Permanent Makeup FAQ

Permanent Makeup – What is it?
Permanent cosmetic makeup is cosmetic tattooing. The specialized techniques used for permanent cosmetics are often referred to as “micropigmentation”, “micropigment implantation” or “dermagraphics”. The cosmetic implantation technique deposits colored pigment into the upper reticular layer of the dermis.See also “Is Permanent Makeup for Me?”
 How are Permanent Cosmetic Procedures Performed?
Permanent cosmetics procedures are performed using various devices, including the traditional tattoo coil machines, the pen or rotary machine (includes the digital rotary machines) and the non-machine or hand device. The process includes a consultation, the application of pigment, and at least one or more follow up visits for evaluating the healed design work and color of the pigment.
 Who Benefits from Permanent Makeup?
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 Permanent Cosmetic Procedures can be Done?
 Permanent Cosmetic procedures can be very subtle or dramatic depending on what you are looking for. Options include:

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

 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. The scientific structure of pigments and the requirement for periodic refreshing is identical to that of tinted hair color; faded material on furniture that may be located near a window and subject to sun exposure; house paint that is exposed to the sun and other environmental elements; pigment implanted in the skin may fade with time.This colorant periodic maintenance requirement is a good opportunity to reevaluate one’s color and design preferences.  While the concept of permanent, without any change, may seem like a perfectly good idea, think about how your tastes have changed over the years.  From time to time likely you have made subtle or dramatic changes in your clothing preferences, your hair color and style, and if you wear topical makeup, those colors have changed as well.

The fact that 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.

See also “Is Permanent Makeup Really Permanent?” 

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.

See also “What Does Permanent Makeup Cost?

 How Long Does Each Procedure Take?
The initial procedure will generally take approximately 2 to 2 ½ 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.
 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 our industry. Your permanent cosmetic professional should discuss these methods with you to determine which one is appropriate.

To put this in perspective, thousands of body art tattoos are performed annually, possibly millions.  As a rule, 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.

See also “Does Permanent Makeup Hurt?

 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. The SPCP has taken a position against permanent cosmetic procedures conducted at trade shows and in salons where nail dust, aerosols or other chemicals are present.

See also “Permanent Makeup Tattooing and The Truth” and “What Should I Expect?

 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.

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?

  1. If you cannot communicate with your technician, it is possible your desires will not be realized.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

 Is Permanent Cosmetic Makeup a Career For Me?
The opportunities for skilled permanent cosmetics technicians are impressive.Career and business opportunities will however, vary greatly depending on location and the individual technician’s training and skill. Many nurses and a few doctors, as well as hair, skin, and nail care professionals are choosing to train in permanent cosmetics.

See also the article “Is a Career in Permanent Makeup for Me?” and “Permanent Makeup is Here To Stay

 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.Ask your technician if they use pigments that are formulated from powders taken from the FDA’s Food Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) listings.  Although the FDA does not at this time approve or disapprove tattoo pigments, the SPCP considers pigments formulated from the FD&C listing the safest origin of pigment powders for permanent cosmetic pigment formulations.  Also SPCP pigment suppliers are required to list the ingredients on their pigment labels.
 Is There Any Possibility for Medical Problems?
The possibility that you would have any problems or reactions from these procedures is almost non-existent with today’s health standards. SPCP member professionals are given continued opportunities for education in practicing precise methods of disinfection and sterilization.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’s 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 agenda than procedures performed on other parts of the face due to their delicate nature.

The cited 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.

For a listing of member technicians in your area, see our online permanent makeup technician listings or Contact Us