Mixing PMU Inks for Custom Shades

Apr 01 , 2024

Mixing PMU Inks for Custom Shades

The art of permanent makeup has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, with people turning to the procedure to enhance their natural features. However, what many may not realize is that the creation of custom PMU ink shades is a mix of science and artistry, requiring a nuanced understanding of color theory, precision in execution, and an innate sense of creativity. In this article, we discuss the intricate process of crafting unique and personalized PMU ink shades that not only match a client's natural skin tone but also complement their individual style and preferences.


The Why and How of Color: Understanding Color Theory


Colors play a crucial role in our lives, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, the spaces we inhabit, and even the emotions we feel. Understanding color theory is essential for anyone working with or interested in color, including artists, designers, marketers, and beauty professionals.


What Makes Color Work for You?


The color wheel is a vital tool in understanding color theory. It is a circle of colors arranged in a specific order, starting with primary colors like red, blue, and yellow and progressing to secondary and tertiary colors like purple, orange, and green.

The color wheel is designed to help us understand color harmony and contrast. It shows us how complementary colors can enhance each other, how analogous colors can create subtle, natural looks, and how triadic colors can create dynamic, vibrant schemes.

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Color harmony is the art of combining colors in a pleasing and balanced way. Complementary colors are colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel, such as red and green or blue and orange. Using complementary colors together can create a bold and striking effect, while using analogous colors (colors next to each other on the color wheel) can create a more subdued and harmonious effect.


Color contrast, on the other hand, is the art of using colors in a way that makes them stand out and pop. High contrast is achieved by combining colors that are very different from each other, such as black and white or red and green. Low contrast is achieved by combining colors that are similar in hue and saturation, such as light blue and dark blue.

When it comes to cosmetics and beauty products, color theory plays a crucial role in custom ink mixing. For example, when a PMU artist aims to create a natural-looking eyebrow tint, they might start with a base brown. By understanding color theory, the artist can add a hint of green to neutralize red undertones in the skin, ensuring the final shade perfectly matches the client’s skin tone and hair color.


Choosing Your Canvas Wisely: Selecting BASE Inks

In PMU, choosing the right base ink is critical to achieving the desired outcome and creating a long-lasting effect. Here are some factors to consider when selecting base inks:


  1. Undertones: It's essential to evaluate the pigment undertones of the base inks and how well they complement the client's skin tone. Undertones can range from warm to cool, and selecting the right undertone can make all the difference in achieving a natural and flattering look.


  1. Desired Outcome: The desired outcome of the PMU treatment is also an important factor to consider when selecting base inks. If the goal is to enhance natural beauty, selecting a base ink that matches the client's natural skin tone can create a subtle and seamless effect. However, if the aim is to make a bold statement, using a base ink that contrasts with the client's skin tone can create a dramatic and eye-catching effect.


  1. Skin Sensitivity: Some clients may have sensitive skin, and it's crucial to choose base inks that are gentle on the skin and do not cause any adverse reactions.


    Mixing Magic: Techniques and Tips

    Mixing inks is more than just a science, it requires knowledge, skill, and a bit of intuition. Just like cooking a gourmet meal, the process of creating the perfect shade requires a clear understanding of the desired outcome, followed by careful mixing and testing. The transformation of basic ink colors into a custom palette requires both technique and creativity. 

    The art of mixing inks is most commonly used in the beauty industry, particularly in the creation of custom lipstick shades. For example, achieving the perfect lip color might start with a base shade of pink. By slowly adding tiny amounts of red or white, the artist can adjust the saturation and brightness, crafting a color that enhances the client’s natural lip color beautifully.

    This process requires a keen eye for color and a comprehensive understanding of color theory. Artists must first determine the base color they want to use and then incrementally introduce other tones to fine-tune the hue. It takes an understanding of the importance of consistency and saturation, mastering the balance between vividness and subtlety.


    Image Source : MOSAIC Lille

    Here are some tips and techniques that artists can use :


    1. Color Theory:


      • Importance: Understanding color theory is fundamental for PMU artists going beyond just how to mix colors but also about perceiving their impact on the outcome.
      • Application:
        • Complementary Colors: LEARN about complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel) and how they interact. For instance, red and green are complementary.
        • Analogous Colors: Explore analogous colors (those adjacent on the wheel) for harmonious blends.
        • Warm vs. Cool: Understand warm (red, orange, yellow) and cool (blue, green, purple) tones and their effects on skin undertones.
        • Custom Palette: Create a customized color palette that enhances each client’s unique features.


     2. Gradation:


      • Definition: Gradation involves a gradual transition between colors or values. It’s like a gentle blending from one hue to another.
      • Popular Applications:
        • Eyebrows: Use gradation to mimic natural hair growth. Start with a lighter shade at the inner brow and gradually darken toward the tail.
        • Lips: Blend lip liner and lip color seamlessly for a soft, natural look.
        • Eyeliner: Gradate eyeliner color from thinner to thicker lines for depth.
        • Layering: Layer different shades of ink to achieve subtle gradations. For example, layering a warm brown over a cooler brown can create a natural effect.


    3. Blending:


      • Techniques:
        • The Stitch: Apply patches of two colors and blend them using criss-crossing strokes. Be cautious not to over-blend, as it can dull the vitality.
        • The Clean Pull: Move from light to dark with limited strokes. Avoid blending dark into light to prevent mud.
        • The Fluffer: Softly diffuse edges using a clean brush. Effective for thin areas like the sky.
        • Avoid Over-Blending: Some artists prefer mixing and applying a third color directly rather than excessive blending. Harold Speed wisely said, “The more often paint is touched, the less vital the impression.”


    Remember, PMU is an art form that requires both technical skill and an artistic eye. These techniques, combined with your creativity, will help you craft personalized and magical PMU experiences for your clients! 


    Client Safety 



    One of the most important factors in mixing inks is the quality of the ink itself. High-quality inks are made with pure, non-toxic ingredients that are safe for use on the skin. Inferior quality inks may contain harmful substances that can cause allergic reactions or other health problems.

    Using sterile equipment, high-quality inks, and maintaining a clean workspace are non-negotiable standards in the industry. These practices ensure that the beauty of the final result is matched by the integrity of the process. Sterile equipment and a clean workspace help prevent contamination, which can cause infection and other health problems.

    The Importance of Documentation :  Keeping a Color Diary


    Keeping a detailed record of each custom mix is invaluable. A "color diary" is a tool for artists to record their ink mixing ratios, techniques, and the feedback received. This practice not only aids in refining the craft but also in creating a personal repository of successful formulas. It is important to document not only the successful shades but also the unsuccessful ones, as they can provide valuable insights into what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future.

    For example, an artist may record the ingredients used, the proportions, the mixing technique, the application technique, and the final result. They may also include notes on how the color changed over time, how it interacted with different skin types, and how the client reacted to the ink. This information can be used to create a database of successful formulas and to improve the quality of the artist's work.

    By conducting skin patch tests and initial applications, observing and adjusting, and documenting each mix, artists can refine their craft and create extraordinary results. A color diary is a valuable tool that allows artists to record their journey and showcase their growth and expertise in the art of ink mixing.


    NOTES : Skin Patch Tests and Initial Applications


    1. It is important to conduct skin patch tests and initial applications on small areas to allow the artist to observe how the ink settles into the skin and make necessary adjustments to achieve the perfect shade. The skin patch test can also reveal any possible allergic reactions or sensitivities to the ink.

    2. It is essential in the application process to use the right tools and techniques making sure that the ink is applied evenly and smoothly. The artist should also consider the client's unique skin tone and texture and adjust the pressure and depth accordingly.

    3. After the initial application, the artist should observe how the ink interacts with the skin and make necessary adjustments. This may include adding or subtracting color to achieve the desired shade, or adjusting the depth and pressure to ensure that the ink is evenly distributed.


    The Infinite Palette

    In conclusion, the art of mixing custom PMU ink shades is an integral part of the PMU industry, as it allows artists to offer a truly personalized beauty experience to their clients. It is a meticulous science that demands dedication, practice, and a passion for perpetual learning, while also being an expressive form of art that celebrates the unique beauty of each individual.