Permanent Makeup with Tattoos?
I’ve been a “makeup artist” since I was ten. My Mom bought me a dollar-store makeup kit whose colors resembled those of a Lisa Frank folder – bold, silly, and smack-you-in-the-face bright. Since then, me and my neon colors have been insatiable. After graduating from MUD school, I’ve spent my life making women beautiful. Whether it’s been teaching them how to bring out the green in their eyes with brown eyeliner, or showing them the best ways to contour their faces, I think I’ve come full circle.
But there is one cosmetic process that I am not so familiar with, but has inevitably forced itself into my line of sight now that I’ve begun taking classes and pursuing tattoo artistry: permanent makeup.
Yes, permanent. No stains, dyes, glosses, crayons, liners, or creams. You can now make the decision to get certain beauty features tattooed to your face. And as any beauty obsessive would, I decided to set out for myself to see what it entailed.
Permanent Tattoos: A History
While this might seem like a recent trend, tattooing lips, eyelids and cheeks has actually been a practice since the early 1900s. While the techniques have changed (today we use organic color pigments instead of over the counter vegetable dye, ew) they are still conceptually the same. They have increased in usage as of late, as the number of cosmetic tattooists have increased tenfold since 2009.
I feel like this has a direct connection to the fact that women are increasingly active in the professional world. Women were getting jobs on top of having children, starting their own companies while also keeping a house, and it got to a point where many women simply had had enough – they couldn’t find fifteen minutes for themselves in the morning to put their makeup on.
A Case for the Permanent Face
This new procedure has revolutionised the resources we need to stay at the top of our beauty game. It saves money in the long run, as it covers the basics of eyeliner, lipliner, eyebrow fillers, with the tattoos themselves ranging from £250 to £500. It crosses one more thing off of your morning to do list – imagine being able to jump out of bed, throw on your clothes, run a brush through your hair, and slide into your car, knowing that your boss won’t look at you with a “are you sick?” glance when you stumble in wearing no mascara.
But that leads to the opposite aspect of the procedure.
Who Is This Really For?
Some women are concerned about the underlying implications about permanent makeup, and fear that this hurried “practical” makeup seems to serve one major purpose: creating a facial look that is “just enough” to fit into social norms. Many of you probably heard of the amazing woman from Harrod’s who got fired simply because she stood her ground – she didn’t like makeup, and didn’t want to wear it. And yet she lost her job simply because she no longer fit into the “aesthetic” Harrod’s had been looking to preserve. It’s easy to worry that women looking to put on a base line of makeup – just enough to look like they’ve spent a good twenty minutes on their face that morning – may be doing so to please sexist bosses and coworkers who believe women should have to dedicate more time in the morning than they do simply because they’re females.
Of course, as a feminist and a woman, I think everyone has their own reasons for doing anything, and I think there are some great reasons to get permanent makeup done. It’s particularly meaningful for people who suffer from chronic illnesses that use it to fill in lost eyebrows or cover up scars and burns.
So whatever reason you may have for considering it, I wanted to lastly expose any myths and elucidate any extra points that you may need to ponder before talking to a cosmetic tattoo artist.
It is NOT entirely a permanent procedure.
While the makeup will last a lot longer than your typical lipstick, the cells on your face rejuvenate at a crazy rate. Your ‘permanent’ makeup job won’t last more than 3-7 years, and there will most likely be touch ups needed during that time period as well. It’s good news for anyone who isn’t happy with their procedure, or who may want to change looks every once in awhile (a casual reminder: that is still a long while.)
To get this done, you can’t simply call a tattoo artist.
There are actually specialized permanent cosmetic technicians that have earned training that basic tattoo artists have not. There are classes you must take and a license you must earn before you can give someone permanent cosmetic procedures. If you’re looking to begin the process, look for permanent makeup providers in particular. There are also several key differences in how each procedure is done – they use different needle strokes than classically trained tattooists, and different kinds of pigments – usually ones that are natural/organic in nature – are used in cosmetic tats.
You shouldn’t be able to tell you’re wearing it.
That’s right. This isn’t for women who want red lips, black liner and shadow on a 24/7 circuit. The best kind of permanent makeup is the kind you don’t see at all. When people see you after you’ve had it done, their response should be “wow, you look amazing! What did you do?”
Okay, let’s get to the brunt of it – it probably hurts like hell, right?
Actually, this is another area in which these kinds of procedures are more like a medical visit than a tattoo printing. Because of how sensitive the nerves on the face are (imagine getting a normal tattoo on your eyelid. Actually, never mind, don’t, just don’t) cosmeticians use topical numbing creams that render you pretty pain-free throughout the procedure. While everyone’s pain threshold is different, the anesthetics they use make it very different from a normal tattoo.
Your Beauty – Your Way
Permanent makeup is opening a lot of doors for women who want some help with their everyday lives, and I think that’s fantastic. My only caveats for getting the procedure:
Make sure you’re doing this for you.
Don’t get permanent makeup because your cubicle-mate will stop giving you crap about looking tired in the morning. Get it because you’re certain you want a specific look – nice, full eyebrows you may have trouble shaping, pretty lines around the eyes that you do every day anyways – and you want it without the hassle.
Still make time for “makeup time.”
It’s funny, growing up, I always felt a twinge of guilt when I saw the girls on movies and shows who were portrayed as vain princesses because they were always checking the mirror, trying different lipglosses, and talking about their hair. Because that was me. I love beauty. The hour I spend in the morning getting ready is an almost spiritual connection between my body and my mind, and I love it. That grooming, that alone-time… it’s a form of self-care that makes me feel whole.