There are a few differences between Microblading and Permanent Makeup. After our short list, we will go into detail on each one.
Click this link to go to the Conclusion for a quick overview and comparison chart.
One of the fundamental differences between Microblading and Permanent Makeup is the type of equipment used for each procedure.
Microblading uses manual hand tools while Permanent Makeup (PMU) uses a mechanical or digital device.
Microblading Artists use manual tools that look like pens. In fact, many artists call the tools "Microblade Pens." There is no electrical component to these tools which means all movements must be generated by the hand of the artist.
Microblade tools range in all size, shape, color, and style. What is important to note is the "blade" itself.
Despite its name, a Microblade tool is not actually a blade. It is a tool that is comprised of different configurations of tiny needles.
Below is a gallery of Microblading hand tools. Click the photos for a larger view. These ones are Harmony Microblade by Tina Davies. They are sterile, high quality tools that many artists love worldwide.
Permanent Makeup Tools
Permanent Makeup Artists use mechanical or digital tools to create beautiful brows, eyeliner, and lips.
Permanent Makeup, also called Cosmetic Tattooing was originally taught with mechanical rotary tattoo machines. Some PMU Artists still use their rotary machines today, especially if they also do traditional body art.
These days, we and many other PMU Artists use digital devices as you can see in the gallery below. These devices can be powered by cable or battery and are very light weight.
PMU devices also come with various needle configurations like Microblading tools. However, the process is different which we will discuss in detail in the next section.
Here is a small gallery of PMU digital devices that we use ourselves to wonderful effect. Click the images to see the full photos.
Aside from the equipment being very different, the techniques of Microblading and Permanent Makeup are unique from one another.
There are certain elements that cross-over between the two procedures as listed below.
- Brow Shaping
- Color Theory
- Eyebrow Aftercare
Using the manual hand tool, the Microblading Artist drags the needles across the Epidermal layers of skin, like a blade, to make tiny incisions where pigment can be implanted.
Unfortunately, there is an obvious sound of the needles scraping the skin that bothers some people. But when you hear that sound, it means the Artist is probably working at the proper depth.
A lot of people are afraid of Microblading because they think it hurts. It can hurt, but if you have the right numbing products, the procedure is practically painless.
The Microblading tool will be coated in pigment, so as the cuts are made, the pigment soaks into the skin for a semi-permanent tattooed effect.
Permanent Makeup Techniques
Using an electric device, the Permanent Makeup Artist smoothly glides the pen across the brows where the needles move up and down, implanting pigment into the Dermal layers of the skin. Think of a sewing machine and how the needle quickly goes up and down to stitch thread.
You won't hear your skin scraping with PMU. However, the machine will usually be loud and will have a humming or buzzing noise. Some PMU Artists like to use music during their procedure to drown out the noise. We have found that many people don't mind it and find it calming.
Although many colors are the same for Microbladed brows and PMU or powder brows, the consistency of the pigments will be quite different.
This is important to understand because we, like many other suppliers, sell both Microblading and PMU Pigments. It is crucial to know the difference because it will determine the quality of your work.
Because Microblading is done with a manual hand tool, the pigments used will have a thick consistency. The reason is that the needles on the pen tool will usually be dipped into the color mixture and it needs to be thick enough to stay on while working.
If the consistency is too thin, it will quickly drip off the tool, make a mess, and not stay in the Epidermis properly.
This is why we specifically named our Microblading line of pigments Minx Mogul Microblading Color Cremes because they have a creamy, rich texture. You can see the photos online, but when you see them in person, you'll know how wonderful the consistency is.
Permanent Makeup Pigments
The Permanent Makeup Machine we use specifically has a catchment system in the disposable needle cartridge made for PMU ink. We dip the needle cartridge into the pigment cup and it soaks it into the storage system.
Because our devices work like this, our Permanent Makeup Pigments are much thinner than our Microblading Pigments. If the colors were too thick, they would clog the machine and not dispense properly into the Dermal layers of the skin.
These ones are supposed to have a more liquid texture. But you won't make a huge mess because the pigment is meant to be safely stored in the needle cartridge. This way it won't spill everywhere.
If you ever have doubts, please ask! You need to use the right pigment for the right procedure. The consistency is key and you CANNOT use one formulation for both types of procedures.
One big difference between Microbladed eyebrows and PMU eyebrows is how long they last for. We will discuss the durations in greater detail, but here is a quick summary.
On average, Microblading lasts 1-2 years and PMU lasts 5-10 years.
How Long Does Microblading Last?
The primary reason why Microblading lasts only 1-2 years is because of where the pigment is placed in the skin.
Microblading is done in the Epidermis, which is the upper layer of the skin. This layer will slough off as it has a cellular turnover time of about 30 days for most people.
So over time, as your skin sheds and replaces itself, the color will eventually fade; hence the term "semi-permanent". Think of bruising your finger nail. As your nail grows, the bruise will move up with it. That is essentially what happens with Microblading pigment.
But 1-2 years is not a bad thing. Many people prefer Microblading because it comes with a smaller time committment. It is great because if you don't like it, then it will naturally go away. If you do like it, then you can get touchups to keep the color fresh.
How Long Does Permanent Makeup Last?
Permanent Makeup will usually last 5-10 years because the pigment is placed into the Dermis. The Dermis is the lower, deeper layer of skin that won't be shed away as quickly as the Epidermis.
Any pigment placed into the Dermis, like traditional body tattoos, will be there for a long time.
It's nice because the color will be rich and natural looking much longer than Microblading, but again, this isn't for everyone.
If you change your hairstyle every few months, you might not be ready for a multi-year committment to cosmetically tattooing your eyebrows, eyeliner, or lips.
It will be there for quite a while, so ensure that you have a good artist who can give you Permanent Makeup that you will be happy to have for at least the next 5 years.
This is a touchy topic in the industry and you're about to learn why.
Spoiler Alert: not everyone is a candidate for Microblading.
This is important to know because Artists want business, so turning someone away because they aren't right for Microblading means losing money.
But if you weigh it out, keeping only the best candidates for each type of procedure will ensure that the artist won't have to do a lot of fixing in the future.
Who is a Candidate for Microblading?
Our ideal Microblading client is someone between the ages of 18-45. We want them to have healthy, firm skin.
This means the elderly, smokers, and people who have severely damaged skin might not be the best fit for Microblading.
The reason why goes back to the fundamentals of Microblading. Microblading is done in the Epidermis. This layer of skin sloughs off and changes drastically over time. If your skin is in poor shape or has lost a lot of collagen and elastin with the natural aging process, you will have a very difficult time retaining pigment.
Your Artist will feel bad, you'll have to come in more frequently for touchups, and it will cost everyone more time and money.
Who is a Candidate for Permanent Makeup?
Most people are candidates for Permanent Makeup done with a device. So if you fall into the category of a person who might not be good for Microblading, chances are you'll be fine for PMU.
Again, the reason comes down to where the pigment is placed. With Permanent Makeup, the pigment is placed into the Dermis, the deeper layer of skin. The skin here won't drastically change over time and won't be as affected as the Epidermis.
As a matter of fact, Kathryn, the Founder and CEO of Minx Mogul has been doing her mom's brows for 30 years. Kathryn's mom, Grandma Mogul looks fabulous because she has brows done with a digital device, with pigment implanted into the Dermis. Kathryn does her touchup every few years and the color has stayed true all that time.
*Photo below is not Grandma Mogul. This is a picture of a mature woman who would be a good candidate for PMU.
We hope this blog post helped you understand a bit more of the difference between Microblading and Permanent Makeup.
The topic can get confusing because both types are cosmetic tattooing procedures and there is a lot of overlap between them.
|Equipment||Manual Hand Tool||Digital or Mechanical Device|
|Technique||Implants Pigment into Epidermis||Implants Pigment into Dermis|
|Pigments||Use thick, creamy Pigment||Uses thin, liquidy Pigment|
|Duration||Lasts 1-2 years||Lasts 5-10 years|
|Candidates||Best for ages 18-45||Best for most people|