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Makeup Tattoos: Is the...

Makeup Tattoos: Is the Payoff Worth the Pain?

Redoing your makeup day after day can be a joy to some but a nightmare to others. A new solution to the problem is makeup tattoos. The next questions is, is waking up beautiful worth enduring a tattoo on your eyelid?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up in the morning fully made up—no primping required? Whether you were sick with the flu, swimming, working out, or just didn’t have time to get ready, you’d always look spectacular?

That’s the promise of makeup tattoos. And it’s easy to see why so many women choose it—it saves time, it saves hassle, and you always look good—period. Right?

But if permanent makeup really was such a fabulous innovation and amazingly effective time-saver, why doesn’t everyone do it? Why isn’t it offered by every spa and recommended by every beauty magazine? Could it be that maybe it’s not actually such a great idea?

If You Like the Mike Tyson Look…
Permanent makeup is a tattoo. A tattoo that goes on your face. Although the companies that make it purport that the application process is less painful than traditional tattooing, it’s still tiny needles shoving pigment (repeatedly!) into your skin. No way to get around that.

Getting permanent makeup involves all the variables of getting regular makeup done—will the colors look nice? Is the artist skilled? Will it flatter my face or make me look clownish? But it also involves all the variables of getting a regular tattoo. Is the facility sanitary? Is the artist competent? Will the ink migrate or bleed? Will I get an infection, granuloma, scar, or keloid near the site? Will I have an allergic reaction to the ink? Am I totally going to regret this?

Most permanent makeup is applied to create the look of softly (or dramatically) lined eyes, the look of more lush, defined brows, and the look of fuller, pinker lips. Done correctly, it can be a natural and effective way to enhance your features.  (Some women choose to tattoo full eye shadow looks, although it’s uncommon.) Most permanent makeup applications cost between $400 and $800, according to the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals.

But cosmetic permanent makeup does only the bare minimum of feature-enhancing. It can make eyes pop or make lips stand out more, but it doesn’t erase blemishes, it doesn’t refine your complexion. Permanent makeup can’t shade or contour the way foundation, blush, and bronzer can. And since most permanent makeup is so relatively minimal, most women who opt for it still end up wearing some regular temporary makeup every day, so ultimately, it doesn’t even save that much time.

Plus there’s the whole “permanent” thing. Even if the makeup looks flawless when it’s first applied, skin tone and color change over time, skin sags, and facial contours change. Although the inks used in permanent makeup do fade slightly over time, what looked perfect can end up looking stretched, saggy, or just plain stupid. Not to mention that fashions change too, and that liner look that once seemed classic can easily become hopelessly dated. And who doesn’t like changing up their makeup now and then? Permanent makeup chains you to one look for the rest of your life. And if you want to remove it? The process is the same as the one for removing that butterfly tramp stamp you got on Spring Break. Not fun.

Are You the Perfect Candidate?
Some women don’t want to experiment with makeup or don't need foundation, so a little permanent liner or lip color might be all they need every day. Anyone who thinks that she falls into that category and is considering permanent makeup would do well to remember the following things:

  • Look for an experienced technician who works in a sanitary salon. Ask for certifications.
  • Bring pictures of what you’re looking for. Ask to see pictures of former clients.
  • Try to find people with permanent makeup, so you can examine the results in person.
  • To minimize the chance of infection, take care of permanent makeup the same way you’d take care of a new tattoo.
  • Be mindful that sometimes, tattoos and permanent makeup can interfere with MRI machines. Tell your doctor before you undergo imaging.
  • Take extra care of your skin and always wear sunscreen, to minimize sun damage and ink fading. 
Allison Ford

Allison is a writer and editor who specializes in beauty, style, entertainment, and pop culture. She was part of the editorial team at DivineCaroline (now for more than three years. She loves makeup, sparkly accessories, giraffes, brunch, Matt Damon, New York City, and ice cream.

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