Choosing a Permanent Makeup Machine

Bronc V4 Hybrid rotary pens for permanent makeup

With many machines on the market it's difficult to know which is the right one to purchase, and to complicate things what is the best machine for someone else may not be the best one for you. Although many permanent makeup machines are similar there are a few small differences that may help you choose your next machine. 


The Coil Tattoo machineis a classic and powerful tattoo device. It is compatible with traditional needle-on-the-bar tattoo needles, which are held in place inside a tube and utilize a rubber band to adjust tension. The needle motion within the tube is linear. This machine is traditionally used for regular body tattooing. 

The Digital Rotary machine was designed for, and is a popular choice for permanent makeup. It consists of a small pen-style hand piece, has several speed settings and a usually a digital readout. They can be quite expensive due to the digital components and more so because they often require manufacturer-specific needle cartridges. Not only do manufacturer-specific needle cartridges typically cost more, they are generally very limited in available sizes and configurations. Although this might not be a consideration when you first begin, as you progress with your techniques you will likely want more options. Some rotary machines are powered through the device handpiece and do not require a screen or settings, so tend to cost less, but their power is often quite weak compared to other types of machines.

The Rotary Tattoo Machine was named due to the rotation of the drive shaft that causes the up and down motion of the needle. Rotary machines are smaller, lighter and a little less intimidating for many than coil machines, and pen-like models (Hybrid Rotary Machines) have been developed specifically for PMU. Rotary and Hybrid Rotary machines work like a digital rotary machine but use traditional tattoo needle cartridges and power supplies. This makes them much more affordable than a digital rotary machine, while offering a wide variety of needle choices as they are compatible with universal tattoo needle cartridges. 

The most commonly machines used for permanent makeup are the Digital Rotary & the Hybrid Rotary.




Do you prefer pre-set speeds? Many digital rotary machines offer pre-sets to assist you with different procedures. Although this may help you out when you are just learning, most artists will eventually discover that their own techniques and personal hand speed will require adjustments. A good example of this is pre-set speeds for eyebrows; traditional shading for eyebrows requires a faster speed setting than for the newer pixelated/smaller needle techniques which require a slow speed. If you choose a digital rotary machine, ensure you can change the speed to suit your needs. Hybrid rotary machines use a common tattoo power supplywith no presets your  speed setting can be completely customized. 

Do you need a powerful machine with high speed or more speed options? The cheaper pen style PMU machines can be limited in power and speed with some only offering 3 speed settings. All machine specifications should disclose the RPM's (revolutions per minute). This will help you know how fast and slow the machine can go. An average rotary machine is 0-12000RPM but some machines will start at 8000RPM and go up to 25000RPM. 

Needle Type

Does the machine take universal needle cartridges or does it require a specific brand? Many digital rotary machines will require brand-specific needle cartridges. This can be limiting in both size and configurations available and is often much more expensive. The Hybrid Rotary Pen machine uses universal tattoo needle cartridges which gives you access to a wide variety of brands, price and needle sizing but you may find it a bit confusing to begin with as the sizing is displayed in universal code for tattoo needles. 

Stroke Length

What is it and why does it matter? This is becoming a more commonly used term in our industry with most tattoo machines and hybrid rotary machines showing this information in the specifications. However, traditional PMU pens and digital rotary machines don't commonly reveal stroke length. 

Stroke Length is how far the needle retracts back into the machine and affects the force with which the needle hits the skin. The longer the stroke length the harder the "hit" to the skin and the more powerful the machine. Many PMU machines have a shorter stroke length so if you are changing from a digital rotary machine to a hybrid rotary pen machine, be aware of the strength in the hit.  The average stroke length in a hybrid rotary machine is 3.5-4.5mm but most permanent makeup specific pen machines are around 2.0-3.0mm. The Bronc V4 is 3.2. 


How big or small do you prefer your hand-piece? There is a slight difference in size and weight for most machines. While most digital rotary hand pieces tend to be similar in size, the hybrid rotary pens can vary significantly. Some are thicker and heavier for those artists that prefer a wider grip while others are lightweight and more similar to the hand piece of a digital rotary.  

These are a few important questions to ask yourself when looking for a new machine that will hopefully help you make an informed decision.  


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