Permanent Makeup

Woman receives permanent color to her lips.
Permanent makeup is a tattoo that makes you look like you're wearing makeup. Get great tips from our makeup tips pictures.
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In today's fast-paced world, it seems like people will do anything to save time. Drive-throughs are now found at your local pharmacy, and there's no need to write checks when there's automatic bill pay -- people like things fast and easy. It's no wonder then that many people choose to speed up their morning regimen by getting permanent makeup. The idea of permanent makeup may sound strange, but it's just one of many ways people choose to make routine tasks quicker [source: WebMD].

Permanent makeup is essentially a tattoo that makes you appear as if you're always wearing makeup. In fact, the procedure is much like that of getting a tattoo -- the technician applies the pigment with a needle, and eventually you may have to return for touch-up visits. During the consultation, you can select the shades of your permanent makeup, and the technician will sketch the areas on your skin to be pigmented. Permanent makeup technicians use a hollow needle that releases color into a hole in your skin. Although pigment is applied to the top layer of skin only, the procedure may still sting -- just like it does when you get a tattoo. It takes about three weeks for the pigment to fade to the color you selected.


Permanent makeup is also called micropigmentation or permanent cosmetics. The art of permanent makeup has become a specialized service within both the tattoo community and the cosmetic industry, and the field is growing as more technicians become available to treat a growing number of clients [source: Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals].

If you're thinking about getting permanent makeup applied, take some time to consider the benefits and the possible complications. While permanent makeup may save you time and energy each morning, there are some medical problems associated with it. Furthermore, you may not always want to wear black eyeliner -- and tattoo removal can be difficult. Read on to learn more about this growing practice, its benefits and its drawbacks.


Benefits of Permanent Makeup

The most obvious benefit of permanent makeup is that it can simply save you time. People with busy schedules, long commutes and numerous commitments can several minutes out of their morning routine each day. And you never have to worry about your makeup smudging or fading -- permanent makeup won't come off after swimming, working out or showering. But there are many reasons for someone to get permanent makeup beyond the timesaving benefits.

People with physical disabilities or impaired motor skills, such as arthritis, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis, may want permanent makeup because it's difficult for them to apply makeup themselves [source: Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals]. With permanent makeup, they can continue to wear makeup without having to worry about whether they've applied it accurately. People with poor eyesight may invest in permanent makeup for the same reasons.


There are also cosmetic reasons why people use permanent makeup. After reconstructive surgery, especially of the face or breasts, permanent makeup can help return the skin's appearance to normal if pigment was lost during surgery. In fact, some people choose to undergo permanent makeup procedures to improve the results of cosmetics breast surgery [source: Hess Plastic Surgery]. People with hair loss conditions that cause them to lose their eyebrows may invest in permanent eyebrow tattoos, whereas people with lip scars can use permanent lipstick to hide the unsightly marks. Permanent makeup can also benefit people with cosmetic allergies or those with pigmentation conditions like vitiligo, which causes the appearance of irregular white patches on the skin.

While permanent makeup certainly has its benefits, it also has several drawbacks. Keep reading to learn more.


Problems with Permanent Makeup

The problems associated with permanent makeup are mostly the same as those associated with tattoos. There are about 50 different pigments used in tattoos and permanent makeup, but even if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved some of the shades for cosmetic use, they're not always safe for injection into the skin. In fact, the FDA has received more than 150 complaints of negative reactions to some of the shades of ink used in permanent makeup [source: FDA].

Even though allergic reactions are rare, they're difficult to treat because it's hard to remove pigment from the skin once it's been injected. There are also skin issues that can result from tattoos or permanent makeup. You can develop a keloid formation, in which scars grow beyond their natural boundaries, or granulomas, nodules that form around the pigment. Hepatitis and staph infections can be transmitted through unsanitary needle use, so make sure a licensed technician who uses sterile equipment treats you.


One important nonmedical issue is that people change and so do their tastes -- although permanent makeup may seem like a good idea now, you may regret the decision in the future. The popularity of tattoos and the subsequent need for better removal procedures has led to new advances in laser surgery, dermabrasion and surgical removal, but pigment removal is difficult and time-consuming, and it often leaves scars [source: Mayo Clinic].

If you're considering getting permanent makeup, you probably want to know what you can do. Are you limited to some eyeliner, or can you have permanently red lips? And will permanent makeup be just as effective as your concealer and foundation? Keep reading to find out.


Types of Permanent Makeup

The most common areas for people to get permanent makeup are the eyebrows, lips, cheeks and eyelids. Eyebrows are a common area for permanent makeup application because hair loss conditions and aging can cause people to lose the hair above their eyes. Applying eyebrows each day can be a hassle, and they can easily smudge. Procedures for eyebrows can range from a few strokes of pigment where hair is missing to fully coloring in the missing brow.

Permanent eyeliner is a popular procedure because putting on eyeliner can be difficult without a steady hand, and it often smudges or wears off during the day. Technicians can lightly apply permanent eyeliner to give you a very subtle look, or they can apply it thicker to give you a more dramatic, defined line around your entire eye.


People with dry lips, lips with little definition, or those who simply want more color in their lips are good candidates for permanent lip makeup. Permanent lipliner can provide a good base for lipstick and make lips appear more distinct.

Although it's less common than the other permanent makeup procedures, some patients choose permanent blush to give their cheeks a perpetual healthy glow. However, this procedure doesn't work well on people who spend a lot of time in the sun -- ultraviolet rays can interact with the pigmentation to make the skin look unnatural [source: Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals].

No matter what permanent makeup procedure you select, you'll probably need to see your permanent makeup artist for a touch-up within six weeks of application. Keep reading to learn more about these technicians.


Permanent Makeup Artists

Within both the tattoo artist community and the cosmetic professional community, permanent makeup artists have become a specialized sect. They typically take classes on permanent makeup application that primarily focus on permanent eyebrow, eyeliner and lip makeup, but before they can become licensed, they must work under a qualified instructor to learn advanced techniques. If you're looking for a permanent makeup instructor, the American Academy of Micropigmentation maintains a database of qualified teachers with permanent makeup technician certifications [source: American Academy of Micropigmentation].

Permanent makeup artists offer a consultation, application and touch-up for each treatment, and they typically charge about $400 to $800 for a procedure. Application usually takes one to two and a half hours [source: Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals].


For more information on permanent makeup, see the links on the following page.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Tattoos, body piercings, and other skin adornments." (Accessed 08/12/09)
  • American Academy of Micropigmentation. "Homepage." (Accessed 08/12/09)
  • Food and Drug Administration. "Tattoos and Permanent Makeup." June 23, 2008. (Accessed 08/11/09)
  • Food and Drug Administration. "Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe?" February 23, 2009. (Accessed 08/11/09)
  • Hess Plastic Surgery. "Nipple Reconstruction." (Accessed 08/12/09)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Granuloma Annulare." July 29, 2008. (Accessed 08/12/09)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Tattoos: Risks and Precautions to Know First." February 16, 2008. (Accessed 08/12/09)
  • The Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals. "Are Permanent Cosmetics for You?" (Accessed 08/12/09)
  • The Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals. "Homepage." (Accessed 08/12/09)
  • The Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals. "Is a Career in Permanent Cosmetics for Me?" (Accessed 08/12/09)
  • WebMD. "Permanent Makeup: Cosmetic Tattooing." July 1, 2005. (Accessed 08/12/09)
  • WebMD. "Vitiligo and Loss of Skin Color." February 28, 2008. (Accessed 08/13/09)