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  • Nancy Russ

What is Permanent Cosmetic? What You Need To Know.




Permanent Cosmetic, also known as Permanent Makeup, Micropigmentation, Dermagraphics, Micropigment Implantation are tattoo techniques. Micbroblading IS a tattoo technique also. There are many names for the various "techniques" to implant pigment, it's ALL tattoo.


What's the process? The process includes a consultation to evaluate the canvas (skin of the client), health intake form to determine if the client is able to receive this procedure, determine shape and color, the application of pigment, and at least one or more follow up visits for evaluating the healed design work and color of the pigment.


Why would you benefit from permanent cosmetic? People who meet minimum age requirements and have the ability to heal properly from minor wounds can benefit from the liberating benefits of permanent cosmetics. Interest in this service spans the young to the more mature; those who desire a soft, natural enhancement to their appearance. It is especially valuable to people who can’t wear traditional cosmetics due to allergies and skin sensitivities; active people who want to look their best for sports activities such as swimming, hiking, biking, tennis, aerobics; and those who don’t want to worry about “sweating off” or reapplying cosmetics. Permanent Cosmetics also benefits the vision challenged who have difficulty applying their cosmetics; and others with dexterity related conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke survivors, and busy people who don’t have time to spend applying and refreshing makeup throughout the day and evening.


What type of procedures are done? Permanent Cosmetic procedures can be very subtle or dramatic depending on what you are looking for. Options include:


  • Eyebrows

  • Eyeliner, Top and Bottom

  • Lipliner, Lip Color, and Blend

  • Scar Camouflage, Beauty Marks, Hair imitation, Lash Enhancement, and Areola Repigmentation

NOTE: Some of these procedures use more advanced techniques (para-medical techniques) and thus require an experienced technician with advanced training.


Is it safe? If proper sterilization and disinfection guidelines are met, permanent cosmetics should be completely safe. Professionals in the permanent cosmetic industry routinely attend Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) classes to become well versed on safety principals. These guidelines include, but are not limited to the following important things to look for:


  1. All Needles should be new and sterile for each client. Unopened new and sterile needles should be opened in your presence.

  2. Disposable sterilized one-time use machine parts should be purchased by the artist, and disposed of in a sharps container immediately after the procedure has been completed.

  3. Personal protection equipment such as disposable one-time use aprons and gloves should be new for each client and changed during the procedure when needed.

  4. The technician should be clean and neat.

  5. Disposable one-time use chair/bed covering should be new for each client.

  6. The room or treatment area should be in an area free from other contaminants. Permanent cosmetic procedures should not be conducted in salons where nail dust, aerosols or other chemicals are present.


Is it painful? Most people experience some discomfort. This will vary according to each individual’s pain threshold. There are different methods available, however, to help with discomfort management, including various topical anesthetics that are specifically developed for the permanent cosmetic industry. Traditional tattoo professionals do not use any anesthetics for their tattoo procedures. Anesthetics for permanent cosmetics are more of a tattoo service luxury because of the nature of the tattoo location and the fact that permanent cosmetics falls into the beauty treatment category.


How long does each procedure take? The initial procedure will generally take approximately two to three hours; there are records to establish; photographs to take; desired design and color to discuss; the procedure to perform; and the aftercare requirements to discuss. Follow up or color refresher procedures usually do not require the same amount of time.


Are permanent cosmetics really permanent? Permanent cosmetics procedures are considered permanent because pigment is tattooed into the upper reticular part of the dermal layer of the skin and cannot be washed off. However, as with any tattoo or colorant (pigment) in general, fading can and often does occur, requiring periodic maintenance referred to as color re-enhancement or color refreshing. This colorant periodic maintenance requirement is a good opportunity to reevaluate one’s color and design preferences. Most people will require periodic color refreshing of their permanent cosmetics is the opportune time to work with your technician to reevaluate your overall appearance profile and determine if any changes are appropriate. Longevity varies from person to person depending on their life style (sun exposure), the color(s) used for the permanent cosmetic procedure, and are also thought to be affected by topical products applied to the skin.


How much does permanent makeup cost? The average cost per procedure varies but usually averages between $400-$800. Advanced work may be charged at $150 to $250 per hour. Many of these procedures are commonly referred to as para-medical procedures. The cost of the procedure should not be the most important issue when consulting a potential permanent cosmetic professional. Most important is the training and skill of the person performing the procedure and the confidence of the client in that skill.


What if I don't like it? Although the procedure is considered permanent, these procedures do have flexibility in changing color and shape to some extent, depending on the expertise of your technician. Colors will appear darker immediately following the procedure but will soften and lighten during the healing process. The healing time is different for each individual and procedure. It’s very important to realize that often the new procedure represents something somewhat different; at times color where there was no color at all or very little. It takes time to become acclimated to a new look (very often this applies to eyebrows which were sparse and unnoticeable before the permanent cosmetic brow procedure.) Eyeliner color is more evident due to the contrast to the skin color. Lip color can take up to six weeks to reflect the final color. Be patient, trust the process. After the procedure has healed, and you are able to make an informed decision about the healed version of the procedure, the only reason you should not like your permanent cosmetics is if you chose a technician who did not work with you on design and color. How could this happen? If you cannot communicate with your technician, it is possible your desires will not be realized.

  1. If your technician recognizes your requests, but does not take your desires for color or design into account, you should not proceed with the procedure.

  2. Don’t request eyebrow color based on your tinted scalp hair color. That is subject to change and it may affect how you then feel about the color of your permanent cosmetic eyebrows. Eyebrow color should be selected based on your skin undertone and the color of your eyebrow hair (if any.)

  3. Conversely, most well-trained technicians will not perform a procedure if the design and/or color requested by the client is not reasonable. If your requests are turned down by one or more technicians, re-think what you are asking for.

  4. Permanent cosmetics are not easily removed. Make good decisions up front. You can enjoy the liberation permanent cosmetics provides when you do your research and choose a qualified professional that you work well with.

Which technician should I choose? Choose a technician carefully by considering training, experience, compliance with state and local laws, and the technician’s before and after photograph portfolio. It is important to remember that the shape and proper placement of the procedure is as important as the right color. Professionals have studied color theory and skin undertones which results in the color requested. Unskilled people who have not pursued the required education do not have the knowledge required to translate pigment color to skin to achieve the desired outcome. The preferred look is obtained during the course of consultation, initial procedure and follow-up appointment(s). Interaction between the client and the technician is of utmost importance.


Are there any side effects during or after the procedure? While eyebrows may show little after effect, eyeliner and lips may show slight to moderate swelling. This is very dependent upon the amount of work performed. As examples; an eyelash enhancement will show very little response to the tattooing procedure compared to a more moderate response when wide eyeliner is performed. The same philosophy applies to lip color procedures. A lip liner or blended lip liner will show less effects of the procedure than that of a full lip color. Also, some people swell more from minor skin infractions than others. During the procedure there may be some minor bleeding. This again, is client specific. Many people take blood thinners on a daily basis so some slight bleeding would be expected. Others show little or no signs of bleeding. Bruising is rare but again, if a person is on blood thinners, bruising could occur. What is seen more often is that eyebrows rarely if ever produce any bruising; minor bruising during eyeliner procedures is possible if the skin being tattooed is very thin and close to the vascular system. This also applies to lip procedures in the event the client is more mature. If bruising does occur, typically it is minor and subsides in a few days. There is usually some tenderness for a few days. The color is much darker than you may expect for the first six to ten days.


Other less often reported side effects are difficult to determine due to the individuality of each person’s biological system. This is why professional permanent cosmetic technicians require a client history profile be filled out to assess different factors that may contribute to your experience after the tattooing procedure has been completed.


Do the pigments pose allergy problems? People can develop an allergy to anything, anytime; however, pigment allergies are considered rare. Some doctors recommend that people with environmental allergies or allergies to conventional makeup have permanent cosmetic procedures because they can replace cosmetic products that people are sensitive to. While allergic reactions to any type of tattooing pigments on the body or on the face through permanent cosmetics may occur at any point in time, they are extremely rare. Ask your technician if their pigments meet their local jurisdictional requirements.


Is there any possibility of medical problems? The possibility that you would have any problems or reactions from these procedures is almost non-existent with today’s health standards. Post procedural instructions, if followed carefully, will greatly reduce any risk. Medical problems associated with permanent cosmetics are often linked to poor attention to the required aftercare process on behalf of the client. Choose a time for procedures when you feel confident you can follow the simple, but very important after care instructions.


What is a touch-up and do I need one? Often the tattooed color is not perfect after the initial procedure heals. Permanent cosmetic procedures are a process and at least one follow-up to the initial procedure should be scheduled. It is recommended that any required detail work to the original procedure be performed no sooner than four weeks after the original procedure. The minimum standard for follow-up detail work for lip procedures is six weeks. Lips have a different healing period than procedures performed on other parts of the face due to their delicate nature. The time frames will vary depending on the health profile and age of the client, but these are good minimum standards for consideration.


Can I still have an MRI scan? Numerous studies have shown that even for people who have large body tattoos there is little to no potential for irritation resulting from an MRI. In the rare instance where discomfort resulted, it was localized and very temporary. However, with that said, it is prudent to advise your MRI technician that you have permanent cosmetics.




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