So, you've been toying with the idea of diving into permanent makeup (PMU) as a business? With demand for PMU procedures rising and easier access to training and high-quality PMU equipment, you couldn’t have picked a better time. But if starting your own PMU business feels impossible, we can simplify it—here are the key things you need to know to kickstart your permanent makeup business.
Understanding the Permanent Makeup Industry: An Overview
The permanent makeup scene is booming—and it’s safe to say it isn’t going anywhere. While permanent makeup has existed for decades, it was still considered “daring” and “fringe” throughout the early 2000s. Then came the trend of full, sculpted brows in the 2010s and the natural results of the microblading techniques, officially bringing PMU into the mainstream. The popularity of microblading has helped make all PMU techniques a little less taboo and mysterious, leading to the current boom of the permanent makeup industry.
Now, clients who come to shape up their brows are more likely to dive into other procedures, such as lip blushing, permanent eyeliner, or semi-permanent foundation. The PMU world also includes several niche procedures like permanent freckles, scalp pigmentation to conceal hair loss, and paramedical PMU to camouflage scars or recreate the appearance of nipples on mammectomy patients.
Many PMU artists make their living from the most common PMU procedures (i.e. the eyes, brows, lips, and face), while others specialize in specialized services like scalp pigmentation or scar camouflage. One of the first steps you’ll take in your journey to becoming a PMU artist is researching current trends and procedures and identifying the market or niche in which you think you’d thrive.
Identifying Your Target Market in the Permanent Makeup Business
Choosing your target market or niche as a PMU (Permanent Makeup) artist is a crucial step in building a successful career. Consider your passion, skills, and the market demand in your local area to make an informed decision.
If you live for all things makeup and beauty, focusing on beauty-centric PMU procedures like eyebrows, eyeliner, and lip blush might be a natural fit. These procedures cater to clients looking for convenience and a polished appearance. Since beauty-focused procedures are the most common form of PMU, you’ll likely have a wide potential client base. But you may also face more competition, especially in a larger metropolitan area.
On the other hand, if you're drawn to the medical side of PMU, paramedical procedures such as areola reconstruction or scar camouflage can be emotionally rewarding, helping individuals regain confidence after surgeries or trauma. Paramedical PMU usually takes additional training, and some procedures, like scar camouflage, can be especially tricky. Many PMU artists add paramedical procedures onto their service offerings but don’t make their living off of it completely.
Scalp pigmentation is another emerging niche, addressing concerns like thinning hair or baldness. Depending on the area of “hair” being covered, this can be an incredibly time-consuming and detail-oriented procedure. The time and skill level required for natural-looking results mean PMU artists can charge a premium for this service, making it especially lucrative.
Wherever your interests lie, you’ll want to evaluate the local demand and competition for each niche, considering how many local PMU artists are already established and how you will differentiate your business. Ultimately, align your choice with your passion and the needs of your community to thrive in the dynamic PMU industry.
Creating a Comprehensive Business Plan for Your Permanent Makeup Venture
With a target market in mind, it’s time to get down to business –business planning. A thought-out business plan is your roadmap to success. You’ll outline your marketing strategy, analyze the competition, and project your finances in it. Here are some questions you’ll want to consider as you craft your permanent makeup business plan:
- What will your startup costs be? Be sure to consider the cost of training, equipment, rent, licensing, etc.
- What will your recurrent month-to-month costs be after startup? Think rent, utilities, pigments, and other supplies.
- How much money will you need to make to turn a profit?
- What can you expect to make in your first six months? First year? How many clients would you need to serve and what would you need to charge for each procedure?
- Will you start with just a few procedures and gradually offer more?
- How much competition would you face in your local area from other PMU artists?
- What is the demand for PMU procedures in your area?
- Does your area have demand for specialty PMU procedures?
Marketing and Branding
- How will you differentiate from your competition?
- What platforms will you use to promote your business? You may want to consider local advertisements, social media, referral rewards programs, and customer retention strategies (i.e. ensuring your customers return to you for touchups and not another artist).
Acquiring the Necessary Certifications and Licenses
Licensing requirements for permanent makeup artists vary from state to state. Some will require you to complete a training program, know proper sterilization and sanitation standards, and have business insurance, while others are surprisingly lax, only requiring that you register your business. Be sure to look into your state’s requirements, but ultimately, you should 100% pursue proper training in PMU application and safety and sterilization procedures—even if your state doesn’t require it.
Why? Not only is it the best way to ensure the safety of your customers, it’s essential for building your skills and preventing injury and infection in your PMU studio. Botched PMU and unsanitary conditions are the fastest ways to see your new business fail, so take training seriously! Look for a training program that covers bloodborne pathogens, sterilization, as well as the step-by-step process of any PMU procedure. Your state may have specific requirements for training programs, so make sure the program you choose is compliant.
Finally, you’ll also need to obtain business insurance, register your business with your state, and set up an LLC (or other business configuration that will protect your personal assets in the event that you are sued).
Investing in High-Quality Permanent Makeup Equipment
Investing in professional-grade PMU machines and pigments isn’t a splurge—it’s essential. Opting for the least expensive machines and pigments you can find online risks the quality of your results and, more importantly, the health of your clients. Only ever buy machines and pigments from trusted brand names in the industry that test pigments for contaminants. Look for the Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). A reputable company will have one for each pigment shade, usually available on their website.
As far as machines, you can’t go wrong by sticking to trusted distributors of PMU or tattooing equipment and avoiding sites like Amazon. When you buy from Ultimate Beauty, you can rest assured that we only stock machines that are trusted by PMU artists around the world. Even if you choose one of your least expensive options, you’ll know that it’s still a quality machine capable of producing beautiful and consistent results with minimal damage to your clients’ skin.
Start Your Journey
Feeling overwhelmed with all there is to learn? We get it—there's a lot to take in between business strategies and PMU best practices. But remember, every successful PMU artist started in the same place. We’re here to help you on your journey to becoming a PMU artist with blog posts on everything from business tips to aftercare procedures.And when you’re ready to invest in your PMU machine and make your dreams a reality, you can find a wide selection of trusted, professional-quality machines and pigments here at Ultimate Beauty.