How to Choose Your PMU Artist

by Aesthetics by Aurestelle

Aesthetics by Aurestelle - No matter what product or service is that you are thinking about purchasing you will find reviews online that are both positive and negative, it can get a bit confusing trying to work out which ones to pay attention to.

It is only natural that retailers and service providers are going to promote their products and services, some of the really good businesses will also provide consumers some of the pros and cons that they should consider before making a choice but ultimately it is up to us to ask the right questions before making a purchase. So what questions should you ask before choosing a Permanent Makeup (PMU) Artist?

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I thought that first off the best way to approach this was to ask the customers themselves so I spoke with 14 women and 2 men all of whom had previously had cosmetic tattooing and to ask them for their tips bout selecting a PMU artist. Although most customers seem to be very happy with their cosmetic tattoos I deliberately included 3 women and 1 man in the group of 16 who were unhappy with the outcome of their cosmetic tattooing in order to gain the benefit of their experience.

Talking individually with this small group of people gave me some great tips and suggestions on how to select your artist and how to avoid making any mistakes, I also asked 2 PMU experts for their input on each of the suggestions and below are some of the results of my discussions with them.

Group Buying Deals

Comments from the Customers: Pretty much everyone in my group said to avoid buying a voucher for cosmetic tattooing from any of the group buying sites, the customers seemed to think that the service was not as good as selecting an artist and booking direct with them. One woman from the group was very unhappy with the results from a heavily discounted cosmetic tattoo voucher that she purchased from a group buying site and pointed out that it ended up costing her more to have the work fixed than it would have been to pay the full price for the treatment in the first place.

Comment from the Experts: Group buying sites sometimes pressure the business to offer the service at the lowest price possible and they might also take 20-70% of the money from the sale of the voucher, the cosmetic tattoo technician has a consumables cost to provide every treatment so in some circumstances they end up losing money on every treatment they provide via a group buying deal. Naturally this means the technician feels under pressure to provide the service as quickly and as cheaply as possible, this is not good for the customer and not good for the technician.

Both the customers and the experts seem to agree its best to avoid purchasing your cosmetic tattooing on group buying sites and probably also best to avoid heavily discounted offers as well.

The Artists Experience

Comments from the Customers: My group all agreed that this was one of the most important things to look for, check out the artists qualifications what courses they have completed, how long they have been a cosmetic tattooist and when you make your first appointment ask if you will be able to see full sized photographs of their work on previous clients.

One of the women in my group pointed out that you need to be careful about looking at the sippets of pictures on websites because they tend not to show the persons full face, instead they tend to show small cut outs of lips and eyebrows etc which can look completely different when you see a picture of the persons complete face, for example an eyebrow might look nice on its own but it might be too high or too low on the face or the wrong shape for the face when seen in a full face picture.

Comment from the Experts: Some technicians will publish portions of photos on the internet, others wont for privacy reasons but a client should be able to view a range of photographs at the first consultation before they commit to having their own treatment performed. If you are not happy with the appearance of the past work then have a look at the work being offered by another technician.

It does seem quite obvious that you would look for a well trained and experienced artist.


Comments from the Customers: The consensus from the group was that it was less painful, they healed faster and the results were better from the modern computer processor controlled equipment. A couple of the customers in my group said that they felt it was unjustifiable for an artist to be charging the same amount for the cost of a treatment if they were using equipment that only cost a few dollars as compared to another technician using equipment that costs thousands of dollars and yet many artists charge the same price regardless of what equipment they were using.

Comment from the Experts: Well trained technicians can achieve good results from a range of different equipment, it is important to check that the technician has had specific training for use of the equipment that they will be providing the service with. For example undergoing training with a hand tool would not qualify a technician to provide the service with a modern digital machine. They agreed that the quality of equipment being used to provide the service should have some bearing on the cost of the service and that it is reasonable to expect there will be a relationship between the quality of the equipment and the outcome.

Both the customers and the experts agreed that the quality and cost of the equipment should have some bearing on the cost of the service and the results.


Comments from the Customers: Most of the customers in my group knew very little about what was a good or not so good pigment brand as they relied upon the artists choice, one of the men in group said that he asked several micropigmentation technicians to tell him what ingredients were in their pigments and most either did not know or were not willing to tell him.

Comment from the Experts: There is a lot more interest by the health regulators now about what ingredients are in tattoo pigments than ever before, there is no question that some tattoo pigments contain substances that should not be tattooed into the skin because the regulators have demanded recalls on some of them recently. Part of the reason why cosmetic tattoos do not last as long as a body art tattoo is because in general the manufacturers of cosmetic tattoo pigments are more cautious about excluding some of the more risky ingredients, having said that some cosmetic tattoo pigments are safer than others.

Some questions to ask your technician about their pigments;

  • has the pigment been subjected to allergy testing?
  • can you provide a full ingredients list?
  • do you have materials safety data sheets for the pigments?
  • are the pigments sterile?
  • how big are the bottles being used? - larger containers have more risk of being contaminated with handling and reuse.

From the sound of it the choice of pigment being used is a lot more important than most customers are aware of.

Waiting Period Between Treatments & Touch Ups

Comments from the Customers: From what the customers in my group told me that there is some conflicting advice from artists about if one, two, or three treatments were required the first time they have a cosmetic tattoo. Also some customers had been told to wait a few days or a couple of weeks between treatments and others had been told to wait 4-6 weeks. Advice about touch ups was also quite variable with some being told 2, 3 or up to 5 years and others being told the cosmetic tattoo would last 10 years without needing a touch up.

Comment from the Experts: In most instances a client will require 2 treatments the first time that they have any form of cosmetic tattooing, with medical tattooing that might be three treatments. Treatments should always be a minimum of 4-6 weeks apart as it takes that amount of time for healing, for the keratinization cycle to complete, and for the pigment to be adequately fixated in the skin, those with frail skin should wait at least 6 weeks. There are risks with treatments conducted less than 4 weeks apart such as triggering cyclical skin irritation, causing skin damage, causing pigment to migrate under the skin.

There are a lot of factors outside of the technicians control that will affect how long it will be before a touch up is required, for PMU 2-5 or 3-5 years are often quoted as the average, with some medical tattoo procedures it may be sooner than that. If body art pigment has been used then it may last a lot longer but there is also more risk of unwanted colour change and skin reactions.

From the sound of it you should definitely wait 4 weeks or longer between treatments.


Of course my list of tips does not cover everything but I hope that the insights from my small group of customers and the two experts helps you to choose the right artist for your next treatment.


Permanent Makeup, Oooh Yea!

I think Permanent Makeup is fab and after having it I would not be without it.

Aesthetics by Aurestelle


Many thanks to Aurestelle for her contribution to our education articles.

Original publication date: 26/07/2014

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The content of this article should be regarded as general information & is provided solely for the purpose of discussion & is not intended to replace cosmetic tattoo training or medical advice in any instance, always check with a cosmetic tattoo master trainer and or a qualified medical practitioner before acting on any information regarding cosmetic tattooing or in relation to any medical condition or medical circumstance.

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