How to Select Permanent Lip Color For Your Clients | Painful Pleasures Community

How to Select Permanent Lip Color For Your Clients

Permanent makeup lips require a strong understanding of color to perform correctly. Learn how to choose the best lip color for your permanent makeup.
by Painful Pleasures Last Updated: May 27, 2021

Client receiving permanent makeup lip blush procedure from PMU artist with pink pigment

Permanent makeup procedures have become tremendously popular in recent years due to their affordability and value relative to traditional makeup, as well as their long-term ease and convenience. One of the most frequently requested procedures for many PMU artists is permanent lip coloring or “permanent lipstick,” which not only provides a beautiful tone and hue for the lips, but can also help define their shape and outline. Like other facial permanent makeup procedures, however, permanent makeup lips require a strong understanding of color to perform correctly — you don’t want to make a mistake on one of the most noticeable and prominent features on a client’s face.

Client Color Preference

The first factor to take into account when choosing the color for PMU lips is the client’s desired lip color. Their preference will help you narrow the range of choices to one or two major color groups. This initial conversation is a good time to remind clients that “permanent” makeup does in fact fade over time — typically one to two years in the case of permanent lip color — and will need to be touched up or reapplied eventually.

Skin Tone and Undertone

The second and most important factor for PMU artists to understand when applying permanent lip color is the underlying skin tone of the client. Whatever pigment you apply to the lips will blend and interact with their natural skin tone to create the final color. The best way to check the client’s lip tone is to have them stretch their lower lip so you can closely inspect its color. Evenflo color wheel for permanent makeup artist reference

People with paler skin tend to have more bluish or rosy tones in their lips, while those with darker complexions will have a greater presence of yellow or brown undertones. Generally speaking, the PMU artist will want to balance the underlying tone of the lips with the tone of the pigment, meaning that cooler skin undertones pair most naturally with warmer pigments, while warmer skin undertones want cooler pigments. A simple tool like a color wheel can help you study and understand the interactions and balance of different colors and hues. The color wheel to the right, provided by Evenflo, offers a general depiction of the color wheel, including primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

For balancing skin tones and undertones, we recommend the Evenflo Lip Color Correction Set for professional PMU artists practicing lip procedures. This set, created by PMU artist Lulu Siciliano, contains every essential pigment for balancing dark and cool tones for every Fitzpatrick skin type. For instance, if your client has violet undertones, use Illume, a golden-yellow pigment from the Lip Color Correction Set, to balance out the tones. This set also includes a bright orange Neutralizer pigment for blue undertones and a bright red Colorizer for green undertones.

Collage of Evenflo lip pigments for permanent makeup procedures by PMU artist Tina DaviesPigment Characteristics

Once you understand your client’s desired color and have identified their underlying skin tone, you’re ready to recommend some specific permanent makeup pigments from your collection. At this point, your experience with specific brands will be important, as each brand has unique color characteristics and will blend slightly differently. Major brands like Perma Blend provide a variety of subtle and overlapping color options to blend and match any skin tone and lip undertone. Permanent makeup artist and entrepreneur Tina Davies offers a wide variety of popular lip pigments by Perma Blend, notably her Lust and Envy lip sets. Both sets are available on our Web store.

Again, pigments with cooler undertones like mauve or brown will generally best suit clients with rosier lip undertones, while pigments with warmer undertones like pink or orange will match best with bluer and cooler lip undertones. Keep basic color theory in mind, however — a very warm red pigment tone mixed with a very cool blue lip undertone will appear purple, for example.

Permanent Makeup Lip Procedures Seafoam Spektra Xion S Permanent Makeup machine by FK Irons for lip tattooing  

The final factor to consider when choosing lip pigments is the procedure the client wants, which is most likely lip lining, full color, or both. For more natural-looking lip lines, choose a color that is close to their natural lip tone and undertone. For more dramatic outlines, choose a shade slightly darker. The same general rule applies for full color applications, though artists will usually apply a lighter shade for the fill in the center of the lips and a slightly darker shade for the surrounding outline. 

To make the final color decision with the client, you can do a “smear and match” test. Apply a small amount of each pigment to their lips using a q-tip and let them see the result. Sometimes a color that should work in theory, or that looks great on the color chart, doesn’t quite match when applied. This is a great final filter and test before actually applying the color for the client.

Remember that PainfulPleasures carries all of the permanent makeup supplies you need, from permanent makeup machines to pigments to microblading supplies, at the best prices you can find online.


Image of color wheel via

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