The following is a description of permanent makeup equipment and machines that are most commonly used by technicians in the industry. When interviewing your trainer, make sure you ask which type of modality he/she teaches to beginning students. A student going through our apprenticeship program will train on all equipment, including machines, the hand method, and microblading.


The Hand Infusion Method

The hand infusion method utilizing a hand tool is a technique where pigment is "tapped" into the skin using a small hand instrument that looks similar to an exacto knife handle with needles at the tip.It's interesting to note that the word "tattoo" comes from the word "tatau", with origins in the Samoan language meaning to "tap" or the " tapping style" of Polynesian Tatau practiced by non Samoan cultures and artists. Many people in the permanent makeup industry refer to this style as "Softap", however Softap is a trade name. The company Softap produces hand tools for artists specializing in the hand method of permanent makeup application.

The correct term for this type of application is the "hand method". Cavemen have been discovered with tattoos that were applied using a tapping method. Tattooing of makeup was also common in Egypt before Christ.

In recent years, a variation of the hand method has been done referred to as "microblading". Microblading is a technique where very fine needles are pulled through the skin, resulting in a hyper-realistic looking hair stroke. It has taken the permanent makeup industry by storm, and is now in demand throughout the world. The following are photos of the hand method with a Softap hand tool, as well as the microblading technique of eyebrow application.




We love this type of application because it is easy to learn, results in a beautiful and natural look, and is economical as a start up choice for beginners. Each tool comes pre-sterilized and is disposed of after every client, eliminating the need for an autoclave. We use Softap brand hand tools. This company has given us a wonderful assortment of instruments to choose from, much like an artist has different brushes to achieve different results on a canvas. Prices range from $5.00 to $20.00 each. You will find that this type of permanent makeup equipment is the lowest "cost per procedure" of all modalities (digital rotary vs. coil vs. hand). It is also a very quiet method of application. Clients are at ease during the procedure. We have also found that clients usually do not need topical anesthetic when beginning some procedures such as eyebrows, as the technique is gentle and usually very tolerable. This eliminates the need for pre-numbing time, usually 25 to 30 minutes on brows. An additional benefit of not using anesthics is better color results, sometimes eliminating the need for a touchup procedure. Shorter procedure time and fewer touchups result in more profit per procedure.

The one drawback of this modality is speed of application for beginners. It takes experience to build up your speed, so after your initial permanent makeup class, it will take some time to build your speed with clients. Additionally, beginners usually have more touchups, however this is usually the case with all modalities. Touchups may be required with any type of application.


Digital Rotary Machines

Digital rotary machines are professional looking, quiet, and easy to handle. This is "state of the art" permanent makeup equipment. The needles come in a cartridge that is pre-sterilized, so there is no need for an autoclave. The needle pops in and out of the hand piece very easily. Digital read outs make it simple to adjust the power. The needles hit the skin approximately 1800 times per minute, so you can complete procedures quickly. The quality digital rotary machines are manufactured in Germany and are "top of the line". They are also an excellent choice for a medical office or day spa. Here is a photo of a digital machine:


Digital machines are fairly easy to learn, and give beautiful results in the hands of a skilled technician. The only issue with high quality digital machines are the price ! You will invest anywhere from $1200 to $3500 depending on the machine you choose. We have several different machines for our students to try out in class, including the new wireless machine with rechargable batteries, "The Skin Master". Digital machines are wonderful for doing lip procedures, eyeliner, solid fill or softly shaded brows, and hair simulation.


In recent years, machine builders have been designing and producing high end rotary machines that are designed for traditional body tattooing. These machines usually have german or swiss motors, and are well regarded in the industry. We have been using several of these machines in our studio. They work well on all procedures, and will also handle advanced procedures such as A.R.T. (areola restorative tattooing) and scar camouflage. Some of the machines our students will have the opportunity to work with in our apprenticeship program include the following: Cheyenne Hawk Pen, Bishop ratary, FK Irons Spektra Halo, and the FK Irons Edge X. Here are a few photos of these beautiful machines:


FK Irons Spektra Halos - All these pretties lined up in a row !


Bishop Rotary


FK Irons Edge X


Cheyenne Hawk Pen


Traditional Tattoo Machines AKA Coil Machine

The traditional tattoo machine also known as the coil machine, has long been the choice of many professionals. It is known as the "workhorse" of the industry. Here is a photo of me holding this machine. I'm posting this photo because many technicians assume that these permanent makeup machines are very heavy and cumbersome. To the contrary, lightweight machines are used in permanent cosmetics. Here is a photo of me using a traditional coil tattoo machine while doing an eyeliner:


The tattoo machine was invented by Samuel O'Reilly in the early 1900's and was designed after an electric calligraphy machine invented by Thomas Edison.






So what are the pros and cons of the tattoo machine? I like the fact that it is sturdy, will last years and years without having to replace parts, and has the power to complete procedures effectively and quickly. It also has numerous needle configurations that allow you to achieve different artistic effects. Some rotary and digital machines do not offer this assortment of needle options. You can work very quickly, as the needles hit the skin an average of 2800 times per minute. The coil machine is also economical to purchase and maintain. Start up equipment will usually run between $500 and $600. Two small parts called "springs" may need to be replaced every few years, and cost about $2.00 per set. Many "pen" machines are economical, however are cheaply made and do not hold up over time, so need to replaced on a yearly basis.

What are the negative aspects of this modality? It is noisy and some people say it reminds them of the sound of a dentist drill. Most clients are more "on edge" with this noise, especially when doing eyeliner procedures. If you are in a doctor's office or day spa, or other situation where the noise is an issue, this may not be the choice for you. However if you eventually have the goal of doing small tattoos or large scale body art, this may be the machine for you. As far as weight, we use lightweight machines for permanent makeup. They are manageable, and John Hashey has revolutionized the industry with his "super mini coil". If you are in our apprenticeship program, you will have the opportunity to work with John's super mini coil.


Photo showing the super mini coil compared to John's mini coil machine.


I feel that this modality is more challenging to learn. It takes time to master. The machine can easily get out of tune, and can be finicky. If it gets out of adjustment, it won't run correctly, or may completely stop in the middle of a procedure. New technicians can really be intimidated when this happens. I personally feel that a student will need to serve an apprenticeship when wanting to learn on this type of equipment.

Let's Sum It All Up !

To further illustrate methods of permanent makeup application, I've included some video links below showing myself, some of my students, and other artists using the various means of permanent makeup application. Watching these videos should give you a good idea of which type of equipment you would like to train on.

Softap Video - One of my students doing Softap during class. Notice how calm and relaxed this client is:


Softap Permanent Makeup Application


Student Doing Eyeliner Procedure with Skinmaster Duet Wireless Machine:


Machine Application


If you have additional questions about permanent makeup, equipment or classes, call Terry at 210-585-8410.


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