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Permanent Makeup Color Theory (Updated 2021)

Updated: Jan 12

Make-up is based on colors. It is the arrangement of complementary and contrasting colors that makes a look pop or subdued. It determines what the effect will be of the makeup on one's face.


Fully understanding the permanent makeup color theory will make it easier to color correct the client’s old brows. The best way to understand it is by looking at the color wheel.


What is the Color Wheel?


To give a little background on the color wheel, in 1666, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the full spectrum of colors through a prism experiment. This experiment leads to the creation of the color wheel. Newton's wheel is comprised of 12 main colors. These 12 colors are separated into three categories: primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors.



The primary colors are: red, blue, and yellow



The secondary colors are: red, blue, and yellow


Secondary colors are a result of mixing primary colors.


For example, by mixing the primary colors of red and blue, you will get purple. If you mix blue and yellow together, the color green will form. Mixing red and yellow will result in orange. This is how secondary colors form.



The tertiary colors are yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue green, and yellow-green.


Tertiary colors are achieved by mixing a secondary color and the primary color next to it.




Let’s also take a look at complementary colors or opposite color pairs. Understanding color theory can be very beneficial in semi-permanent makeup, especially when it comes to color correction. It’s very interesting that when complementary colors are mixed, they cancel each other out and produce a brown color.

How to correct blue brows?


If the clients’ previous brows have a blue tint on them, this is usually due to going too deep or the other colors have faded. In this case, you must first correct the brows by adding a yellow pigment to the blue-tinted area to first neutralize the color before proceeding to add a brown pigment.


How to correct green brows?


If the clients’ previous brows have a green tint on them, this is usually due to other colors that faded too quickly. This is a less common situation and in this case, you must first correct the brows by adding a red pigment to the green-tinted area to first neutralize the color before proceeding to add a brown pigment.

How to correct red brows?


If the clients’ previous brows have a red tint on them, this is usually due to other colors that faded faster. This is very common especially due to poor color choices or old brows. In this case, you must first correct the brows by adding a green pigment to the red-tinted area to first neutralize the color before proceeding to add a brown pigment.


How to correct gray brows?


If the clients’ previous brows have a gray tint on them, this is usually due to colors healing too cool or needles going too deep. This is very common especially when it comes to old brows or inexperienced technicians.


In this case, you want to warm up the gray color by adding some warm color to it first. Depending on how gray the brows are, you can choose to correct the brows with a warm orange pigment or just cover the brows with a warmer brown pigment.



How to Apply Color Theory to Permanent Eyeliner


The color theory is also highly applicable when it comes to eyeliner. You might ask, isn’t eyeliner just putting in black color? What is the science behind that?


Going back to our color wheel, the color black is not a primary color. It’s a color that resulted from mixing red, blue, and yellow. You might have seen a lot of women with old eyeliner tattoo that turned blue or gray. This is common because the black pigment is made up of blue, red, and yellow. Often, more blue is added into the mix to produce a darker and rich hue of black.


Over time, the red and yellow components of the black will fade and what remains is the large percentage of blue pigment in the eyeliner. You can also correct the blue hue in the eyeliner by adding warmer brown color instead of covering it with black pigment again.



Preventing Color Fading


To prevent the eyeliner from shifting into a blue tone, artists like to modify their black pigment by adding drops of orange and red color in the mix. Adding a small amount of red pigment will not change the black color much. Our eyelid areas tend to be cooler in tone, that is why it’s always good to add a drop of orange or red pigment into the mix when doing black eyeliners, just to reduce the color from turning blue.



How to Apply Color Theory to Permanent Lip Blushing


Last by not least, color theory also comes in handy for lip blush procedures.


For clients who have a darker and purple hue on their lips, it is a must to first neutralize the color instead of going right into the procedure of putting in a red or a pink pigment. This may even prompt the lips to turn darker. So to cancel the purple hue, apply an orange pigment first.





This may sound and look daunting, as the lips will appear to be orange right after the procedure. However, when the lips healed, the orange and purple will result in a more soft pink color.


However, there is a limit on how much you can correct.


For clients with very dark lips, it’s not recommended for them to have a lip blush procedure since there is a high risk of hyperpigmentation which can result in permanent dark purple lips. For clients with naturally pale lips, this procedure is a green light and they can choose a pink color and proceed with the procedure.



Permanent makeup may seem like an easy job, but it's quite a science! The colors used in each procedure are very important, especially when we think about not just right after the procedure, but also the years that come after.


If you have previous microbladed brows, eyeliner, or lip blush that you don't quite like the color of, call us to schedule for a free consultation on how we can color correct it. Call us to get the best microblading in Vacaville, best microblading in Davis, best microblading in San Francisco, best microblading in Sacramento, and the best microblading in Bay Area.




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