Why Do Eyebrow Tattoos Turn Blue Sometimes? The Science Behind PMU

By Emily M.| Last updated on March 1, 2023
Why Do Eyebrow Tattoos Turn Blue Sometimes
⏱️ 6 min read

Most freshly healed brow tattoos look good. You know the Instagram before and after pics – the definition is super sharp, the colors are rich and deep, and the client is over the moon. The perfect eyebrow in the perfect natural shade.

But what happens with those same exact brows months and years down the line? And what about all those clients whose pictures don’t make it to social media because the work doesn’t turn out that great?

Eyebrow tattoos changing color and cooling into a blue-grayish shade is unfortunately something we see relatively often. It’s one of the PMU beginners’ worst nightmares, and something they’re super anxious to avoid.

But how could one prevent this if they don’t know why it happens in the first place? We’ve done the research and we’re giving you an answer to the question of why do eyebrow tattoos turn blue you don’t have to be a dermatologist to understand.

Why Do Some Eyebrow Tattoos Look Blue During Healing?

After PMU, the brows go through a healing process as the injuries made to the skin are being patched up. Common phases of the healing process are extreme darkness of color, then light scabbing, flaking, and ghosting – the pigment looking really light.

The ghosting phase can sometimes be accompanied by a bluish tone emerging, usually on clients with light skin tones, and if darker pigments were used. This happens due to the skin recovery process, and should be temporary.

The skin recovers by forming a new layer of skin that will cover the pigment deposits. Healing skin is denser, as the regeneration processes make the cells closely compacted, so the layer is more opaque, so to say.

So there’s a stretch of temporarily thicker skin over the pigment deposits.

Newly formed skin is always lighter than its surroundings, as it has never been exposed to outside factors. And if the skin is light to begin with, like for Fitzpatrick 1-2 clients, the combination of skin thickness and light tone will create an optical illusion of slight blueness.

This is not really an issue, as this veil will change properties – the skin cells will settle and the skin color will darken slightly due to sunlight exposure.

So, once the healing process is over, the true color of the pigment will emerge, and it shouldn’t be bluish anymore.

If it is, then there’s an issue.

Why Do Some Eyebrow Tattoos Look Blue During Healing
Image source: Instagram @nina_lola_studio

Why Do Some Eyebrow Tattoos Heal Blue?

If the healing process is over and the pigment still looks bluish, it’s possible that the wrong color was used.

The blue effect we sometimes see on relatively fresh brow work may be a sign of using a cool pigment on a cool skin tone.

If a client has prominently blue undertones, a warm pigment should be used, so the coolness is neutralized. This gives brown as the final color, rather than ashy gray that can be perceived as bluish.

This can also happen if black is used, especially on skin with neutral to cool undertones. When a black pigment is deposited into the skin, it very quickly fades into a navy-bluish.

This is color theory: as pigments leave the skin through absorption and exfoliation, the saturation of black pigment is diminished, and less saturated black comes across as blue to the eye.

This is why pure black is not used for eyebrow tattooing anymore, although it used to be common in the past. Dark, deep browns are the way to go if you want the results to turn out almost black, but still natural.

Even for permanent eyeliner tattoos, some warmth should be added to the pigment to prevent bluish fading.

This cause of clue healing is usually successfully corrected at the 6-8 week touch up.

Or, the pigment was implemented too deep into the skin, but if this is the case, the brows probably won’t look blue immediately.

Why Do Eyebrow Tattoos Turn Blue After a While?

Finally, if a brow tattoo looks good for a while and eventually turns blue, looking patchy and unnatural, the pigments were either implemented too deep into the skin, or they’re low-quality to begin with.

Let’s explain each case.

Scenario #1: The Pigment Went Too Deep

For proper, natural-looking permanent makeup, the pigments should be implemented into the dermis, the second layer of the skin. At this depth, they show up true to color and heal into proper shades.

If they are implemented deeper into the skin, there’s a thicker layer of skin over the pigment deposits, which distorts their color.

So brown pigments that are deposited deeper than the dermis can appear bluish due to the Tyndall effect 1, a phenomenon that has to do with the way light scatters and our eye takes it in.

This is common for brows that were done years ago, with the traditional tattooing technique.

The same effect emerges if scar tissue forms over the results, due to excessive trauma to the skin or complications during healing.

Of course, other factors mentioned above also contribute, but this is arguably the biggest issue.

When the tattoo is relatively fresh, it’s not always possible to determine whether it was done too deep or not, but as the pigments lose saturation and the color moves away from prominently brown, the blue effect kicks in.

why do eyebrow tattoos turn blue
Correction by @microbladingeurostandart28

Scenario #2: The Pigment Is Low-Quality

Alternatively, the cause of the blue fading can be the pigment formula. Each brown pigment contains portions of warm and cool pigment particles, and those particles sometimes aren’t broken down and absorbed at the same pace.

If the warm component is extracted too quickly, that can leave a bluish color.

Of course, how the pigment interacts with the client’s system is also a factor here. But high-quality pigments should provide even, consistently attractive fading.

What to Do If an Eyebrow Tattoo Turns Blue?

Depending on how old the eyebrow tattoo is, how saturated the pigment is, and whether the issues are the pigments or the implementation technique, there are 2 solutions: color correction, or removal.

Let’s discuss which is better.

Solution #1: Color Correction

Color correction is a common way to refine the color of pigments once they’ve healed, but it only works in certain cases.

When pigments settle into the skin and their color looks off, more pigment can be added to neutralize and correct the tone. Using color theory, a specific corrector shade is determined and traced over the existing marks.

But here’s the thing: the corrector shade won’t sit on top of the old pigment, covering it. Instead, it’ll mix with the existing particles, and a new color will emerge.

While this can definitely work well on brows that need just a tiny bit of warmth or coolness, it’s not an ideal solution for correcting blue eyebrows.

First, it’s important to know that old pigment doesn’t sit in the skin in an even layer, so applying an even extra coat of corrector can cause unpredictable mixing and settling, making the situation worse.

But even if color correction gives a nice final color initially, the long-term fading of that mix will be unpredictable. In many cases, the results end up turning bluish yet again because the old particles can be really persistent, but with more unwanted residues packed in.

Learn more about PMU color correction here.

pmu brow color correction

Solution #2: Removal, Ideally Laser

Due to the potential issues with color correcting blue eyebrow tattoos, removal is a better solution according to many experts, and laser removal arguably works best.

Bluish tones are effectively targeted by most lasers, and it’s not hard to find a technician who has the equipment and skill to do it.

A laser will break down the particles of unwanted pigment, the immune system will carry them away and extract them. As a result, the blue eyebrow tattoo will lighten.

This happens gradually, over multiple sessions, as not all of the residue can be removed in one go. Additionally, it takes several weeks between laser sessions to allow the body to extract the particles destroyed.

So, yes, laser removal takes time, but it’s said to be faster than other methods – saline removal and acid removal. Plus, it carries less risk of excessive skin trauma, if done right.

One thing to note, though, is that older tattoos are more suitable for laser removal. This is due to the fact that older pigment is less saturated, as the concentration of particles in the skin naturally dwindles over time.

Lesser concentration means faster removal, so it’s best to wait at least 6 months to attempt laser removal. But blue eyebrow tattoos are usually older than that anyway.

Learn more about laser removal here.

laser removal of the tattoos turned blue
Image source: Instagram @eye_art_studio

Finally, Is There a Way to Prevent Eyebrow Tattoos from Turning Blue?

The prerequisites for eyebrow tattoos to keep their attractive color are proper technique and good pigments. If the implementation is too deep, the pigment low quality or poorly chosen, there’s not much the client or artist can do to prevent blue color shifts.

But if the original application was fine, the client should do everything they can to ensure proper healing, without any complications, and protect their results from UV exposure.

Complications during healing can affect pigment retention and cause color changes. UV rays can fade the pigment and, again, cause color changes.

Apart from that, it’s important to note that certain skincare ingredients can do the same.

Cover image source: Freepik



Exclusive insights into the PMU industry right in your inbox.

FREE newsletter. 100% good stuff.