How it all started: Robin Pels

robin-2Robin Pels is a permanent makeup artist from Northern California who has 29 years of experience in permanent makeup. Robin has witnessedall the changes in the industry; she has a lot of knowledge of the outcome over this time period. Her medical supervisor is a plastic surgeon.Robin has given a lot of training courses; at the moment she is concentrated on working with her clients which gives her a lot of pleasure. She is proud to be a long time member of the SPCP (Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals) and believes that the only way to succeed in this field is to continue developing day by day. Robin is married and has two grown children; she spends her free time traveling and going to music festivals with her husband and her two Cavalier King Charles spaniels.


My name is Robin Pels; some of you while reading this will recognize the Pels as in Pels Pink – it is a very popular pigment in the Derma Internationals line of lip colors. How I wished it was that easy back then to just order pigments from a manufacturer!

I have been doing Permanent Cosmetics for 29 years, and what a long strange trip it has been. My mom is a nurse, and back then these 2 day courses were popping up targeting the nursing community for several reasons. First of all, they made good money as the courses naturally were not free;also, nurses are connected to the medical field, so it made it look more professional if an affiliated person was doing these procedures. My mom told me after I got my cosmetology license that she would pay the $6000 for the class. That was $4000 for the class and $2000 for the equipment. She thought my artistic ability was a benefit to this trade. They let me in to the class, of course they did – anyone with money would be welcomed. We were told over and over again that it was NOT tattooing. Well, after 2 days of grinding on pigs ears with an old coil machine, I figured out really quickly that I WAS in fact tattooing, and that I just spent $6000 of my mom’s money so I had better learn this right.


The first year I did maybe 6 eyebrow procedures, quite badly I am sure; I was having trouble finding out about the insurance they promised us. The insurance company would never return my calls. I was doing hair and bad eyebrows as well as waitressing at night just to make ends meet.My marriage was unstable and I feared the worst – I was going to be a young single mom with 2 children; and how was I going to make it?

At that time we all had access to tattoo supply companies; the $4000 dollar machine was in actuality a Spaulding and Rogers Puma Quick change, retail $150. As for pigments, we would order 5 colors: black, green, white, brown, and a pinkish red for lips. Black carbon for the eyeliner; brown, green and white mixed together to varying degrees for light, medium and dark brow colors, and everyone got the same lip color. We would prepare the mixture in a blender with alcohol and glycerin, just like the tattoo artists did it those days. Huck Spaulding was on to us and did not sell us just anything, with that he was smart, otherwise a lot worse could have been done on those faces. I think that probably the biggest jump in progress is that now there are companies that produce the best pigments we have access to. A lot of you probably don’t realize how nice it is to be able to just order pigments; every time I do it I thank my lucky stars that black carbon pigment isn’t flying through the air in my kitchen.

I was lucky to get a job at the only Permanent Makeup Studio in the country that specialized exclusively in permanent makeup.The commercial was on national TV all the time, so we were booked solid, every hour on the hour. That experience was horrible yet I learned so much, for example about the hairstroke technique;I stopped doing powdered eyebrows, and never looked back…

You can read the full article with Robin Pels in PMU International Magazine # 3.

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