Permanent Makeup Techniques

By Krista Sheehan

Permanent makeup involves permanently implanting pigment into areas of the face to achieve the look of makeup. These procedures are often done to perfect the look of eyebrows, eyeliner, eyeshadow and lipstick. Three main permanent makeup techniques are used today: the manual method, coil machine and rotary machine.

Manual Method

The manual method, also known as the SofTap method, is the most commonly used technique for applying permanent makeup. This method does not involve an electrical machine. Instead, the technician applies the pigment by hand using a hand-held tool, which consists of a handle and needle. To apply permanent makeup using the manual method, the needle is placed on the surface of the skin and moved slightly up and down as the technician penetrates the skin with the pigment. Color can be applied in a variety of ways, including pointillism, lining and shading. The manual method is the most popular permanent makeup technique, as it is much more gentle than other techniques. This method does, however, require more frequent touch-ups than the other two mechanical methods.

Coil Method

The coil machine is also known as the reciprocating machine, and it uses the traditional electric tattooing machine used by body tattoo artists. The needle assembly is housed in a tube, which attaches to the machine. When turned on, the reciprocating motor causes the needle and tube to move up and down. The technician carefully guides the needle over the surface of the skin, allowing the needle to penetrate the skin and apply the pigment. Each thrust of the needle goes completely through the epidermis and reaches the dermis, where it deposits the color. Technicians use a variety of methods when applying permanent makeup with the coil machine, including pointillism, ovuvoid, lining and shading. With the coil machine, it is vital that all non-disposable pieces are sterilized in an autoclave before being used on another person.

Rotary Method

The rotary machine is also electrical, though it involves different tools from the coil machine. The rotary machine features a tool that resembles a ballpoint pen; the needle is stored within this tool. For this reason, this technique is sometimes referred to as the "pen machine." When the machine is turned on, the motor will cause the needle attachment to move up and down across the skin. Although the movement is quite similar to the coil machine, it is significantly less aggressive than the coil technique. With the rotary machine, you will experience a less forceful thrust of the needle and less thrusts per second. The technician will move the needle against the skin and apply color using either the pointillism, ovuvoid, lining or shading method. Again, it is vital that all non-disposable parts are sterilized in an autoclave before being used on another person.