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Permanent Makeup Tattoos

Updated on December 1, 2009

When I was a teenager, my father married for the fourth time and I finally got to meet the woman he'd been shacking up with on the other side of the country. She was cool, middle aged and hip -- and I couldn't believe how perfect the woman's makeup was every morning when she came downstairs for coffee. So I asked her how she did it, and I was totally blown away by the answer: she had permanent eyeliner tattooed around her eyes and I believe she had her eyebrows shaped a bit as well. At the time I'd never heard of such a thing and I was really taken aback -- that had to hurt a hella lot, right? Well, believe it or not, you can get all sorts of cosmetic tattooing and this is just a list of the more common procedures.

Quick Facts:

  • How permanent is it? Not as permanent as you might think. They say you need "touch ups" to maintain the look and these can be needed anywhere from 2 to 7 years after a procedure. Lipstick and eyeliner last the longest.

  • Does it hurt? Of course it hurts; how much depends on your tolerance. I've heard it equated to tiny pin pricks or minor stinging but nothing to bring tears to your eyes (so I'm told, anyway!) Anesthetics are typically available for sensitive areas.

  • How much does it cost? Few people advertise their rates on their websites, but you can be sure that any sort of permanent makeup procedure is going to cost a few hundred bucks a pop.

  • How long does it take? Depending on what you want done it could range from an hour or two or more, but shouldn't be an all day event.

  • Will it look natural right away? No, it won't; it's going to look just like a tattoo would look anywhere else -- slightly inflamed around the edges, etc, so you'll probably want to avoid work for a few days while you heal.

1. Permanent eyeliner

As I've just mentioned, permanent eyeliner can be tattooed across your lids, giving you the appearance of having perfect eyeliner when you step out of bed or even the shower. This appeals to many women and if you want to indulge, be my guest, but remember one thing -- it's permanent. If you decide one morning that you no longer want a fat line around your eyes and would rather have a thinner eyeliner line, or only have your top lids lined, you're screwed. So be sure whatever look you go for is one you can live with in 20 or 30 years, cos you're going to have it forever.

2. Permanent Eyebrows

If these are done well, they do look quite nice, particularly for those women who have overplucked theirs to the point the hair has gone very sparse. The trick is having them done in a suitable color and shaped by someone who hasn't mistaken you for Lucille Ball. Personally, I think these look best when most of the eyebrow is still there and coloring is used only as a basic shaping tool.

3. Permanent lipliner

I have to confess that this one does appeal to me, being that the edge of my own lips are very pale colored and if I want to wear lipstick I've got to worry about the edges bleeding. The people who offer permanent lipliner claim that tattooing the lip line will stop that sort of thing from happening, so if you've got that issue it may be something you want to consider. I was actually impressed by the finished look -- it's remarkably natural looking.


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