There are a gazillion reasons why brows fade and change color over time. Before we dive into the basic reasons, let’s get a little nerdy!
The pigments that are the most popular in the permanent makeup industry typically consist of black, yellow, red and blue, in various combinations to create custom colors (though blue really isn’t in the mix for brows). Carbon-based pigments age cool (grayer/ashier) because of the light-fastness and dark value of the carbon black that’s in the mix. One drop of carbon black packs a LOT more visual intensity to a drop of yellow or a drop of red. This means when there’s a 20% fade, 20% less of the black is dark gray, whereas the red and yellow…they’re basically gone, baby! That’s why brows look ashy after a while. It’s science!
The term “semi-permanent” gets thrown around a lot and it’s confusing. It’s not true! the ink implanted in the skin is probably not gonna disappear. However, in order to keep the color in a cosmetic range, refreshers are needed to add the red/yellow/orange back in! When my clients return for a brow refresher, The brows look really warm (orange-red) after but heal beautifully once they mix with the cooler (grayer) color underneath!
I’ve noticed over the years that many artists don’t know how to properly refresh brows. Brown (which would have a high concentration of black) should only be 5-15% of the mix at most, depending on the level of color correction needed. Any more than that and the brows will not only be back to ashy, but they’ll be even darker!
So, this is the science of pigment and how it breaks down, but WHY does the pigment break down? There are many reasons! For one, our faces have a significantly higher rate of cellular turnover than anywhere else on the body, so the skin on the face exfoliates a lot more. Sun exposure is also a huge reason for fading, as are the use of retinols, exfoliants, a client’s skin type and their body chemistry! How quickly a client fades will vary greatly based on these variables.
I tell clients to book a refresher when the pigment has faded around 50%. The less times we compromise the skin, the better, to reduce the risk of scarring long-term. The shape will still be there and easy to fill in, but in order to shift the color with tattooing, the dark value needs to be half as dark as the target color. Because of all the variables with fading, some folks are back for a refresher within 12 months and some don’t need them for 3+ years. Those with thicker, more porous/thicker skin tend to fade faster (and never hold color as dark) as those with dry skin, so if you have oilier skin, expect to have to come in more!
If you are looking at your brows and realize they are lighter and/or the rich color is gone, you can book a refresher here.
If you aren’t sure if they’ve faded enough, feel free to send me pictures at email@example.com.
Pricing for refreshers is $250 for 3-12 months, $350 for 12-24 months and $450 for 24+ months.