Updated: Dec 9, 2021
I've been receiving inquiries lately about why permanent makeup, such as powder brows or microblading, is not completed in only one session. When you get a tattoo, it doesn't take two sessions of going over the exact same thing, right? Right!
Permanent makeup of any variety, is not a standard tattoo. Of course it is very similar in many ways. Pigment, or "ink" is placed into the skin using a hand tool or machine. They are both tender when freshly done, and both flake a bit as they heal. But that is where the similarities end.
When placing pigment in the skin for, let's just say eyebrows as an example, the pigment is placed into the very lowest layer of the epidermis. If it were to be placed deeper, it would heal a very blue/grey, unnatural color. It would look obvious that the color is inside the skin, rather than a natural, or powdered makeup, beautiful brow.
Standard tattoos are placed below the epidermis, into the dermis. The pigments used for standard tattoos are generally dark, or bright vivid colors therefore unaffected by the epidermis above it. They are also not meant to look like a natural part of the skin, so being placed more deeply is A-Okay.
Due to the fact that we are working in the epidermis, it takes more sessions to get the proper saturation and retention for a desired, finished result. And here's why: Cellular turnover takes place inside this layer. As new cells are regenerated, the older cells are pushed up toward the surface, and the outermost layer is sloughed away as the cells die. So after the first session, some of the pigment comes out in the outer layer, from the wound. The rest stays put right where we want it until the skin has time to heal for session two. During session two, we can adjust the look of the brows if needed (thicker, longer, more symmetrical, adjust the arch, darker pigment choice, etc.) and add pigment saturation. By doing this in two sessions, it gives skin the time to heal, and accept the pigment without looking fake, grey, and tattooed on.
The dermis on the other hand, does not go through cellular turnover and replace itself. So generally, body art tattoos can be done in one appointment, and it doesn't matter if they look unnatural since that's not the goal in the first place.
Something to consider:
After a year or so, depending on each individuals skin type, body chemistry, lifestyle, etc. the pigment from the permanent makeup, when placed at the proper depth, pushes toward the surface and slowly fades. This allows for adjustment as the face ages. An eyebrow for a 25 year old face is not necessarily going to compliment that same face in 30 years. So having to get occasional touch-ups is a good thing!