Tattoo v Microblading

Updated: May 13, 2020

Permanent Cosmetics, Semi permanent Makeup, Cosmetic Tattooing, Microblading – what's the difference?

Permanent Cosmetics go by many different names (see below) this can confusing for clients but essentially they are all the same thing.

All of the methods implant molecules of coloured pigment into the upper reticular part of the dermal layer of the skin and cannot be washed off, which is in essence, a tattoo.

What about Permanent v Semi permanent?

Again, it's the same thing. Your beautiful expertly applied brows, liner, lips WILL fade, this varies from client to client with many factors influencing the speed of this process eg sun exposure, skin type, lifestyle factors etc (There are, however, things you can do to help it last as long as possible – I have a blog post about this coming VERY soon!)

No matter how much the colour fades it is impossible to guarantee that every molecule of pigment would ever leave the skin and as such the procedure is 'permanent' although it is easy to see why it is sometimes referred to as semi permanent with the requirement for 6/12/18 monthly colour refresh appointments being necessary to keep it looking fresh and new.

Machine v Microblading

What's the difference? I'm asked this so much, a lot of the time from clients who would like their brows tattooed but unaware that there is a difference between microblading and machine tattooing then show me photographs of a hairstroke brow which more often than not is done using the machine.

Machine method cosmetic tattooing involves the gentle implantation of pigment into the upper part of the dermis using a range of fine needles and a specialist machine, with a lower frequency than a regular tattoo machine, to create a huge range of styles of brow including fine hairstroke brows

Microblading uses a handtool with a group of needles held in the end and pigment is scratched into the skin in channels to create hairstrokes.

Contrary to much of the media hype at the moment surrounding microblading it is not a new technique. While the origins of microblading are rather unclear and somewhat disputed it has been around at least as long as machine method cosmetic tattooing and uses a hand tool similar to that of manual body tattooing which has been around for hundreds of years.

The decision as to whether you have your brow tattoo done using a machine or manual tool needs to be undertaken with your technician. This will be based on your skin type, skin age, colouring and desired outcome, among other factors including each individual technician's preference.

Names you might have heard of:

Permanent Cosmetics

Permanent Makeup (PMU)

Semi permanent Cosmetics

Semi permanent Makeup (SPMU)

Cosmetic Tattooing

Eyebrow tattoo, eyeliner tattoo, lip tattoo




Eyebrow embroidery

Digital microblading

Nano brows


I hope that this has helped to de-mystify some of the confusion surrounding the different names and methods used to apply Permanent Cosmetics - if you've got any questions or would like more info about my services drop me a message: or leave a comment below.

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