams. Titanium Dioxide has high UV light absorbing capabilities, and it is often used as an active ingredient in sunscreens. White is a heavy weight as a base powder.  You will notice that most of your lighter pigments formulations separate in the bottle including lighter skin toned camouflage, eyebrows or lip formulations.


      This is one of the reasons why using titanium dioxide/white to camouflage scars, dark under eye circles and stretch marks is not recommended. When treating these areas of the body with skin tone pigment containing white, colour matching may appear excellent initially. The pigment, however, will transform after an extended period of time. As the skin ages and changes in colour and texture, so does the pigment and often times the scar tissue is more obvious as a result. The weight of titanium dioxide in the pigment appears like granulomas sitting under the skin and creates a horrific, unsightly appearance.

Other colorants such as yellow brown oxides and organic reds that are formulated with white fade in comparison to the brilliance and opaqueness of the white colorant.

On the other hand, a certain percentage of white is essential in specific color formulations to achieve certain necessary pigment formulas. Proper technique along with expert understanding of how white / titanium dioxide behaves in the skin does result in appropriate long-term results.

 [Excerpt added August 1, 2018]






    The tail of one eyebrow is directing north and the other eyebrow tail is sloping south.  Tattooing a skin toned beige or camouflaging over a mistake only magnifies the problem.  Every week at our training academy, women are scheduling appointments to correct the eyebrow, eager to get rid of the camouflaged tattoo that a previous technician had done as an effort to cover up an ill placed tattooed eyebrow.  When a technician calls us for “a” pigment that will beige out a mistake, I am frustrated with the lack of knowledge they are essentially requesting. First off, are any of us teaching or have we been taught to beige out and camouflage an ill placed eyebrow?  I hardly think so! To beige out, cover up, or camouflage a mistake simply does not work.


    Implanting a skin tone colour over a dark tattoo is best compared to painting white over a black wall of paint. The result would be a grey shadow of colour. Or think of it as putting on a very opaque pair of white pantyhose over a black pair of socks. You will always see the grey cast of colour coming through the lighter colour, depending on the saturation and opacity of the layer of white. Although the pigment may have matched at the initial moment of tattooing, white is not stable in the skin due to the possibility of the coloured pigment molecules separating from it.  Not to mention that the consideration of skin colour changes due to aging and sun exposure.



      Colour correction combined with laser or liquid removals would result a much more successful, favourable result.

         When manufacturing a cosmetic pigment line and including a series of “camouflage pigments”, not for a minute did it cross my mind to formulate a series of pigments that could cover up a mistake, or beige out an eyebrow too big or uneven, or to make a skin tone to mask a colour too dark, or that is the wrong colour completely. Camouflage pigments have been designed to tattoo into virgin skin - an area of skin that does not have a previous ill shaped tattoo. Numerous formulations have been mixed and tested to ensure a good selection of pigments to simulate the natural variables of skin tones. Camouflage pigments are made to diminish the appearance of scar tissue and re-pigment the areola nipple complex.





         I have heard it said that white eyeliner is the new black. In my opinion, white eyeliner has a place for a certain look at certain times, but it will never replace the look of the ever classic black eyeliner that lines the eyelashes, or the natural look that permanent makeup should achieve. 


         The look of white eyeliner is a great look for the moment at the moment, however tattooing a white base formulation permanently is an entirely different (and risky) game to play, and has essentially turned into a horror story for most who have sought after someone to do the procedure.


         Implanting the lash line with a row of titanium dioxide pigment will eventually result into an unpleasant line of white granules that will float to the surface of the skin.  The thinning and aging tissue of the upper eyelid will heal into something that the client may not permanently want.  It is important to review and consult with your client about the possible long-term outcome of certain procedures that may not be a favorable look at some point.  




         One of the newest looks in our industry is the 3D lip look. First of all, lips are naturally 3-dimensional, so it is difficult to understand the concept of recreating a 3D look on lips when that is already how they exist. WHY?


         I watched a video of a technician who had completed the outlining of the lip line, then applied a layer of white pigment with a Q-tip. She then proceeded to tattoo the red pigment over top it, shading the lip with the red color, and then finished tattooing with white over the pout of the lip. The purpose of this was to create a 3D look.  The possibility of depositing way too much white and creating the pepto bismol look would be a big concern here. I wish, and challenge you to consider the same, that some of these online “before and after” videos would show us 4 to 12 month post photos.


Understanding that reds and oranges are sheer colors and have little density of color once healed into the mucosal tissue of the lips, one can formulate red lip choices with a certain percentage of white as a great support for the color retention It is the ratio of white to the reds, oranges, and yellows that make manufacturers the experts in their formulations. For instance, lipliner generally holds much better color retention because of the edging of the lip line and skin, known as the vermillion border. This brings us to our next category of clients.




         Here is the client who asks for larger lips through tattooing.  It is our responsibility to explain to the client that simulating mucosal tissue on the skin is extremely difficult and can appear as a “koolaid mouth.”

         If you have a client who wants larger lips, educating her on other options such as fillers and injectables would give her a more natural look than challenging the lip boundaries with tattoo pigment. 




         One of the trademarks of timeless sex appeal is a beauty spot also known as the beauty mark. A true vintage bombshell look doesn’t seem complete without it. A black or brown mark placed on the cheek, above the lips, or near the eye exaggerates femininity and draws attention to one’s favourite features. However ladies, this wasn’t always the case!

         In Greek mythology, the gods were said to be jealous of those who looked too perfect and therefore created a small dark mark on their faces, just to mar their perfection. They believed this is what the natural placement of the beauty marks meant. Beauty marks haven't always been beautiful; in fact, for a significant part of human history, they've been considered hideous, bad luck, or even a sign of poor money management. Usually, beauty marks or moles are present around the lips or on the cheeks. However, too many marks do not look beautiful. The marks appear on the face before 20 years. If someone gets one after, usually they are protruding out and it is considered a mole.

Some celebrities are famous for their beauty marks; Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Mandy Moore are a few of them. Some have beauty marks and want to remove them while others achieve them artificially - it’s all about choices and fashion.

A lot of people have them naturally, but many are making them synthetically and permanently.   Permanently is not always the route to take to create a dot on the face.  When this tattooed “black dot” heals and is now showing as grey/blue through the skin, it now appears as a dirty spot and let me tell you, it is hardly anything attractive.  One thing you always hear as common client requests is, “I want it to look natural.”





         They request natural hairstroke eyebrows, natural looking fuller lips, thinner natural looking eyeliner, a natural beauty mark above her lip... Once that black mark is tattooed on her face, it looks like a tattoo anyway, so considering that this would remotely look “natural”, is certainly in question and beyond me. 

Knowing when to say no and keeping the capacity of the art of our procedure into perspective is essential.

Micro-Pigmentation Centre Inc.
5155 Spectrum Way, Unit 24,
Mississauga, ON, L4W 5A1

t.  (905) 625-5155

Toll Free: (888) 737-6268
For information please visit our website!

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