Permanent Makeup Gone Good

Considering permanent cosmetics? Read this first! Valley permanent makeup experts give us practical advice on this popular procedure.

You’ve likely seen the bad side of permanent cosmetics: lopsided lips, overly dark eyebrows and even worse, red and bumpy reactions to improper application of permanent eyeliner (Ewww!). But we’ve also seen some downright amazing transformations from the hands of talented permanent makeup artists. So what are the risks and how do you avoid permanent makeup gone bad? We asked certified permanent cosmetic experts, Denise Hurley of Denise Hurley Aesthetics and Cresent Gibbons of My Permanent Makeup AZ, for their insights.

What is Permanent Makeup?

By definition, permanent makeup is the art of implanting pigment beneath the skin precisely and consistently, like a tattoo.

The manual method of permanent makeup application is performed using a pen that is guided by a technician. A wide variety of machines are available to permanent makeup artists, from traditional tattoo guns to newer, lighter weight machines. Both manual and mechanical techniques deposit pigment into the dermal skin layer.

In most cases, topical anesthetic ointments help to minimize any pain or discomfort, but pain levels will vary by person. Most permanent makeup clients report mild discomfort and most can go back to work after the procedure although some swelling can occur with lip and eyeliner. The color will look 20 to 30 percent stronger over the first few days than it will after fully healing, usually in four to six days.

Permanent Makeup Procedures

Permanent cosmetic services typically offered are eyeliner, eyebrows, lips, blush and camouflage. According to permanent makeup expert Denise Hurley, the most common procedure is permanent eyebrows because many women over-tweeze their brows. Denise says that it’s important to spend time with her clients before the procedure, looking in a mirror at their brows and understanding exactly what shape and color they are hoping to achieve.

The most challenging procedure is typically lips. Denise has had many clients who come in with an uneven lip line, very small lips or uneven lip color. Color on the lips fades faster because of the type of skin, so it’s vital for the technician to work within certain limits to correct that.

Risks of Permanent Makeup

Permanent cosmetic artist Cresent Gibbons believes that permanent makeup procedures are safe and have limited risk, as long the procedure is performed by an experienced, licensed technician. Cresent uses glycerin-based ink to avoid problems and all of her tools are autoclaved sterilized or are disposable when possible.

Primary complications that can results from tattooing include:

  • Infection. If needles are not sterile or become contaminated, infection can occur. You should always make sure that the artist opens the needles in front of you; if the needle and casings aren’t sealed that means they are likely not sterilized. Also, ask to look at the packaging of the needles; an expiration date will be listed (they are only sterile and safe to use for four months after purchase). All supplies except the tattoo gun and the ink should be brand new and disposable.
  • Allergic reactions. Although allergic reaction to tattoo pigments are rare, you should consider a “test patch” a few days before the procedure. Expect to pay for supplies for the test since the artist will have to use new sterile supplies twice. Your artist should have you fill out paperwork and at this time, you should confirm that the artist has insurance.
  • Granulomas. These are nodules that may form around materials that the body perceives as foreign, such as a particle of tattoo pigment. This allergic reaction is most common around red pigment (derived from mercury). The best way to avoid granulomas is to do a test patch a few days or even weeks before your full procedure.
  • MRI Complications. There have been reports of people with tattoos or permanent makeup who experience swelling or burning in the affected areas when they underwent an MRI; again, this is rare because the pigments used should be free of iron oxide in order to be safe for MRIs or CT scans.

Permanent Cosmetic Myths

According to Cresent, the permanent makeup biz is plagued by misconceptions. The biggie is that many people assume that it will look fake. She says that most of these “bad jobs” have happened to people who ended up in the hands of an inexperienced technician. Correcting poorly done permanent makeup is one of her specialties, and unfortunately, something she does frequently for new clients. Her advice in avoiding permanent makeup disasters is to do your homework and find an experienced, certified artist. She estimates that only about 30 percent of artists are certified. Currently, certification is not required in Arizona.

Another misconception is that as you age, your skin will droop and sag, and so will your permanent makeup.

“That myth is one of my favorites!” she says. “Tattooed makeup is no different than regular makeup. It stays with your features, no matter where your features may gravitate.”

Time and Cost

The time involved will vary by procedure and from artist to artist but typically, it’s about 20 minutes per eyebrow and 30 minutes for upper eyelids or lower eyelids. Lip liner takes about 45 minutes and full lip color takes up to an hour and a half — not including the pre-procedure consultation.

Depending on the procedure, costs range from $150 to $800 and up.  Eyeliner is in the $400 range, brows and lip liner typically start at $375 and full lips are in the $550 to $600 range. Touch-ups and camouflage start on average at $80.

One caveat: Although these procedures are referred to as permanent, touch-ups may be required over time. Tattooed makeup should last three to five years if the proper ink is used and if the client follows after-care instructions. Most people will need touch-ups every one to three years.

Are Permanent Cosmetics for You?

So are you a good candidate for permanent makeup? Cresent says that the ideal candidate is someone who wants to wake up every day with makeup — usually people who are always on the go and have a busy lifestyle. It’s also a good option for people with disabilities or with shaky hands who cannot apply their own makeup every day. Because it won’t come off during a vigorous workout, permanent makeup is also great for fitness fanatics.  It is not recommended for people with blood clotting issues, diabetes, epilepsy or who are currently pregnant.

When it comes to deciding which procedure is right for you, Denise recommends that you go in for a consultation and talk about any procedures that you may be interested in, but always focus on one at a time.

“The client needs to make the final decision as to what procedure they are comfortable starting with,” Denise says. “I’m not a hard sell, I always give recommendations but I let the client make the decision about what they want, and what their pocketbook can handle.”

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