What is the Difference Between Permanent Makeup and Tattoos?

What is the Difference Between Permanent Makeup and Tattoos?


Most people may not be able to tell the difference between permanent makeup and tattoos, however, although the results are similar in both, there are many differences between the two. Below is an overview of the main differences and similarities between permanent makeup and tattoos.

What is the Difference Between Permanent Makeup and Tattoos?
Those of us who aren't particularly interested in the latest beauty trends might consider tattoos a permanent makeup look and discard them as too radical or too avant-garde. 

However, while the technique is similar in the sense that both results are achieved by inserting shades into the skin, there are many differences between the two. Below is an overview of the main differences and similarities between permanent makeup and tattoos.


Tattoo artists have been around for a long time. They are professional artists, and for most of them, tattooing is a full-time job and their only occupation. While tattoo artists themselves do not require any formal education, in most states a person must complete a certain number of hours of apprenticeship to become a registered professional.

Requirements to become a permanent makeup artist vary by country or state, but mostly boil down to completing a course at a beauty school or certified training center. Some programs require a cosmetology degree, while others do not.

Permanent makeup is an umbrella term for a range of different procedures, such as microblading, powder brows, permanent eyeliner, and even lip tint. Each is a separate subject and you need to take a separate course. 

After completing one of the courses that take a few days, you can basically start working right away. Of course, skills improve with experience, but even the most basic training can qualify you.


It's a common misconception that permanent and semi-permanent makeup are basically just face tattoos. In fact, these techniques are fundamentally different. Let's talk about anatomy first. The skin is divided into three layers: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. Permanent makeup is performed on the epidermis.

Tattoo ink is injected deep into the skin, and into the dermis, and pigments for permanent makeup are injected into the epidermis. Here's why: Tattoos hurt more, and tattoos last a lifetime (though they may need refreshing), while permanent makeup doesn't.

Microblade effects last up to two years, permanent eyeliner takes about a year to touch up, and lip blush lasts up to five years.


Tattoos also require different equipment than permanent makeup applications. Coil tattoo machines are the most common, while almost no one uses rotary machines for tattoos. Permanent makeup.

On the other hand, is almost entirely done with rotary machines because they use thinner needles and are more precise. The most commonly used tattoo needles are 0.30 or 0.40mm in diameter, while needles used for permanent makeup range from 0.18 to 0.28mm.

Tattoo inks & pigments

Getting permanent makeup doesn't exactly mean getting inked. When tattooing, ink is injected into the skin, while permanent makeup uses pigments. The pigment used is iron oxide, usually with some water and glycerin added. 

Tattoo inks consist of pigments, carriers, and various chemicals such as lead, chromium, nickel, and titanium dioxide… the list goes on and on. Tattoo inks come in a variety of colors, while permanent makeup uses black pigments, shades of brown, and shades of pink.

Allergic reactions to tattoo inks are much higher (but still rare) than to pigments due to the complexity and number of ingredients that tattoo inks contain. In both cases, it is recommended to choose an experienced artist and a tattoo parlor with good hygiene. Also, it doesn't hurt to ask about the composition of the tattoo ink used.

Healing process

PMU takes less time to heal because the procedure is less invasive and the pigment is not injected into the skin. In any case, it's important to keep track of possible reactions in the form of rashes, swelling, or redness (they should subside a few days after surgery). In both cases, you will also need to follow follow-up care procedures.

The above introduces the difference between permanent makeup and tattoos. As can be seen from the above, the machines and pigments for tattoos and permanent makeup are very important. If you plan to buy them, please contact us.

Charming Tattoo is a custom pmu and microblading ink manufacturer with 20 years of production experience. Our products are permanent makeup inks and micro leaf pigments for eyebrows, eyeliner, lips, scalp, areola, and skin camouflage. We offer different series for you to choose the color.