Dr Ellie Dyson Berkshire Permanent Makeup Eyebrow Banner

Differences between Permanent Makeup, Semi-Permanent Makeup, and Cosmetic Tattoo/Micropigmentation


Have you been thinking about having Permanent Makeup recently and browsed the internet for more information only to come across different terminologies?

Well, let me simplify this for you. Permanent Makeup, Semi-Permanent Makeup, and Cosmetic Tattoo are all the same thing and therefore use the same procedure i.e., implanting pigment into the skin, also known as micropigmentation.

So why the different terminologies? And where in the skin is the pigment implanted?

The diagram below shows a simplified 3D structure of the layers of human skin which consists of 3 layers; (a) Epidermis, (b) Dermis and (c) Hypodermis. The blue arrow shows that the pigment is implanted into the upper part of the dermis.

Layers of Human Skin and Permanent Makeup

Is Permanent Makeup, Permanent?

Technically speaking yes, however with time (2-3 years) the pigment does fade but doesn’t completely disappear which is why some specialists refer to this procedure as Semi-Permanent. This is important to understand because to maintain your flawless look following permanent makeup, periodic touch-ups are required every 1-3 years.

What causes Permanent Makeup to fade?

If you think about it, your skin grows just like your hair and nails. And we shed dead skin cells all the time due to external factors i.e. to daily exposure to UV light, cold, heat, pollution etc., and internal factors e.g. hormones. Therefore, pigments in the skin are also prone to change, most commonly fading.

Cultural Terminology

The use of the different phrases “Permanent Makeup”, “Semi-Permanent Makeup” and “Cosmetic tattoo” can depend on which part of the world you are in. For example, in the US, the term “Permanent Makeup” is generally used whilst in Australia, they refer to this procedure as Semi-Permanent Makeup only to prevent false advertising. In Europe, there is a tendency to use all three terms depending on the specialist’s preference.