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Surprising Truths About Permanent Makeup

Some tips to help you steer clear away of disaster.

Written by Kimberly Armstrong

As summertime approaches, the dream of having makeup that won't melt away in the sun, or wash off in the water, inspires many women to explore Permanent Cosmetic procedures. However, many are intimidated by the "permanency" of Permanent Makeup, or scared away by horror stories from friends who've had the treatments and were left with uneven eyebrows, crooked eyeliner or purple lips. Here's the truth about Permanent Makeup and some tips to help you steer clear of disaster.

Permanent Makeup is a tattoo: True

The lasting eyebrow, eyeliner, lip color and beauty mark procedures, called Permanent Makeup or Permanent Cosmetics, that help women look "made-up" at all times are created by implanting pigment just below the surface of the skin using needles, thereby qualifying the treatments as tattoos. Because of its lasting nature, Permanent Makeup appeals to women who camp, travel, swim, as well as those with allergies, unsteady hands, or poor eyesight. TIP: Tattooing has been linked to the spread of infectious disease, so be sure to find a technician who observes strict sterilization techniques or uses pre-packaged, sterile needles that are disposed of after the treatment. Additionally, blood donors should be aware that the Red Cross refuses donations from those who have had a tattoo within the past year.

Permanent Makeup is permanent: False

Just because Permanent Makeup is a tattoo does not ensure that it will last forever. In fact, it is extremely rare for someone to actually retain Permanent Makeup forever. Internal and external factors cause the pigment to fade slowly and evenly at different rates for different people. While body tattoos are covered a majority of the time with clothing, our faces are exposed to the sun nearly everyday: and just like the sun oxidizes the paint on a car, it diminishes the pigment on the thin skin of the face. Other factors that cause Permanent Makeup to fade include personal body chemistry, prescription medication, skin pigmentation and exposure to various elements. TIP: to preserve Permanent Makeup, protect the areas from the sun with a hat, sunglasses or sunscreen. Additionally, keep acid-based facial products, micro-dermabrasion treatments and facial peels away from Permanent Makeup.

Undesirable Permanent Makeup can be removed by lasers: True & False

Most of the companies that once promoted the successful laser removal of Permanent Makeup procedures are now refusing the work altogether, stating that unlike regular body tattoos, elements in some cosmetic tattoos make them nearly impossible to remove and sometimes even darken or worsen the original tattoo due to pigment migration. Tat2 Be Gone Medical Group in Costa Mesa ( offers Permanent Makeup laser tattoo removal on the eyebrows (they feel that eyeliner removal is too dangerous and the lips are too vascular), but only after a test patch has been conducted to determine if the pigment will be positively affected by the laser or not. TIP: Before getting a Permanent Makeup procedure, keep in mind that you may be one of the few who keeps the pigment for a very long time. Be sure to seek out a technician with an eye for design and color. Ask to see before and after photos, as well as references.

The procedures are very painful: True & False

While pain thresholds vary from person to person, for the most part, clients typically describe Permanent Makeup procedures as annoying. Some technicians use topical anesthesia during their procedures, but be aware that many will use inexpensive grades that do not offer much in the way of pain relief. The method used to implant the pigment also impacts the level of discomfort felt by the client. TIP: To minimize the discomfort of Permanent Makeup procedures, look for a technician who uses the highest-grade anesthesia available in conjunction with a digital machine (known for its precision in quickly implanting pigment). You may also consider obtaining prescription pain medication from your doctor prior to your treatment if you are extremely sensitive or concerned about the pain.

Permanent Makeup technicians must be certified: False

The tattoo industry is not regulated in the state of California and there is no license required to perform work. This means that anyone can order a "training" video from the Internet and start doing Permanent Makeup right out of their living room! A technician's experience should be a very important part of your decision process. TIP: Seek out a technician who has voluntarily registered with the health department and has received extensive formal training from a school whose founder has been involved with Permanent Makeup for many years. Ask to observe a procedure and note how confident the technician is and how he/she interacts with the client.

Article Reviewed: August 1, 2012
Copyright © 2015 Healthy Magazine

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