About Micropigments

One of the most important set of questions concerning micro-pigmentation about the type of pigments that are used. What are the pigments, how long do they last, and how do they react to light? Below are some of the most common questions potential clients commonly ask with regards to pigmentation.


What is a chromophore?

A chromophore is any molecule or element which receives electromagnetic and reflects away certain wavelengths which fall in the visible spectrum. The human eye detects these reflected wavelengths and perceives this as the ‘color’ of the molecule or element. This is what gives table salt its white color and gold, its ‘goldness’. And therefore, actually any substance could technically be called a chromophore. In reality, the term is usually applied to specific substances which are known for generating a rich particularly vibrant pure color.


What is a dye? What is a pigment? And, what is an ink, and is there any difference between the three?

Dyes and pigments are both chromophores which give color to a substrate they are added to. More specifically, dyes are chromophores that are usually soluble in water (hydrophilic usually) and often dilute down into a substrate (like paper or skin). Because they are water soluble, they can be diluted easily and also concentrated to a high level. They can provide deeper and more rich colors than pigment compounds. The downside is that adding water to a dye, often results in smearing and further dilution.Pigments are chromophores that are often insoluble in water (sometimes behaving like lipids) and usually rest on top of a substrate. Although they cannot be concentrated like dyes, they are usually resistant to smears, staining and dilution. They are also more resistant to stress and sheer forces. For these reasons they are preferred over dyes for scalp micro-pigmentation.An ink is nothing more than a general term for any liquid, paste or powder which contains chromophores and is used to color a substrate. Usually an ink is made up of colorants (which are usually dyes or pigments), additives, binders and carriers, although, this can vary from one ink to another. As applies to a regular tattoo, an ink is usually composed of colorants (often pigments) and a carrier. This carrier can be water, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol, glycerine, methanol or one of several other compounds. The carrier is used to keep the pigments free from bacteria, to act sometimes as a transport agent and to increase permeability of the skin in many instances. As applies to micro-pigmentation, a cosmetic ink is any substance which contains pigments and a carrier.


Why is the role of the pigment paramount to the result a client receives?

The molecular structure of the pigment determines the ability of the pigment both to resist common biochemical reactions in the skin and persevere under both immune system responses and UV radiation. The exact nature and alignment of the various chemical bonds in a pigment’s three dimensional structure determine its ability undergo chemical reactions or degrade under UV radiation. Different classes of compounds, such as polymers, metal oxides, proteins, and even lipid based pigments all have unique chemical interactions. Thus, the perfect pigment for a hair simulation application is one that inert, chemically unreactive under most biochemical changes and heavily resistant to UV radiation.


What is the difference between tattoo ink and cosmetic pigmentation ink?

Both tattoo and cosmetic pigmentation ink can use the same pigments, or very similar pigment compounds to produce color. There are however, a number of differences. For example the metal content in SMP pigments is extremely low, far lower than traditional tattoo inks. SMP pigments are therefore highly unlikely to cause any issues with MRI or similar scans.One significant difference is the depth at which they are injected into the skin. Tattoo pigments are usually injected into the middle dermis, below the epidermis. Cosmetic pigments are usually deposited into the very top of the dermis. This means they are closer to the epidermis, and more easily degraded by UV radiation. Tattoo inks are less affected by UV radiation since they receive less light deeper down in the skin, but they are subject to more white blood cell agents (such as phagocytic cells).Unlike tattoo inks, SMP pigments will not change color over time.


source: research courtesy of hishairclinic.com

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