Permanent makeup, or cosmetic tattooing, is a fast-growing part of the health and beauty industry.
If you have faint eyebrows, no eyebrows, or partial eyebrows, a cosmetic tattoo can help. A lip tattoo can reduce "lipstick bleed," and give definition to the lip line. With a colored lip tattoo, lip scars disappear, plus you can kiss lipstick good-bye. After an eyeliner tattoo, you can put away your eye pencils for several years.
Cosmetic tattooing also has more serious applications, such as improving the appearance of a nipple after breast surgery.
- Check your tattoo artist's credentials carefully.
- Ask to speak with former clients.
- Ask to see before-and-after photographs.
To avoid infections and ensure professional results, it is important to work with a licensed aesthetician, ideally one recommended by a cosmetic surgeon.
Make sure the aesthetician uses sterile gloves and sterilized equipment.
How Permanent Makeup Is Done
The process is just like getting a tattoo. The person applying permanent makeup uses a needle that penetrates your skin and releases pigment.
Proper sterilization, techniques, and licensing are key.
Getting Permanent Makeup
Before getting permanent makeup applied, you'll get a patch test on your skin to check on whether you have an allergic reaction to the pigment that will be used.
After that, you will choose the color, based on advice and suggestions from the makeup artist. The technician will then use a sterile surgical pen to sketch the area to be tattooed and then put an anesthetic gel on your skin.
Using a hollow, vibrating needle, the technician will apply the pigment into the top layer of the skin. Each time the needle penetrates the skin, a droplet of pigment is released into the hole the needle makes. You will feel a slight stinging.
After getting permanent makeup, it takes about three weeks for the color to fade to its permanent shade.
At first, the color will likely look dark and shiny, and the surrounding tissue will be swollen and red.
You can use a cold compress to reduce swelling and antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection.
Strict sun avoidance and use of sunscreens that block the entire ultraviolet light A and B spectrum for several weeks is important to prevent post-inflammatory color changes.
Complications are rare but can include infection or allergic reactions to the tattoo dye.
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Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on July 28, 2014
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