Permanent Makeup Removal

Permanent Makeup Removal: The Ultimate Guide

Permanent makeup has definitely come a long way. This has especially been the case in the last couple of years, perhaps a decade, when many new cosmetic and beauty procedures became extremely popular and somewhat more affordable.

Nowadays, in the sea of people, and especially women, the chances of bumping into a woman who has undergone a cosmetic procedure are quite high. These might include eyebrow microblading, eyeliner tattooing, or even scalp micropigmentation, which has been popular for both men and women. However, what happens when a patients wants to remove the permanent makeup?

Take a look at this guide as we will follow to answer the following questions about permanent makeup removal.

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Is Permanent Makeup Really Permanent?

Even though the name suggests that permanent makeup lasts forever, the truth is somewhat different. Most of the procedures that patients opt for are not completely permanent (thus the name semi-permanent), meaning that patients should opt for a touch-up appointment after some time. This usually lasts from one to three years, depending on the actual artist that performs the work. Bear in mind that the pigment will always be injected in your skin, even though it will fade away during the time.

Can Permanent Makeup Be Removed?

Just like it’s the case with regular tattoos, removing permanent makeup is definitely possible, but it might require some time. It is a difficult skill to learn, so it’s always very important to do your homework beforehand and know who’s performing the procedure. Better safe than sorry, right?

However, there are a couple ways of permanent makeup removal – the topical, non-laser and laser solutions, as well as the salt-saline technique and dermabrasion.

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What are the Ways of Permanent Makeup Removal?

There are several different ways of permanent makeup removal, and each of them actually reduces, or “lightens” the pigment molecules from the skin. All methods can be considered under different circumstances.

Mostly applied permanent makeup removal techniques are:

  • Topical
  • Non-laser solutions
  • Salt-saline technique
  • Dermabrasion
  • Lasers

The first option is the topical way of permanent makeup removal. This is a very tricky option though, as it’s not very effective. Namely, there are not many lotions and creams that can be sold as effective “tattoo removal creams”.

A guinea pig model study once demonstrated that a reduction in tattoo pigment using imiquimod and tretinoin are possible but only if the application starts 6 hours after tattooing, which is not the best real-life scenario.

However, there is an alternative topical method that can help in assisting with the removal of the tattooing pigment, but only if the permanent makeup tattoo is under six months old.

Non-laser solutions

There are many variations of this treatment, and each one is performed by a trained permanent makeup artist. The actual removal is achieved by opening the skin, in a way that resembles the original procedure – using a tattoo or a permanent makeup machine. Thanks to a bonding agent that is applied to the open skin, the ink is drawn to the skin’s surface.

These bonding agents are most commonly made from salt, glycolic acid or other products that are available to the permanent makeup artists. One such session is equivalent to approximately two months of topical exfoliation.

However, the drawback of this treatment is that the rate of scarring is far higher than the one of the laser as it causes damage to the epidermis.

Salt-saline technique 

This is a common and effective approach to lightening tattoos and permanent makeup tattoos. This technique is also called “controlled scabbing” and it combines the science of osmosis with dry needling. The process resembles the process of initial tattooing, where a saline and salt solution is tattooed directly on top of any unwanted pigment or ink. This starts the process of the ink being drawn out from the skin.

This is a procedure that’s very popular with technicians who don’t have access to lasers.


Dermabrasion is a popular treatment whose main goal is to improve the appearance of the skin. This is basically an exfoliating technique that uses a rotating instrument and removes the out layers of the skin.


The most widely accepted treatment for removing pigment from the skin is the laser, just like it’s the case with regular tattoos.

Due to the fact that there is a higher risk concentration, treating a tattoo that’s less than six months old is not recommended. This is because the patient will require more laser sessions and the laser will react more violently (as it’s more attracted to the ink molecules).

What Should I Know Before Opting for a Laser Treatment?

One thing that should be considered when removing permanent makeup is if the pigment contains titanium dioxide. Many practitioners were previously told that a laser treatment for permanent makeup removal is impossible, and this is why.

Titanium dioxide is an element that comes in the form of white color, and is used in most pigments for those with a lighter skin type. It is also very often used in most lip pigments as it gives the tattoo a brighter base to sit on, thus making the color much stronger. However, when the laser hits this metal (titanium), a chemical reaction occurs that turns the titanium from white to its original state – dark grey color. Even though this does occur, there are further treatments that could help in removing the grey pigment.

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What are the Most Common Reasons People Opt for PMU Removal?

Even though more and more people opt for one of the many permanent makeup procedures, there certainly are people that are interested in the PMU removal. The most common reasons why people decide to have their permanent makeup removed are the following ones:

  • Permanent makeup looks very old-fashioned
  • Permanent makeup is of poor quality
  • The pigment or the shape are changing
  • The pigment started to evolve in unwanted ways
  • Social causes
  • The depth of the procedure is not even
  • The shape is not drawn before the procedure, imprecise shape (e.g. in microblading)
  • The corners of the eyebrows are either strict or very rounded (e.g. in microblading)
  • Patients want a different style of the procedure


How Long Does Permanent Makeup Removal Last?

The permanent makeup removal and the permanent makeup correction can sometimes require only one session, while at other times it can require more, depending on your skin type, the permanent makeup procedure and the area that’s being treated.

If the cosmetic tattoo covers a small area and is generally a single color, the patient might need only one procedure. The treatment lasts between 20 minutes to an hour, but it’s difficult to determine as the duration depends on more factors.The permanent makeup will fade after the treatment, and will continue to do so in the following couple of weeks.

However, sometimes a follow-up visit might be necessary, where the practitioner will assess the changes and recommend further treatments if needed.

How to Choose the Best Practitioner?

Bear in mind that, just like any other permanent makeup procedure, the right practitioner can either make or break your final look. Some of them have higher prices, but you need to know that higher prices are very often justified. You are not supposed to save money on procedures like these.

What you should also do is do a bit of a research on a certain practitioner – try to find as much photos of his or her work as possible and decide accordingly. Make sure they work in a sanitary conditions, and use high-quality products and pigments as well.


How Does Eyeliner Tattoo Removal Work?

Removing eyeliner has its own set of challenges, so it’s very important to know where you’re going to have your eyeliner removed and if the practitioner has actual experience. Only a handful of practitioners are competent for this procedure, mostly due to the fact that the skin around the periorbital area is extremely sensitive.

  • The cornea – transparent front part of the eye, must always be protected using the correct sized corneal protective shields that are inserted under the eyelid.
  • Furthermore, the laser must be used on the lowest possible setting, and the least amount of power output. This will, however, always vary from laser to laser.
  • The treatments should also be spaced by a minimum of eight weeks in order to allow the epidermis to completely heal and to make sure the lymphatic system has more time to dispose of the molecules.


How Does Eyebrow Tattoo Removal Work?

The specialist gently creates an opening in the skin, which is just enough for the removal solution to penetrate and do its magic. The solution is then applied, and it begins to pull the pigment out of the tattoo. This results in the portion of the pigment being able to be seen, touched and wiped off. The skin will eventually create scabs in the healing process, which will actually absorb more pigment and will therefore aid in the removal of the pigment in a week or so.

In order to opt for such a treatment, you will be required to have a consultation appointment first. Bear in mind that it may take you anywhere from 1 to 6 treatments to come to a satisfactory result, depending on the saturation and your skin type.


How Does Lip Tattoo Removal Work?

Just like it’s the case with the microblading removal or the eyeliner removal, the removal of the lip liner requires from the practitioner to create a small opening in the skin so that he or she could then apply the right solution. This solution will pull the pigment out of the tattoo.

The case with the lip liner is a bit different and tricky though, mostly because of the titanium dioxide. Namely, this powdered white metal is very often injected in the lip liner procedure as it gives the tattoo a brighter base to sit on, making the color stand out more. This is why it’s very possible that a patient might need several procedures, and that after the first one the color of their lip liner becomes darker than before.


How Does Scalp Micropigmentation Removal Work?

It’s not very easy to remove scalp micropigmentation, even though the most common way of doing this is by laser. The scalp micropigmentation treatment, if it’s correctly applied to the right depth and if it used the right pigment, can be almost completely removed after only one laser session. The second session is required in order to complete the process entirely, but this is a must for everyone who had a large area of the scalp micropigmented.

The whole process is not very long, it’s rather easy and is only a little uncomfortable. There are certain risks here though, especially for people who have darker skin. They could experience hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation (skin lightening or skin darkening).

Even though there are other things that can help in reducing the pigment of the scalp micropigmentation, the laser is the most effective one.


What’s the Aftercare Process for PMU Removal Treatment?

  • The patients are expected to keep the treated area dry for at least two days after the procedure.
  • The patients should apply a thin layer of a soothing cream that has been provided by the technician 48 hours after the procedure.
  • The cream should be applied at least 2 to 3 times a day (depending on the body part that you’re treating and the area that’s been treated). This should be done until the scab scales off and the shedding is complete (which is approximately 7 – 14 days).

Should I Avoid Any Things Post-Treatment?

The following list of things should always be avoided, regardless of the area treated:

  • Decorative or hygienic cosmetic should not be applied on the treated area for 10 – 14 days.
  • The scabs should never be pealed after the treatment. The patients should allow it to fall of naturally.
  • Sunlight should be avoided 2 weeks after the treatment.
  • Facial and body treatments should also be avoided for 3 -6 weeks after the treatment.
  • Exercise or body and face massaged should be avoided 7 days after the treatment.


How Long is the Recovery Time?

Most people return to their normal routine after their first treatment.

Even though some people might experience minor irritation and discomfort during the actual procedure, it will be quite possible for the patient to continue with the regular daily activities.

Are There Any Other Things I Should Have in Mind?

  • Every situation is different, and you will definitely need to have a consultation prior getting your permanent makeup tattoo removal.
  • Even though most of the pigment will fade after the first session, more treatments might be necessary in order to remove everything a patient is not satisfied with.
  • If the epidermis is the only thing that’s treated or affected, there are usually no scars or traces as the base layer cells of the epidermis are able to regenerate completely.


Are there any Risks of Permanent Makeup Removal?

  • The biggest risk of permanent makeup removal is the scarring. This is why it’s very important to remove the pigment safely using the fewest laser session possible, as you would want to limit trauma to the skin.
  • Another risk are allergies. Test patching is crucial before this procedure, but practitioners must bear in mind that this is not always 100% accurate, as an allergy might not always be detected.


How Much Does PMU Removal Cost?

It’s very difficult to determine the right cost of a PMU session, as it depends on many factors: the removal technique used, the area treated, how skillful and experienced professional is, etc. However, a single session can be found anywhere from $75 to hundreds of dollars.


There are number of reasons why people opt for permanent makeup removal. Some wish to reduce changing pigment or shape due to a poor treatment quality, some want to change the old-fashioned makeup look, while others simply wish a different style of the PMU procedure.

Whatever the reason is, it is highly advisable to consult with a trustworthy and experienced professional first. He or she will imply which removal method to choose, the one that is the most suitable and efficient for your particular situation and area treated.

Be patient and you will see the first results soon!

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