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10 things you should know about permanent makeup

Judith’s question: I’ve recently seen some posters in various nail shops/spas advertising permanent makeup. What exactly is permanent makeup? Is it a tattoo? Is it safe?


Sarah Bellum says:

I thought “permanent makeup” was just another one of those made up marketing terms that doesn’t really mean anything – like “world peace.” But it turns out permanent makeup really is pretty much…well, permanent. I was so intrigued by the idea that I told Lefty and Righty I’d write up something on the subject. So, here’s my list of what you should know about permanent make up:

1. Tattoo you

Permanent makeup (PM for short) really is a type of tattoo. But instead of a butterfly or a skull head, the tattoo artist draws on your make up. The process is also referred to as dermapigmentation, micropigmentation, and cosmetic tattooing.

2. Up with make up

Most common types of PM are eyebrow enhancement, eyelining, and adding color to face and fullness to lips. The process can also be used to improve the appearance of skin around the nipple after breast surgery.

3. Lovely lashes

PM can also be used as an alternative to mascara, to darken eyelashes. (Hey Left Brain, do ya think this stuff is better than Jan Marini??) Of course it has to be redone when lashes fall out.

4. Popularity contest

Popular reasons for getting PM include creating artificial eyebrows because of old age, disease (like alopecia), chemotherapy, to disguise skin imperfections. Some women get it just for convenience – imagine, never having to put on eyeliner or lip liner again! (Of course, also imagine never being able to change your make up again. Hmmm.)

5. Who should get PM

Women have trouble applying makeup, like those who are near-sighted or don’t have steady hands. Women on the go, or athletes. (Aren’t we all “on the go?”) Or, women who are allergic to make up (but not to tattoo dyes, see #6 below). Also count in women who are lazy.

6. Dangerous dyes

The safety of permanent makeup is not totally resolved. The FDA historically has not regulated tattoo inks but they’re keeping an eye on them as they become more popular. The main dangers associated with permanent make up (or any tattoo for that matter) include Infection, removal problems, allergic reactions, granulomas (nodules that can form around ink particles) and Keloid scar formation. Some sources say tattoos can cause problems during MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) procedures (a medical diagnostic test).

7. Techno colors

The FDA also points out that some of the dyes using in tattoo inks are not approved for skin contact at all. Some are industrial grade colors that are suitable for printers’ ink or automobile paint. That’s the bad news. The good news is your eyeliner can now match your new Kia.

8. I fought the law

The actual practice of tattooing is regulated by local jurisdictions, so your local tattoo parlor is completely safe. The popular conception of all tattoo artists as overweight, stringy-haired head bangers is only partially true.

9. Dedication

There’s actually an entire organization dedicated to this craft. They call themselves the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals and they even have their own acronym. (Yay SPCP!)

10. Permanent is pricey

The cost of a permanent makeup procedure averages between $400-$800. That’s a lot of tubes of eyeliner!

(Don’t like what you read here? Don’t blame me, check out my sources here and here.)

What do you think, Brainiacs? Would you ever have makeup permanently applied to your face? Thanks for sharing with the rest of the Beauty Brains community!