Permanent Makeup Pigments and Tattoo Ink


A week ago, I had a client inquire about what to do regarding an eyeliner that has turned different shades of blue. Normally, black with a drop of blue correction would help that situation but when I proposed the solution, she said she had already tried it and it was still bright blue. Then she told me that the previous technician had used tattoo ink on the client.

Being in both the Permanent Makeup and Tattoo industry, we know not to use tattoo ink for permanent makeup procedures, yet very little information state the actual reason.  I’ve gone through many ink labels in my quest to find the difference between Tattoo Ink and Permanent Makeup Pigments, because we should get to the ingredient level of this.

In many courses, permanent makeup artists are taught that there are semi-permanent pigments and permanent pigments, which makes up the difference in tattoo and permanent makeup ink. I truly believed that. But I’ve yet to find a blog post or website that explains the actual differences in colorants (pigments). So I went on a little research expedition…


Permanent Makeup Pigment and Tattoo Ink Ingredients


Ingredients are what makes all the difference between tattoo ink and permanent makeup pigments. I remembered when I use to make cosmetics, I would research every particle and ingredient for compliance with Health Canada before making my lipstick or eyeshadow. In the cosmetic world, this is very important because FDA regulates particle size, pigments and carriers that can be use in cosmetic products. Since Permanent makeup pigments are under the same cosmetics banner, they also need to comply with the same regulations.  So I did a bit of a comparison.

Black pigment and ink comparisonBlack Colorants Comparison:

Tattoo Ink Black: CI 77226 (Pigment Black 7)

In my search on, this pigment is not listed for cosmetic use, which is fine, because this is a tattoo ink, not permanent makeup pigment.

Permanent Makeup Pigment: CI 77499 (Iron Oxide)

In my search on the same, this pigment is listed as iron oxide pigment along with other Iron Oxide CI numbers.  For more information, please see:



Brown inksBrown Colorants Comparison:

Tattoo and Permanent Makeup Ink Brown – Approved Cosmetic Pigments: CI 77491, 77492, 77891,
CI 77491, 77492 are both Iron Oxide pigments, same as CI 77499, and are also found in permanent makeup pigments. They are approved and commonly used for cosmetic products.
CI 77891 is Titanium dioxide, it is a natural mineral that is processed and purified for cosmetic products. For more information see:

As the above pigments are in both tattoo and permanent makeup, below is where the differences appear:

Tattoo ink Brown, may also contain the following pigments:
CI 21095, 12475, 11740, 21110 and others ( I pulled out about four or five different browns from various brands, so there may be other ingredients in other brown colors in tattoo inks). Searching any of these CI numbers on Cosmetic Info, nothing pulls up, just like the CI 77226, however, on a quick google search, CI 21110 pulled up quite a few results, as an orange dye. And again, that is fine, since it is not for permanent makeup.

What I am pointing out from the above colorant research is that there are differences between body tattoo ink and permanent makeup pigments. Next, we are going to look at the carriers used such as Glycerin, Alcohol, Water, and Oils.

**Below are some pictures to show what it looks like on the Cosmetics Info website when an ingredient is listed and when one is not.**


Going through the lot of tattoo inks and permanent makeup pigments, the carriers are mostly the same, such as:

  • Aqua, Distilled water
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Glycerin

The above carriers are all that are in our Doreme pigments.

However, there are items on the list that are different in various brands of tattoo inks:

  • EC2317912
  • EC2002895
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Preservatives (no other clarification)
  • Witch Hazel / Hamamelis Virginiana Extract. (This is approved for cosmetics as a natural preservative either in either soluble or insoluble form.)

All the ingredients do not comply with regulation for cosmetic products, other than Witch Hazel. Preservatives may be, but it really depends on which. Ingredients need to be labeled clearly on cosmetic products. This is the case because the skin on our face is more sensitive and more prone to reactions. So when a cosmetic product does not tell you what exactly you are putting on your face, that is cause for concern.


Cosmetics products, including Permanent Makeup Pigments’ ingredients are more regulated than tattoo ink and rightly so.  Unfortunately, this did not answer which ingredient produced the bright blue in the eyeliner, but it did give us a reason on why it is not recommended to use tattoo ink for permanent makeup.