What is the Difference Between Tattoo Removal and Permanent Makeup Removal?

If you have a tattoo or permanent make-up, you may be surprised to learn that a laser can remove either. In fact, the same type of laser (q-switched lasers) can tackle the job of removing tattoos or permanent makeup.

Even though permanent makeup and tattoos are similar, the removal process is often different.  Even though the same laser can be used to remove them, a critical understanding of these two different treatments is necessary if you are going to have successful and safe removal.

The first difference between tattoos and permanent makeup is the ink that is used. Tattoo ink is much higher quality and heartier than that used in permanent makeup. It might sound backwards, but think of it this way: a tattoo is meant to last your whole life; permanent makeup, on the other hand, can fade significantly through the years. Most permanent makeup artists will tell you that you can expect an average of five years before further work is needed. This is because the ink that’s used is inherently more fragile and a lower quality.  For this reason, permanent makeup is generally easier to remove with a laser.

Next, consider the tattooing process.  Many layers of ink are deposited into the skin to create a design, picture or word. Permanent makeup may involve a bit of layering, but nothing compared to a tattoo. How does this relate to laser removal? Well, the thicker the ink, the more laser passes (and treatments) it takes to break it up.  Again, permanent makeup usually fades faster and with fewer treatments than a tattoo.

The last major difference is the way the two behave during the laser removal treatment process. Because of the nature of the ink that’s used in permanent makeup, it can (and sometimes does) “oxidize” after laser treatment. This makes it turn different colors. Tattoos don’t do this.

This fact can change the number of laser treatments you will need to get rid of your permanent makeup. Usually, it will make the entire process longer. It may also cause you to hide the permanent makeup. Which can change new shades of orange, pale blue or dark grey. While penciling over eyebrows to hide the ink might be a pain in the short term, rest assured the ink will completely fade away with laser treatments no matter what color it turns!

In summary, it’s important that you don’t expect the process of tattoo removal to be the same for your permanent makeup and vice versa. While the differences between the two are subtle, it’s important for your overall success that you understand them fully.

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