Permanent Cosmetics, Tattooing and the Truth

“Who’d have guessed it?” exclaim many of the thousands of women who have had their eyebrows, eyeliner or other permanent makeup done in the past 15 years.   “Who would have ever thought I would have a tattoo! This is the best thing I have ever done for myself.   I wish I’d been aware of the available of this service sooner!”   Thanks to the art of cosmetic tattooing, many women in all stages of life and even some men are having their eyebrows, eyeliner and lips colored permanently, and loving it!

When did permanent cosmetics become popular? While some form of cosmetic tattooing is traced back thousands of years ago, it really came into its own as an industry in the late l970’s.   At that time, various tattoo artists around the country began offering cosmetic tattooing (also referred to as permanent cosmetics, permanent makeup and micropigmentation,) and reconstructive pigmentation. Soon after, medical personnel, aestheticians, electrologists, and cosmetologists became interested in performing these procedures.

Although advancements have been made since the 1980’s, training programs were established throughout the country and the industry has grown rapidly since then.   Tattooing, whether it is for decorating the body (traditional body art) or applying permanent cosmetics to replace the deficiencies of topically applied makeup, should be considered thoughtfully before going forward.

How safe is cosmetic tattooing? Very safe; according to the Center for Disease Control as there has not been any incidence of HIV attributable to tattooing nor has there been any increase of Hepatitis B in recent years. When the tattoo or permanent cosmetic work is performed under professional conditions, there is limited risk for disease transmission. If the technician is using an autoclave on their instruments or single use pre-sterilized needles and machine accessories, and works in a clean environment, the chances of developing any type of communicable disease are remote, if not impossible.

What about allergic reactions?  The chances of developing an allergic reaction to pigments are extremely remote.  SPCP supplier members and trainer members are required to sell and teach with pigment formulations that only contain color additives from the FDA’s Food, Drug, and Cosmetics listings.

How safe is permanent cosmetics with MRI? In regard to MRI and people who have permanent cosmetics, according to Dr. Frank Shellock, an authority on this subject, only a few people have reported minor problems around the eye area and no problems around the lip or brow area.

Choosing the right technician for you is an important decision to make when deciding to have a permanent cosmetic procedure performed.  Your first concern should be to find a credentialed technician who follows proper OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard practices and who works in a professional environment. Next, decide by appearance and conversation if this is a person you wish to work with. Do pictures of their work make you feel comfortable? Do they offer the type of permanent cosmetics you desire?  When permanent makeup (or permanent cosmetics, micropigmentation or cosmetic tattooing) is performed properly, it should appear natural and as good as or better than topically applied makeup.

Today, hundreds of thousands of women and men have chosen to have permanent make up procedures performed. Very often people have exclaimed, “This is the best thing I have ever done for myself!”

How do I choose a professional? One can often ask doctors and salons and even friends for a referral to a professional near you. If not, look them up on the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals website  The SPCP is dedicated to safety, ethics and education in the industry. The website can give you more information about what to look for in a technician.