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November 16, 2021
Fresh, wholesome and pesticide free. Organic is always better, right? Wrong! Organic food and organic pigments have nowhere near the same meaning. In this blog post we’re going over the core differences between organic and inorganic pigments, their pros, cons and when to use them. We want you to be as informed as possible when buying microblading and PMU pigment online so you can get the results you're looking for first time every time. Knowledge is power after all.
The word organic means “related to or deriving from living matter”. But in the context of pigments, that doesn’t necessarily mean your pigments are made of plants or animals. It can, but most modern PMU pigments don’t. Instead, the important thing to remember is organic pigments are made using carbon. Carbon is the building block of all life. We’re called carbon-based life-forms for a reason; 12% of our bodies are made of carbon molecules.
By contrast, inorganic pigments are made of out metals and minerals commonly extracted from the earth. Substances like iron oxides, titanium dioxide, and manganese violet. Most inorganic pigments are no more or less ethical than organic ones. They’re both commonly made in a lab, have nothing to do with animals and are equally as fresh and pesticide free.
So what does this mean for you as an artist? If ethics are not the deciding factor between the two, then what should be? You know when to buy a 12CF microblading tool versus a 14CF microblading tool. But how do you choose between pigment types? Read on to find out.
Although once upon a time tattoo and PMU artists would have used only organic dyes made from plant and animal extract. Now most modern organic PMU pigments are made in a laboratory. Carbon is mixed with common natural substances like nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen. Changing the ratios of these mixtures changes the colour.
Organic pigments are often used for lip and areola tattooing because of their bright colour.
Organic pigments also produce an amazing opaque pitch-black sometimes used by experienced PMU artists to draw eyeliner. This is because the molecules of elemental carbon are the smallest ingredients used in PMU pigment. However, this is a double-edged sword. These small molecules also make it easy for the pigment to migrate where it is not wanted. Therefore we only advise that very experienced technicians attempt this.
Water-based pigments are the opposite of oil-based pigments. They are usually organic, containing around 45% water content and are popular for lip pigmentation because the colouring is very fast and bright. Water-based pigments are great for oily skin which is usually poor at retaining pigment and needs regular touch-ups.
Inorganic pigments, as previously mentioned, are made out of minerals and metallic salts from the earth. They are more common than organic pigments in the PMU industry but they also have their pros and cons.
Opaque and long lasting - Inorganic pigments show up well when exposed to light and are very resistant to fading. This means they are a clear and reliable choice for long-lasting results.
Poor tonality - Despite being clear, the colour of inorganic pigments is often dull and uninspiring. The only way to fix this is to mix in organic components.
Cost-effective - Inorganic pigments are cheaper to produce than organic as they require relatively simple chemical reactions to make, especially in large quantities.
Toxicity - Although most good brands are very careful choosing their ingredients, some inorganic pigments can be harmful to us or the environment. They also carry a slightly greater risk of allergic reaction.
Inorganic pigments are great for microblading and scalp micropigmentation. Being resistant to fading and migrating means you can be confident your fine hair lines won’t move or blur and should last a long time for the customer. Being opaque also means they are clearly visible too.
Iron Oxide Pigments
Iron Oxide is a very popular ingredient within many inorganic pigments. In fact, most pigments on the market had iron oxide in it at one point. Because of this some people mistakenly assume that inorganic and iron oxide pigments are the same thing. That’s not true. Nowadays, there are a great variety of pigment mixtures with do and don’t include iron oxide. As with anything, it has its pros and cons.
For example, Iron Oxide is very stable and can be easily mixed to achieve any colour by using the three most common ones, yellow iron oxide, red colcothar and black iron oxide. It also recreates the look of foundation, blush and eyeshadow makeup very well. On the downside, iron oxide on its own is prone to colour changes, uneven fading and migrating. There is also a concern that the iron oxide can react with the magnets in an MRI scan and cause a burning sensation for the client.
Nowadays, many pigments still use iron oxide but it is more common to mix with other ingredients and some do opt not to use it at all.
Most pigments are oil-based pigments within SPMU and they can be either organic or inorganic. Oil-based pigments are the opposite of water-based pigments.
Now you know the difference between Organic and Inorganic pigments, this is where the trickiness really starts. You have to decide which microblading or PMU pigment to buy and it can be difficult online where there’s so many brands and so much information. Well, what you need to know is this:
Most brands mix together organic and inorganic components to achieve the best of both types, with varying ratios and results. In fact, 95% of PMU pigment on the market will be a mixture. These mixtures will be mostly labeled as inorganic, in the same way a meal with both inorganic and organic ingredients will have to be labelled inorganic as a whole.
Because of this, figuring out which pigment will have which qualities can often be a task of trial and error. (Not on your clients of course!)
Not all is lost though. You can check the ingredients of a pigment to work out if it is more mineral or carbon based and you can ask suppliers for help. If you’re seeking more vibrancy, more longevity or a mixture of the two, this information can still be very helpful.
That being said, it's important that you always test out your pigments on a practice skin before using them on a customer. That way you can judge the pigment with the qualities that work best for you as an artist. (Yes, your personal preference matters too!) We have plenty of practice skins in our shop for you to choose from, with UK next day delivery and fast shipping all over the world, so there’s no excuse not to!
Here we have plain skins for basic pigment testing, textured eye, nose and mouth skins for getting to know how your pigment works around the face, and our microblading practice skins kit.
Additionally, you need to patch test every pigment you intend to use on every client you intend to use it on to make sure they have no allergies to the ingredients. Although organic pigments are generally hypoallergenic, it's not good enough to assume it will be okay when it's your client’s health at stake. You should always be safe and patch test 48 hours before the procedure is due.You can check out our patch test lancets here. They’re easy to use. Simply take your pigment (or serum) onto the tip of the needle and scratch lightly across the forearm. This should not draw blood or be painful for the client.
Finally, choosing a trusted brand with quality pigments is absolutely more important than whether it is organic or inorganic. For example, a quality organic pigment will have more staying power, resistance to fading and discoloration than a poorly made inorganic one, even though those things are typically its weakness.
Quite simply, quality pigment can mean the difference between years of beauty bliss or a permanent fashion disaster for your client.
All the pigments we sell in our shop are tried and trusted.
If you’re in the UK you can buy them today and try them tomorrow!
Knowing what makes organic and inorganic pigment unique is extremely useful. But choosing and testing pigments carefully for your own first hand experience is even more so! Practice is everything in SPMU and with enough of it everyone can be a master.Any Questions? Get in contact below:
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