Formulating the World’s Finest
Permanent Cosmetic Pigments

Physicians, Aestheticians, and Permanent Cosmetic Practitioners travel from all over the world to attend the International Intradermal Cosmetics Expo (IICE) held annually in Texas’ Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. Over its fifteen year history, IICE has gained a reputation as the ultimate educational conference and trade show for Permanent Cosmetics Professionals.

The vast majority of attendees surveyed reported they came to IICE for the powerful education, hands-on training and industry updates. “I go to IICE every year because the ‘no-nonsense’ information and hands-on training adds value and profit to my business,” acknowledged a veteran attendee. “It’s the most intensive and cost effective way for me to improve my skills and learn new techniques from the best technicians in the profession. IICE is the place to go if you really want to learn the art of permanent makeup.”

“IICE is a powerful educational tool” added another twenty-year veteran technician. “But don’t discount the importance of high-quality pigments. Excellence in education is nothing without superior pigments that work and you can’t get Premier Pigments at other conventions!”

Informed technicians agree that the secret to great procedures is in the pigments and also the techniques when using those pigments. Most attendees learned of IICE by word of mouth from other practicing technicians singing the praises of Premiers’ permanent pigments. “I tried everything on the market,” one technician wrote, “And nothing – I mean nothing – works like Premier’s colors. Premier Pigments changed my procedures and that changed my life!”

Permanent make-up is on the rise and permanent cosmetic supply companies are popping up everywhere while Premier remains the industry leader. The company is thriving even after what Premier’s founder, Sandi Hammons referred to as the most challenging years in the history of permanent makeup.

In 2002, Premier Pigments received reports of allergic reactions to some of the colors in its True Color Concentrate line, the first such reports in its 20-year history. The company promptly implemented an aggressive voluntary recall of the entire True Color line with the assistance of the Food and Drug Administration. Premier’s decision to recall, ‘fear’ fueled by competitors and a public FDA alert, initiated a whirlwind of media attention comparable to Tylenol’s recall in the 1980’s. The Associated Press, NBC, ABC, CNN and Reuters were among the hundreds of major news organization to cover the story. Premier responded with an offer to arrange financial support and medical treatment to anyone with an allergic reaction to permanent pigments regardless of the manufacturer.

The story of the company’s decisive recall action and its subsequent offer of medical assistance as reported by CBS, NBC, MSNBC and other major newspapers and trade journals garnered accolades from technicians for the company and its founder.

Today, years after the questionable pigments were recalled and destroyed; competitive supply companies continue to spread confusion, controversy and fear in an attempt to warn technicians and their clients away from Premier’s popular colors. However, attempts to steer practitioners away from Premier Pigments haven’t worked and Premier’s pigment sales have climbed to new highs.

What is driving the demand for permanent cosmetic’s favorite pigments? Why would body artists pay five times the amount they once spent on tattoo ink for cosmetic pigments designed for the face? Why would technicians choose Premier Pigments even as competitive suppliers continue their attempts to interject fear into the hearts of permanent cosmetic practitioners?

It’s the technicians that are asking for more: more colors, more formulas, more applications, and now, for more of Premier’s Concentrated Originals. Hammons is approached, on an almost daily basis now, by other pigment distributors asking for private label concentrated colors. So what’s all the fuss about? What makes these colors different from other cosmetic pigments? Is it the ingredients? Is it the process by which the colors are manufactured? Is it the combination of raw colorants that makes these pigments unique? It’s all of the above and more.

Creating safe, predictable, and permanent colorants that are backed by scientific integrity and provide long-term color stability was not a simple task. Sandi Hammons founded Premier Pigments while searching for a solution to fading colors in her early years as a pioneering intradermal cosmetic practitioner. Hammons compares the journey of discovering and formulating the world’s finest cosmetic pigments to the process of learning the art itself. In the beginning she relied on information from several cosmetic chemists who specialized in organic and inorganic chemistry, and in chemical laboratories analyzing specific ingredients in cosmetic formulas, tattoo inks, and food dyes. Safety and a history of no known allergenic properties were the first considerations.

The relationship between the specific ingredient and the body’s absorption is equally as important as the safety of the materials used for cosmetic tattoo application. Absorption of iron oxide is obvious because iron oxide fades and changes color, usually within a matter of weeks or months. However, other less obvious ingredients can result in color changes over time. Although much information exists regarding safety, color predictability and long term stability of specific ingredients in colorants used in foods, drugs, and cosmetics, there was little research that preceded Premier’s in regard to long-term color stability of specific ingredients in colorants implanted into the skin.

As pioneers in this research, Premier chemists often had to rely on limited information from the FDA, practical application and observation of color retention over a period of time. By collecting empirical data, Premier researchers identified and eliminated specific ingredients that created unpredictable color changes and premature fading. Premier’s new concentrated formulas contain only those ingredients that have held true to color for many years. “The only way to test longevity of colorants applied in the skin”, says Hammons “is to test the pigments in the skin and to observe the changes after several years.” Hammons has been testing and observing specific pigment ingredients for over twenty years.

Recently, Premier performed an extensive survey of procedure color retention in over five hundred case studies performed ten to twenty years ago.

Specific characteristics of pigments recognized by Premier and chosen for individual color applications include: the refractive index of the pigments, particle size, hiding efficiency, pH, bulking value, density, tinting strength, and impermeability (barrier properties). For the purpose of tattoo application, the opacifying ability of each colorant is also an important consideration. Declining particle size increases the opacifying efficiency of the pigments. The finer the grind of the powder, the better opacifying ability. However, if the particle size of the pigment is too small, the colorant will appear almost transparent and the opacifying ability decreases. In addition, pigments that are too small in particle size will migrate in the skin.

The ingredients, the interaction between specific ingredients, and the process used to disperse pigments are also important considerations for pigment manufacturing. The goal of the dispersion process is to produce a stable suspension of pigment particles homogeneously and uniformly distributed in the dispersant. The dispersion process includes three essential stages: wetting the pigments (removal of air or water absorbed on the surface of the pigment particles), grinding (the mechanical breakdown of the pigment agglomerates and separation of the particles) and stabilizing the dispersion (preventing the particles from rejoining). Dispersions commonly used in cosmetic tattoo formulas include: isopropyl alcohol, glycerin, propylene glycol, witch hazel, and distilled water. Premier’s unique dispersions, pigments that stood the test of time and the proprietary processes used to increase the pigment load and to achieve batch to batch uniformity create concentrated formulas that are far superior to cosmetic colorants of the past.