It is the age-old quandary. We want to look more beautiful, more radiant and more put together but we have less and less time. We strive to find a beauty routine that will leave us looking like the best version of ourselves without eating into our precious day. Whether you have physical limitations that make traditional cosmetic application a challenge or you simply don’t have the time or energy to commit to a lengthy daily application process, a tempting alternative beckons.
That tempting alternative? Permanent Makeup. Permanent makeup promises to reduce the time spent touching up while delivering high-impact and consistent results. It allows you to skip a step and wake up looking as fresh and glowing as you did when you went to sleep. Whether you’ve been on the fence about committing to permanent makeup, or you’ve never even considered it, we want to discuss the procedure in more depth. We want to provide you with insight into the benefits and drawbacks of the application process so that you can decide if it makes sense for you and your life.
What Exactly is Permanent Makeup?
Permanent makeup, also known as micropigmentation, is a cosmetic technique and medical procedure that is designed to mimic fresh and impeccably applied makeup. Permanent makeup is most commonly used to create the appearance of eyeliner, eyebrow gel, and lipliner.
Permanent makeup fulfills a variety of different objectives. While it has traditionally been used to mimic freshly applied makeup this is by no means the limits of what it is capable of. A more light-handed application can create an end result that looks flawlessly natural – but better. Think rosier lips, blacker eyelashes, and more pronounced and well-arched brows. If requested, permanent makeup can be applied so as to be hardly perceptible. This enables you to look like a more radiant version of yourself without turning heads or eliciting stares.
Permanent makeup can improve your confidence and boost your sense of self-worth. It can be a savior for women who struggle with makeup application due to physical limitations or for women who are allergic to more traditional makeup formulas. It is not without its risks, however, which we will explore in further depth below.
Putting Aside Misconceptions
Unlike the permanent makeup of years past the new generation of treatments delivers high quality and like-natural results. If you associate permanent makeup with scary clown eyebrows or overdone lip liner, we understand. In its cruder forms, permanent makeup can look garish and unbecoming but the increased specialization of the application procedure in recent years has led to more refined and polished results.
Many women struggle to let go of the misconception that permanent makeup is not practical for every day, natural wear. This misconception would have us believe that permanent makeup is more suited for the stage than for the boardroom or the Sunday lunch get-together. If you find a well-reputed technician, however, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Permanent makeup is not an unrealistic or high maintenance option and can, in fact, be very practical for even the most laidback of women.
Asking Yourself the Right Questions
Innovative as it is, permanent makeup is not suitable for every woman. Before committing to a treatment, you must be honest with yourself. This transparency will allow you to approach the treatment with an open mind and a practical understanding of your expectations.
What is motivating your interest in permanent makeup? Will it improve your lifestyle and increase your sense of well-being? Is it a cost-effective and fiscally appropriate option? Will it provide tangible relief from the physical reality of applying makeup? Instead of jumping on the bandwagon give pause and think about how the treatment will improve your life and appearance.
An important consideration to keep in mind is whether you are getting a makeup look that will stand the test of time, as it were, or one that is more of the moment. In an interview with Cleveland Clinic, Cosmetic dermatologist Shilpi Khetarpal warned against choosing ‘trendy’ looks like thick eyebrows or full, over-lined lips. While these styles may reflect the beauty standard of today these trends are transient and could fall out of favor in a few years time. You want permanent makeup to be natural and subtle.
How Does Permanent Makeup Work?
Permanent makeup is not only a cosmetic procedure- it is a medical procedure that requires the hand of a licensed and trained professional. The procedure involves the use of a needle or pen that contains iron oxide pigments. The needle mimics the look of makeup by infusing pigment into the dermis. It is similar to a conventional tattoo procedure albeit significantly less painful!
While the technique does involve the use of ink it is more apt to call it semi-permanent makeup. Skin cells are constantly regenerating and being shed to form a new layer. What this means for your permanent makeup is that the ink will fade over time. It is common to return for a touch-up appointment every couple of years or so. The touch-up procedure is a relatively straightforward one and involves injecting more ink into the target area to enhance the shade and depth of the faded makeup.
The permanent makeup application takes anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours. Before the procedure your technician will numb the area of application with local anesthetic to prevent pain and discomfort. The procedure itself is not particularly painful.
An important disclaimer to keep in mind is that women on blood thinners are unable to undergo the procedure.
When it comes to the skin around your eyes and lips, a gentle hand is necessary. Most technicians will employ a variety of single and multi-prong needles as required to achieve the optimal results. Pigment is injected into the shallow layer beneath the epidermis, close to the upper dermis. A shallower injection allows the makeup to interact with the elements and fade with time, creating a more organic appearance.
A higher quality salon will have a range of specific pigments that are designed to perfectly color match a diversity of skin tones. Block style, sharpie-esque permanent eyebrows are a thing of the past. Most technicians will employ a hair stroke technique and will fill in your eyebrows with small individual strokes. This application technique creates a flawless brow and when done properly, can be hard to detect as permanent makeup.
Rather than applying a severe tattoo eyeliner, many technicians will implant pigment between the lashes and along the lash line to enhance the natural shape of the eye. This dose of subtle color plays up your eyes and helps create a radiant and wide-awake appearance. This technique allows for more customization for days when you want to appear more natural and understated. You can apply an additional coat of traditional makeup should you want a more dramatic evening look for special occasions.
When it comes to our lips, it is natural to lose that desirable youthful rosy color as we age. The aging process can produce a sallow and sunken lip appearance but with permanent makeup, this is easy to remedy. Filling in the lips with a color-matched shade of blush, rose, or mauve will refresh the tone and appearance of the lips. It also has the effect of making your lips look fuller and more pillowy. The key to achieving the best results is to stick with a color one to two shades darker than your base shade. Otherwise, your lips will look garish and overdone.
Finding the Right Technician
The key to getting ideal results is to do extensive research into the reputations of different salons and technicians. Your research should be results-driven rather than simply looking at the trendiest or most expensive technician in your area.
Look through the respective technician’s portfolios and ensure that they have a strong record of experience. Conduct a thorough examination of the online reviews. You want to choose a technician who has a well-established reputation built on many years of successful results.
When you are perusing a technicians portfolio pay attention to the quality and scope of the pictures. You want to look for photos of real women in natural light in a salon or home setting. If their portfolio is stocked with high quality glossies featuring heavily made-up and perfectly coiffed women, watch out! These are often stock photos found online or in magazines and dishonestly passed as the technicians work. You want to find a technician who can deliver real world results, sans photoshop. Watermarked photos are always an encouraging sign.
After your initial browse it is absolutely vital to ensure that your prospective salon has a permit and liability insurance. Don’t leave your health in the hands of an amateur. We always advocate visiting the salons in person to scope out the treatment room and general salon environment. Be on the lookout for a sterile, tidy, and organized salon. Even small indicators like a clean desk and reception area are insights into the salon owners’ pride in their work. Look for pre-packaged needles and a range of medical-grade sterilization and sanitation products. Inquire further about the products they use and ask for more detailed and comprehensive insights into the ink selection, sanitation standards, and procedure. Ask to see the treatment room and ask about their follow-up care plan. Can the technician confidently answer your questions? Are they forthcoming and patient? Look for these signs. You never want to find yourself in the hands of a technician who rushes through your concerns!
The Consultation Process
Whether you have chosen one technician who checks all of the boxes or you are trialing a few to find your perfect fit, you will undoubtedly begin your relationship with them with a consultation. A consultation is invaluable for gaining insight into the application procedure. It also allows you to be authentic and frank about your expectations. You can share pictures and examples of the desired outcome you are hoping to achieve. The technician will inform you of the realistic outcomes of the procedure so that you are on the same page. It is vital to be as frank and detailed as possible so that you don’t leave your treatment with any surprises.
Your technician will likely create a template or visual representation of the outcome of the application procedure. You will work together to choose the most appropriate shades and you can customize the thickness and concentration of the pigment. The consultation process allows you to take control of your desired look while still receiving expert feedback and guidance. Remember, your technician has years of experience and can provide tailored and personalized suggestions that you might not have otherwise considered.
Benefits of Permanent Makeup
There is minimal downtime when it comes to permanent makeup. Unlike more invasive cosmetic procedures it is uncommon to experience much discomfort or pain after your treatment. When all goes to plan you will usually have slight swelling and crusting for only three to five days.
Generally, your lips will be slightly swollen and your lash line will be a bit dry after the procedure. Be forewarned that the pigments of your permanent makeup will be darker and more vivid for the first week following the procedure but will naturally fade into the intended shade after this point.
Simply put, permanent makeup is convenient and time-saving. If you consider how much time you spend applying makeup a one-time procedure makes sense. It can save you hours over the course of a month and even more over the course of a year!
Permanent makeup has practical applications for your day to day life. Whether you are travelling, exercising, swimming, or running from place to place you will no longer have to worry about reapplying your makeup. This is especially useful for women who live active lifestyles. You can say goodbye to racoon eyes or stubborn waterproof eye makeup for good when you embrace permanent makeup.
The long-lasting results of permanent makeup are one of the most enticing benefits. The longevity of the procedure makes it cost effective as you will certainly get value from the one-time financial commitment.
Beneficial For Women with Special Physical Requirements
Cosmetic dermatologist Shilpi Khetarpal spoke with Cleveland Clinic and brought up this particularly compelling benefit of permanent makeup. She clarified that the procedure can be immensely beneficial for women with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or any condition that precludes the easy application of makeup. Permanent makeup allows these women to look radiant and put together without the physical requirements of applying conventional makeup. This also makes permanent makeup a wonderful choice for women who suffer from alopecia or who are undergoing chemotherapy, both of which can cause hair loss. Permanent makeup can enable you to fake the appearance of natural, full brows and can be a line of defense against the appearance of eyelash loss.
Renewed Self Confidence
Permanent makeup can renew a woman’s sense of self-confidence and can provide valuable relief from an arduous makeup application routine. This is related to the above point but it certainly bears repeating. Permanent makeup can enable women to feel beautiful and put together every day regardless of their physical abilities. Whether they are constantly on the go or are experiencing health concerns that make cosmetic application challenging, permanent makeup can help them feel like the best version of themselves again.
A Solution for Women who Suffer from Makeup Allergies
Many women suffer from allergies to conventional makeup products. They may find that their eyes become dry and irritated by eyeliner and mascara or that their skin becomes flaky and dry from eyebrow gel and pencils. Some women try product after product and get the same unpleasant results. Permanent makeup is a one-time solution that can help you say goodbye to irritated skin and negative cosmetic reactions.
Subtly Enhances Features
If you opt for a subtler application than you can reap the rewards of a naturally enhanced and refined eye or lip look. This is perfect for women who want to play up and define their natural features without looking overdone or dramatic in natural light. As we age makeup can settle into our fine lines and draw unflattering attention to them. Permanent makeup is smudge proof and will not bleed into crow’s feet or the lines around your lips. You can play up your features without worry!
Drawbacks of Permanent Makeup
Impacts Your Anti-Ageing Skin Care Routine
Permanent makeup is not without consequences to your daily makeup and skincare routine. In order to preserve the longevity of the makeup, you must pay close attention to the ingredients in your moisturizers and beauty products. Common, time-tested anti-aging compounds like vitamin C, retinol, and hydroquinone contribute to a rapid deterioration of the pigments and inks used in the permanent makeup procedure. These compounds will rev up the fading process and could shorten the lifespan of the makeup by as much as half.
Although it should come as no surprise removing permanent makeup presents challenges. It is time-consuming and expensive to remove if removal is possible at all. Putting aside the financial and temporal aspects of removal, it is also significantly more painful to remove than it is to apply.
While the procedure certainly makes sense for some women when they consider the amount of money they spend on conventional cosmetics, for many it is a huge financial commitment. If you are content with topping up your makeup throughout the year and you aren’t comfortable with the upfront initial cost than permanent makeup may not be a realistic solution.
Potentially Disappointing Results
While a frank and honest dialogue with your technician should provide you with realistic expectations of the procedure there is always a chance of being disappointed with the results. Whether the finished product is underwhelming or whether it is more severe than you had hoped, it is permanent. You must now work around it and adapt your makeup routine to your new, unsatisfactory, permanent makeup.
It bears repeating that you must not rush the consultation process. Your technician wants you to be happy with the results. After all, their reputation is on the line! That being said, there is always a risk that you won’t be fully enamored with your new aesthetic.
Inherent Level of Risk
One of the drawbacks is the inherent level of risk associated with the procedure. Wherever a needle is involved there is a risk of infection. There is a small risk of developing a staph infection or even hepatitis if a needle has not been properly sterilized.
A complication could compromise your eye health by creating swelling, eyelid damage, eyelash loss, or bleeding. Permanent makeup pigments could also impact an MRI scan by warping the quality of the image produced from the scan.
An unexpected negative reaction is possible. One of the concerns is developing granulomas. Granulomas are nodules that can form around foreign materials like ink particles. They occur when the body has a bad reaction or becomes irritated by a foreign material. For women who are prone to scarring, or who have sensitive skin, keloid formation is a potential concern.
Additionally, while professional and reliable technicians will always sterilize their needles properly there is a chance that your body will react to the ink particles and become inflamed. A spot test near the ear should be conducted to gauge your body’s reaction to the ink. An allergic reaction to the ink is serious because removal can be extremely difficult, time-intensive, and painful.
Permanent makeup is a wonderful alternative to traditional cosmetics, but it is not without its risks. Permanent makeup is a particularly good solution for women who have physical or health limitations that make daily makeup application untenable or uncomfortable. It can revitalize the confidence of women who suffer from hair loss and can allow them to look their radiant best day in and day out.
Careful consideration, followed by a lengthy consultation process with your prospective technician, can yield satisfactory results that will help you feel your most polished and self-assured. Never rush the decision and ensure that you weigh the benefits and drawbacks with your technician so you can be armed with all the facts before committing.