50 Shades of Grey

50 Shades of GreyWHILE I’M SURE of the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, the movie, Cosmetic Brow Tattooing fading to grey doesn’t hold the same appeal or excitement. However, I would like to outline the potential causes and possible correction methods when faced with the issue of brows that heal grey, turn grey, too dark grey, or just look too ash.


When permanent tattooing pigments were first manufactured they contained iron oxide colours of yellow, red and blue/black and Titanium Dioxide was used to lighten and help retain the pigments in the skin. This blend created a variety of different brown shades to perfectly suit any brow colour we wanted to create as a Permanent Make-up Artist.

The good thing with this mixture is that it was easy to implant. However there were issues with magnetised pigment or pigments that contained heavy metals and the most stable colour was red. We still see the results of this today. Many clients come and visit us with previous tattoo in various shades of salmon coloured brows.

Next comes the age of Organic pigments. Now don’t be deceived, these are not natural pigments. They are synthetic organic pigments made in a laboratory and are classed as organic purely because they have a carbon chain. For those of you that remember your chemistry classes and have had the fun putting together the balls and links to make a carbon chain compound this is easy to relate to. For those that never had the privilege, or have never take a chemistry class, a carbon chain, purely means it a chain of carbon atoms that make an organic molecule.

The problem with organic pigments made again of yellow, red and blue/ black pigment colour blends, is that organic red fades off extremely fast as it is very unstable. It is also much more difficult to implant. To resolve this problem permanent makeup manufacturing companies continued to add Titanium Dioxide to their pigment mix. Herein lies a whole other can of worms that we’ll unpack later. So with red fading off and being the most unstable, brows healed and faded very quickly to grey. Leaving blue/black and yellow as the only remaining colours which show up as grey/blue through the skin.

Keeping all these facts in mind, our conclusions leads us to the best pigment mixture. This would be a mixture where organic black/blue, concentrated yellow and red iron Oxide is used. This ensures there are no issues with heavy metals or pigments being magnetised but containing stable red pigment to support the brows to remain brown.

Then we come to another shade
of grey that is an unpleasant healed result. The blue brow. With fashion being what it is, a bold dark brow and our desire to achieve expected results for our clients, we can sometimes get deceived by the ability of pigments to show true colour through the skin.

The most important rule of thumb to stick to is always only match the client’s eyebrow hair taking into consideration the colour of the epidermis. Too dark and the brow will turn dark grey/blue. Always err on the side of caution you can make the brows darker during the second Perfection visit but you can’t make them lighter.

Lastly, I would like to open the can of worms when implanting Titanium Dioxide into the skin. Now that we have seen healed results and have implanted more colours to refresh or colour correct our client’s brows for many years we are now seeing some real problems.

Over time colours of pigments
fade. This happens through many ways including UV radiation, and
our own skin and body’s immune system’s ability to eliminate foreign bodies. Titanium Dioxide however
is not seen as a foreign body and remains in the skin creating a chalk like substance in the dermis.

This remnant of old pigment is extremely difficult to microblade or implant colour through and eventually creates a saturation of granulised substance in the skin, where no more colour can be implanted. The only way forward from this point is a removal system using a variety of acids and salt. Laser removal will not work on cosmetic tattooing with red oxide and Titanium Dioxide as it darkens the pigments permanently.

Science is improving in our pigments, the method of implantation to create the desired brow and, where necessary, removal options.

We hope this article has helped you understand the 50 Shades of Grey in the Cosmetic Tattooing industry. We are opening the official Phi Academy of New Zealand where we will continue to hold our training education in Microblading, Manual Shading, Bold Brow technique
as well as host many international trainers to provide training in Phi Ion, Microneedling, PhiContour Permanent make-up and Phi removal. Keep an eye out for all our latest course information or even let us know what you would like to learn more about. We are here to help and support your career as Cosmetic Tattooing artists in New Zealand.