With some artists referring to the treatment as permanent and others using the phrase ‘semi-permanent’, it can get confusing for both clients and aspiring artists. One question we get asked a lot is: what is the difference between PMU and SPMU? To put it simply: there is no difference. PMU and SPMU both refer to the same treatments, and whether it is referred to as permanent or semi-permanent usually comes down to what the individual artist prefers to call it.

Permanent makeup and semi-permanent makeup usually both refer to microblading or micropigmentation treatments. Microblading involves using a manual hand tool to deposit pigment into the skin and is usually exclusive to eyebrow treatments. Micropigmentation involves using a digital PMU machine and needle cartridges to implant pigment, and it can be used across multiple treatments such as brows, lips, eyeliner, scalp, and areola.


Do we prefer to say PMU or SPMU?

At Killer Beauty, we will always refer to microblading and micropigmentation as ‘permanent’ makeup. Although pigment does fade significantly over a long period of time, it never leaves the skin completely (without removal). It may even fade to the point where it is barely detectable in the skin, but the pigment will never 100% disappear.

We prefer to use the phrase ‘permanent’ so that artists and clients understand that having these treatments is a commitment and that clients are trusting artists with their face, which is something not to be taken lightly. Due to this, it is crucial that anyone offering PMU services first completes an accredited, reputable training course and ensures that all of their equipment is fully safety tested to avoid any mishaps. 

For artists who shop at Killer Beauty, they can rest assured that we only stock products and equipment from reputable, global brands that have been fully tested and are of the highest quality. Using cheap or poor-quality products and equipment is extremely risky and unsafe for both the artist and client.#

Why do others refer to treatments as SPMU?

As we have stated above, pigment can fade significantly to the point where it is barely noticeable in the skin so this may be one reason why some artists refer to their services as SPMU. The label of semi-permanent may also help to manage client’s expectations regarding how long the treatment will last and how often they will require colour boost appointments (as all clients will need regular touch-ups to maintain their results!).

It really does come down to each artist’s personal preference and how they wish to market their services. There is no right or wrong name for micropigmentation and microblading and artists are free to label their treatments however they want to. For example, the technique of combining hair strokes and powder shading in brow treatments can have many different names: combination brows, combo brows, hybrid brows, fusion brows – to name just a few! They are all different names which essentially refer to the same treatment, it just varies depending on how the individual artist wishes to advertise their treatment. The same rule applies to PMU and SPMU – it is your personal choice.


What if a treatment goes wrong? 

The idea of micropigmentation and microblading being permanent can be daunting for beginners who are starting out. That is why we would always encourage beginners to do lots of research before they commit to a training course. We cover this and more in our blog How to Become a Cosmetic Tattooist. Lots of latex practice is also important for building up confidence.

As mentioned above, we would also encourage every artist (newbies or experienced) to invest in high-quality permanent makeup supplies and equipment (like those we stock at Killer Beauty) to reduce the risk of errors or complications in your treatments. 

Sometimes you can do everything you’re supposed to and unfortunately things can go wrong but do not panic! We cover all of this in our blog When PMU Goes Wrong – from any issues that can occur to what you can do to correct if they do.

For qualified artists interested in offering removal services, we also have a whole blog dedicated to salt-saline tattoo removal here. This method is one of the safest and most effective removal options on the market today and a useful skill to have, especially if you want some extra peace of mind when treating your clients.

Are some treatments more permanent than others?

In terms of micropigmentation vs. microblading, it is widely known in the industry that microblading pigment fades significantly quicker when clients have an oily skin type. Due to this, clients with oily skin-type would probably lean more towards machine method over microblading. 

Depending on skin type, clients could perceive microblading to be ‘less’ permanent than micropigmentation, although pigment will not disappear from the skin completely as mentioned earlier.

In terms of pigments, there are some formulas which do last longer in the skin compared to others. Pigments that are made from an organic formula (containing carbon) tend to last much longer in the skin than inorganic PMU pigments (which we cover in our blog here) as the quicker fading allows for small tweaks and improvements during annual top-ups, as an artist’s confidence and skills grow.


There you have it! To conclude, there is no real difference between ‘permanent’ and ‘semi-permanent’ makeup – these names refer to the same cosmetic tattoo treatments and which name you use for your services comes down to your personal preference. As long as your clients understand what the treatment entails and their expectations have been managed, that is the most important thing. 

In an ideal world, one PMU treatment would last a lifetime but, unfortunately, the cellular structure of the face and how skin cells regenerate means that pigment will naturally fade in any skin type. On the plus side, this allows clients to make small changes over the years to keep up with the evolving trends and advances in the permanent cosmetics and beauty industries!