Permanent Makeup

Permanent Eyeliner

Though it might be difficult to imagine your mother or grandmother getting a tattoo, it’s not as impossible as you might think, when you consider permanent cosmetics! Many women (and more and more men) of all ages are taking advantage of tattoo technology to invest in permanent makeup – essentially, “makeup” that is tattooed onto the face.

There are all kinds of semi-permanent and permanent makeup (aka micropigmentation or dermapigmentation), here's an overview:

  • Permanent eye makeup such as permanent eyeliner.
  • Eyebrow tattoos.
  • Permanent lipstick and lip shading.
  • Tattooing over a scar to cover them up.


The woman in the following before and after pictures has permanent eyebrows, eyeliner and permanent lipstick and lip shading.


Permanent Makeup


The Benefits of Permanent Makeup

Permanent make up is an idea that may take some getting used to, but in fact, it is a very logical application.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • Why go through the trouble of applying eyeliner or eyebrow pencil day after day when you can have it applied only once and have it last for years, if not forever? Not only is this a time saver, but given the price of quality cosmetics, it can also save you tons of money in the long run. You'll never have to reapply your eyeliner or lipstick.
  • Permanent makeup is also an answer to the age old question of how to look good first thing in the morning.
  • Permanent makeup avoids having your makeup run while you’re swimming or watching a sad movie.
  • Permanent makeup boosts your self-esteem by gaining more confidence in your physical appearance. Imagine looking your very best all the time with hardly any effort!
  • Great news for exercisers and sports enthusiasts: no more smudging or waiting until after you've hit the gym to look your best. Permanent makeup is guaranteed to be sweat and waterproof. You can look like you've just stepped out of a salon 24 hours a day.
  • For some people, physical difficulties such as allergies or arthritis, prevent them from applying makeup on a daily basis. In such cases permanent makeup can be a solution.
  • Permanent makeup give your eyebrows permanent shape.
  • You can change the appearance of your eye line, eyebrows, lips, or hairline. These changes can be permanent or semi-permanent; the choice is yours.
  • Cosmetic tattooing can stand on its own, or it can be enhanced by non-permanent cosmetics.
  • Permanent cosmetics need not always be permanent. Some companies specialize in cosmetic tattooing that is semi-permanent – it lasts for about five years, then gradually fades away.

All in all, there are plenty of reasons why cosmetic tattooing can make practical sense.


Permanent cosmetics

Permanent eyebrow tattoo in the make


The Risks and Cons of Permanent Makeup

Permanent makeup is not for every woman (or man) though. Besides benefits, permanent makeup has its cons and some risks:

  • If you only wear makeup some of the time then cosmetic tattooing obviously isn't your thing.
  • The same applies if you like to experiment with a lot of different colors and styles.
  • The most obvious risk when getting a cosmetic tattoo is that you may not like it ten years down the road. Due to the aging process and natural elasticity of you skin, something that looks great now may not look so great when you are older. For this reason, it is important to consider the area to be tattooed. Try to avoid areas that are likely to wrinkle, stretch, or be exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time. Tattoo removal can lead to scarring and pain.
  • There's also the risk that the cosmetic tattoo artist who applied your permanent makeup wasn't skilled enough and did a bad job. The most often heard complaints are "wrong color", "too dark" or "too big". Most mistakes can be adjusted though.
  • A common risk that is easily avoided is infection. Make sure that your cosmetic tattoo artist is licensed and uses sterile equipment. Reusing ink or needles is an easy way to spread infection. Your role in avoiding infection involves properly cleaning your new permanent makeup. Your recovery and healing time depend largely on how well your care for your tattoo site and yourself.
  • Although rare, allergic reactions are often an overlooked risk. Be aware of any skin allergies you may have. Anytime you put something unnatural into your body, there is always a chance of the body rejecting the substance as foreign. This could lead to keloid formations or granulomas.


Permanent lipstick

Permanent lipstick being

Don’t be scared off though, by some extreme examples of eyebrow tattoos or other cosmetic tattooing you might have seen in decades past. In the 1950s and 60s, permanent makeup or cosmetic tattooing (like cosmetics in general) tended to be rather dark and obvious-looking.

Nowadays, techniques as well as styles have improved. For example, permanent lipstick tattooing at a reputable studio is subtle and natural looking. By itself, it makes you look like you have naturally rosy lips. You can also enhance the lipstick tattooing by adding another shade of lipstick or a clear or tinted gloss over top.

You will need to determine whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks when making your decision. Do the research to find a highly qualified cosmetic tattoo artist who is licensed and certified with plenty of experience and good reviews not only from customers but from medical practitioners as well. Make sure that he or she has liability insurance. When having your initial consultation, be up front and honest about any medical conditions that may have an effect on your tattoo. This will ensure not only safety but quality results as well. When getting permanent makeup, price should not be one of the primary factors. Your body has to last you the rest of your life so don't sacrifice quality to save a few bucks.


Eyebrow Tattoos

An eyebrow tattoo used to be a rather dramatic affair – usually a thin, arched, line – because that’s how women wanted it. Nowadays styles have changed, and eyebrow tattoos and other permanent eye makeup are softer and more natural. They can enhance or subtly reshape your natural brow line.

Why would you need eyebrow tattoos?

  • You have alopecia or had chemotherapy and you lost your hair.
  • There's a gap or scar in one of your eyebrows where the hair doesn't grow anymore.
  • You over plucked the hairs of your eyebrow.
  • You want to enhance your eyebrows and give them a more definite shape.

The woman in the following picture has permanent eyebrows and permanent eyeliner on the upper eye lid. The eyebrow tattoo is done with the "powdery fill" technique. She didn't need the hairlines tattooed because she still has her natural eyebrow hair. The eyebrow tattoo is done for shaping purposes and enhancement. The permanent eyeliner is done to add some definition to the eye.

Eyebrow tattoo


How is an eyebrow tattoo done? Permanent eye makeup is applied in much the same manner as a traditional tattoo. First your aesthetician draws in the shape with a normal brow pencil, to see if you like the shape and eyebrow tint. Then a topical analgesic numbs your skin before the hollow needle carries the ink to the middle layer of your skin. There may be mild discomfort or a temporary stinging sensation, but typically there is little pain involved. If you carefully follow the instructions you are given for caring for the site, you should heal quickly and not experience any difficulties or pain.

Another method is called "tapping". This method is applied manual, without electricity. A needle is used to softly penetrate the dermis. This method may seem simple, but it may only be done by trained professionals. Don't go looking for permanent makeup supplies and try it out yourself.

How much do eyebrow tattoos cost? Hard to say because it differs from place to place and depends on the technique that you need. Be prepared to pay at least $300 and it can go to $600 or more.

What about eyebrow tattoo removal? Eyebrow tattoos are removed with a laser in pretty much the same way as normal tattoos are removed. There's a risk that the laser damages your hair follicles, which results in loss of eyebrows and/or eye lashes. The price of laser tattoo removal is also pretty high.

Tip: if your eyebrow tattoo came out too dark or heavy, get your eyebrow hairs lightened at your local beauty parlor. It can be that the tattoo + your eyebrows is simply too much.

So, if you do use makeup on a regular basis, consider eye tattoos, permanent lipstick tattooing, or other types of permanent cosmetics, but be aware of the risks and make sure it is what you really want. Like medical tattooing, cosmetic tattooing is yet another modern use for a very ancient art.


Medical Tattoos

Permanent makeup tattooing is a vital part of reconstructive surgery. In these instances, tattooing is used to simulate natural pigmentation of the skin. Here are some examples of medical tattoos:

  • During breast reconstruction, it can be used to recreate an areola, thereby enhancing one's feeling of feminization.
  • Someone who has lost his or her eyebrows due to alopecia (a form of hair loss) or chemotherapy, may opt to have natural-looking permanent eyebrows or eyebrow tint tattooed on.
  • Similarly, people with vitiligo, which is a lack of pigmentation in certain areas of the skin, may use tattooing to help even out the skin tone in the affected areas.
  • Some medical procedures require a permanent mark, for example radiation therapy for cancer.
  • The treatment of scars is another medical area that makes use of tattoos. Scar tissue has no color pigments. By the use of tattoo inks color can be added to scars.
  • Tummy tuck tattoos: tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a procedure in cosmetic surgery used to make the abdomen thinner by removing fat and skin. Sometimes tattoos are used to cover up the scars of the tummy tuck.

Regardless of the reason for choosing permanent makeup, you must be aware of both the risks and benefits in order to make the most informed decision.

 More about Medical Tattoos