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Color Theory: Part Two

Continuing on our color theory discussion from part one, we will cover two topics here: color selection and color correction. These are important topics for all Permanent Makeup (PMU) artists to master and are also good for clients to understand.


The most important aspect of Permanent Makeup is selecting the proper color for each client. If the wrong color is used, it leads to the pigment changing to unwanted, funky colors. I have seen every color of the rainbow come into my studio- from yellow, pink and purple to the most common: blue.

Photo credit: Unknown

To avoid this, pigment color must be selected based on balancing the client’s UNDERTONE. An undertone can be warm, neutral or cool. It can be identified based on examining the client’s skin, looking at the veins on their wrist, and by identifying their number on the Fitzpatrick skin type scale. In general, darker skin tends to be cooler and lighter skin tends to be warmer. However there are some exceptions (as seen in the chart below) so the artist must be trained and skilled in identifying the correct undertone.

Photo credit: Unknown

Once the undertone is identified, a pigment should be selected using the opposite tone. Why? Because our objective is to create neutral balance between the skin and the pigment.

If the skin is warm, use a cool pigment.

If the skin is cool, use a warm pigment.

If the skin is neutral, use a neutral pigment.

If you instead use the same tone of the skin (i.e. using cool on cool or warm on warm) it will lead to color shift to an unwanted color. Cool skin with cool pigment will be too cool, and will turn blue or purple. Warm skin with warm pigment will be too warm, and will result in orange, pink, or red brows. This is why you have to go with the opposite tone.

Artists should know their pigments well and whether they are warm, neutral or cool. Modifiers can also be used to balance out pigment tone and prevent color shifting.


For clients who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of seeing their brows shift color over time, color correction can be achieved by an artist trained in correction. The goal will be to neutralize the unwanted color to brown. This is done by using a pigment on the opposite side of the color wheel. Just like we learned in elementary school, opposite colors will mix to brown.

For blue brows, use orange.

For red brows, use green.

For purple brows, use yellow.

This may sound crazy to use orange, green and yellow pigments, and it can worry clients to see you pull out these colors to use- rightfully so! But when the pigments mix under the skin, it will balance out and achieve a brown color. There is a science to this and it works!

In addition, color can easily be neutralized at touch ups if brows appear to heal too cool or too warm. Clients will often see me adding orange to their pigment mixture or even using straight orange to neutralize. There is a method to the madness!

All artists should study and understand color theory to build strong knowledge and achieve the best results for each client. I highly recommend advanced color theory courses such as the Girlz Ink course by Teryn Darling.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for another new post coming soon! ♥︎

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