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Tattooed Makeup

Updated on September 10, 2014

Cosmetic tattoo - before, during, after

This photo is used under the GNU Free Documentation License.
This photo is used under the GNU Free Documentation License. | Source
Mrs. Stevens Wagner 1907
Mrs. Stevens Wagner 1907 | Source
This photo is used on several cosmetic tattoo sites as well as the one named here.
This photo is used on several cosmetic tattoo sites as well as the one named here. | Source

Speaking of tattoos as makeup is not referring to female body tattoos. If I were to write about that I would certainly begin with Mrs. Stevens Wagner who is believed to be the first tattooed lady (at least in the circus). Maud Stevens Wagner was married to Gus Wagner, a tattoo artist in the circus. Gus was also tattooed but it appears both he and his wife approved of him practicing his craft on her. Though Maud was an aerialist and a contortionist she was known most for her tattoos. You can see from the picture I have posted it looks like her hands and face are the only places not tattooed. It seems circus and tattoo went hand and hand in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Today the title "Most Tattooed Woman in the World", seems to belong to Sarah Ferguson also known as Julia Gnuse (in the Guinness Book of World Records).

Tattoos, tattooed ladies, body tattoos, nothing new there. Actually ancient civilizations were using tattoos for religious purposes, for status, and for decoration, but, that is NOT what this hub is about. If you want to read more about tattoos and see some extraordinary examples of beautiful tattoos go to theLyricwriter's Profile page and pick a hub out of the myriad of beautifully written and illustrated hubs about all manner of tattoo designs. My previous hub about tattoos was more general than I intend this one to be. As you can see in my first photo here,when I say cosmetic tattoo I certainly mean cosmetic.

Tattoos continue to be administered as they were in 1907 (Maud Wagner) but they have also found a new use, one that is cosmetically pleasing and in some instances actually helpful to some women. I speak with first-hand knowledge, but more about that later. Now, what is cosmetic tattooing?

What is cosmetic tattooing/tattoo makeup? First let me explain there are other names for tattoo makeup such as permanent makeup, permanent cosmetics, dermapigmentation, micropigmentation, and cosmetic tattooing. According to Wikipedia, "In the United States and other countries, the inks used in permanent makeup and the pigments in these inks are subject to FDA or similar agency regulation as cosmetics and color additives." That makes cosmetic tattooing different than regular tattoos and it is good worrying about bad ink or poisonous additives (though most tattoo parlors have done away with that worry anyway).

Well, no matter what you call it, its the use of tattooing to permanently apply makeup to any area, usually the face. For example, you can have a pink or red tattoo around your lips giving you a permanent lip liner or fill in your lips completely to look like you are always wearing lipstick. While I don't see this as essential some women do. However, many of us notice as we age things grow where we don't want them and don't grow where we do want them (no gentlemen you cannot tattoo your hair back), so we find ourselves looking in the mirror and seeing sparse eyebrows and eyelashes. Makeup of course can help but what if you don't want to apply it everyday? It isn't cheap after all...or, as in my case, what if you are allergic to it and can't wear it? Possible answer....TATTOO!

Tattooed eyeliner
Tattooed eyeliner | Source

Getting a cosmetic tattoo is just like getting any tattoo...there will be a needle and there will be ink. A hollow needle will pierce the top layer of the skin and insert the it painful? You becha! Does the pain last long, nope. Is it worth it? You becha! Okay, before I go any further I guess I should tell you about my cosmetic tattoo.

I have always had trouble wearing eye makeup. No matter what brand or type I buy my eyes water and itch after the first hour. If I want to go home after the first hour I'm fine but usually I want to stay out or stay at the wedding, or whatever. Also, as I mentioned earlier, age had taken away a few of my already pale eyelashes leaving me look like I am sleep deprived and getting older by the minute. Years ago a friend had eyeliner tattooed on her upper eye lids. I thought it looked fabulous and wanted it done immediately. The problem was she had it done in Florida and I live in New York. While my husband loves me and often gives in to me I don't think the price of a trip to Florida would be something he'd consider so I could get my eyelashes tattooed.

Over the next couple of years I thought about it but didn't do much else. About five years ago my neighbor came over and said, "look at my eyes". I told her it looked like her eyeliner was perfect. She said, "I just got it tattooed on." Now, I know she saw the smile on my face but I don't think she saw the light bulb go off over my head. "Where?" was all I could muster. When she told me it was at a nearby beauty parlor I proceeded to pump her for all the necessary information.

The lady that had done her eyes was a 'Permanent Makeup Technician' who worked out of a plastic surgeon's office and that beauty parlor that was near us. Seems there are several plastic surgeons that offer this service. They don't do it themselves, but have technicians in their office who do it. So, I was impressed.

Three days later I went to my appointment to have my eyelids tattooed. The lady was very nice, explained her technique, her credentials and how it was done. She also explained that in about three months I should have it done again to make sure it wouldn't fade for years. We discussed what I wanted...since I was nearly sixty I told her I needed something "understated" but noticeable. Though I would've loved the dark thick liner seen on many young girls, I knew I was too old for that. I need a very thin line that would blend well with my blonde hair. She decided on a brown/black color mixture and agreed to the fine line.

When she first began I thought, oh this is a piece of cake...doesn't hurt at all...but then she went over the line several times. Each time she did it became more tender and I would have to say a little painful. First one eye, then the other. When she finished she showed me in a mirror. Well it was a little surprising but she explained it was swollen and the swelling would go down and the color wouldn't be as pronounced. I was sent on my way and told to keep it clean, apply ice and apply vaseline to keep it from drying out. I followed her directions and in about three days the swelling went down and the color lightened. By the end of a week it was just what I wanted!


Performed by skin care specialists, tattoo artists, nurses and even physicians, permanent cosmetics is a specialty that falls under cosmetology and esthetics.

One need for permanent cosmetics is arthritis. Some statistics show a substantial, average increase of 34% in all states. 10 of the states anticipate increases from 50% to 90%.

The average income for these workers as of 2010 was $32,030 per year. The top 25 percent of skin-care workers earned $40,810 annually.

By some estimates, permanent make-up saves as many 100 hours a year in make-up application!

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.

Choose a technician carefully by considering training, experience, compliance with state and local laws, and the technician’s before and after photograph portfolio.

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.

There are permanent makeup school is almost every state.

FAQ's from:,,, 24/

So, why would you want to do this? Everyone has their own reasons...Like me, allergies (not being able to wear eye makeup at all), for some fading eyesight makes it difficult to apply makeup for others arthritis (and trying to wear eyeglasses while you apply makeup just doesn't seem to cut it), to save time and money not having to apply eyeliner everyday, not worrying about makeup 'running' or rubbing off, etc. Why wouldn't you want to do this? There are those afraid of tattoos, it is mostly permanent, and like all tattoos, the color will fade over time and you may need to have it done again. I can say its been over five years and mine's hanging in there! I have read some people's claims it lasts up to seventeen years without a touch up. Now for someone young that might be a problem but for me, well, I don't know if I'll want a touch up at 77 years of age!

Another very popular tattoo is eyebrows. As I said, when we age the things we want sometimes begin to fade or thin out and sometimes our hands are not as steady as they used to be or our eyesight not as good. Having eyebrows tattooed on eliminates the worry of applying eyebrow pencil. Of course there are also women with Alopecia who have no hair and tattooing is a convenience and a cosmetic plus. Others just want to make sure their eyebrows look the same everyday.

Tattooed makeup is not for everyone but for those interested in a permanent no mess makeup look it could be for you. The most important thing if you choose to go this route is to make sure the person doing the tattooing is licensed, knowledgeable and works in a clean/sterile environment. Happy Tattooing!

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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks chrissieklinger...guess we all have our own agendas ;) Glad I could enlighten you and you enjoyed my hub!

    • chrissieklinger profile image


      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I have heard about this and never understood why someone would do this but you pointed out some very practical reasons. Neat article!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Christy. It was definitely a unique experience for me but I definitely would do it again!

    • Christy Kirwan profile image

      Christy Kirwan 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      This is really interesting. I love the personal details of your experience!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      You are too kind ubanichijioke! Thank you.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 

      6 years ago from Lagos

      Wow! A very important article. Useful is an understatement. Great job ma'am. Hope the tattoo is still looking nice and sweet on you? Wish you all the best.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Peanutritious, though it says 'application of eyelashes' it begins with the permanent eyeliner application.

      Sueko I know a few people who have had eyebrows tattooed and they love them! Good luck.

    • Sueko Sasaki BASW profile image

      Sueko Sasaki BASW 

      6 years ago from Southwest Missouri, The Ozark Mountains

      I'm considering permanent eyebrows because the quality of pencils has really gone downhill. Either they are so dry they crumble when you use them, or are so greasy and melty that they don't stay on your face without a layer of powder then another layer of pencil.

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 

      6 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Ah sorry, I was confused as you had a video titled 'permanent make up procedure - application of eyelashes.'

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Peanutritious I don't think they've come up with permanent eyelashes...they grow out. Thanks for reading.

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 

      6 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Fascinating! I've seen people with tattooed eyeliner that looks great and eyebrows that looked a bit of a weird colour, maybe they needed it redoing. How on earth do they do permanent eyelashes? I've had eyelash extensions that last up to eight weeks. They look fabulous but wrecked my own and they're still really short. I'd love to have permanent one's.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      It is a little scary Au Fait but necessity is the mother of invention! Thanks for reading, voting, and sharing. It is always nice to see you here.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      6 years ago from North Texas

      I think it's great that you have written this hub to share your experience. I have a niece who has had her eyeliner tattooed on, so this concept isn't nw to me. I understand the desire for convenience.

      But I have to say, much as I appreciate this hub and the information within, ain't nobody going to get a needle anywhere around my eyes. Just the same, I think this is a fantastic hub and I'm voting it up, useful, interesting, and will share with my followers. Great info for women who are much braver than myself! :)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      There's got to be someone in Ohio. Some plastic surgeon's offices offer cosmetic tattooing...hey you never know. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 

      6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Wow, what an interesting hub. I would love to tattoo Eyeliner, eyebrows, and lips. That would probably cost a lot. But, still very interesting.

      Thank you for sharing this. I live in Ohio, there really isn't much here. Well not that I know of anyway.

      Voted up.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      idigwebsites, let me know if you do decide to try it. I'd be anxious to see how you like it...I know people who've had eyebrows and eyeliner but no one yet who's done their lips.

    • idigwebsites profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Hmmmm.. I would like to try on the lips, since mine are pale. :)

      Really great hub. Voted up and interesting. :)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Sharyn with a benefit like that (a friend who is in the business) you should definitely go for it! It makes life soooo much easier.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 

      6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Awww, gosh, why didn't I think of doing a hub on this? My best friend is "certified" and does wonderful work. I have yet to say YES to her but I've seen her portfolio of before and after pictures - and they are awesome. I may just do it one day, especially the eye liner. Great hub!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      God bless that 86 yr. old Daisy...I'm waiting for that time to not have to worry about those things!

      It is a little scary Stephanie but if the one doing the tattoo is experienced and good, you get over it quickly.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      6 years ago from USA

      Now permanent makeup would be a great solution to those thinning eyebrows and lashes! I did enjoy your very interesting article, and it certainly makes makeup tattoos sound like a great idea. Isn't it scary to have the needle so close to your eyes, though? Voted this hub up and shared!

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 

      6 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


      Thanks for publishing this very well-researched, informative article.

      You mentioned that you didn't know if you would want a touchup when you were 77. I knew a woman who had the permanent eye makeup procedure done for the first time when she was 86.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I know Moonlake, it seems allergies appear as we get older, along with all the other benefits ;)

    • moonlake profile image


      6 years ago from America

      I would like to get this done. My eyebrows are disappearing and I can't wear make-up. Like you my eyes itch. I don't know what happened I never had trouble before but I sure do now. Interesting hub and good information. Voted uP!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Yes, it was and I know several others that are just as please as I was PH!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I have been thinking about this for awhile now. Glad your experience was positive. :)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Martie, remember, never say never ;)

      And thank you Jools. Nice of you to read something that doesn't apply to you and then to share it! Wow!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Mary, I never wear make up so this would not be something I would ever do but it sounds so good and would certainly save a lot of time and effort. As you say, once your eyesight starts to diminish (mine already has) I imagine it gets harder to apply eye liner and mascara. I have shared this on Facebook, very interesting.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      How I wish I had the courage for tattooed eye-liner! Maybe one day...

      Voted up, pinned and shared :)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Maybe they could do a spot test like you do when you clean your carpet ;)

      Thanks for stopping by b.Malin.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      6 years ago

      I can certainly see the pros and cons of this Tattooed Makeup. The pain is something I'd think about... and my luck, I'd probably have an Allergic Reaction to the procedure. Interesting read though.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I know Nell, can you imagine all those tattoos back then? Glad you like my Avatar.

      Ah Cogerson, my husband doesn't have any tattoos either and here I am with three (one on my back and one on each eye!). Hope your teenagers enjoy the hub. Thanks for the votes and nice to know you like my Avatar.

    • Cogerson profile image


      6 years ago from Virginia

      Lots of great information in this hub....awesome photos as far after 45 years I have been able to avoid getting a tattoo....but it seems like my wife is starting to take interest in this cause....I am emailing your hub to some of my teenagers.....great new avatar...voted up and across the board.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Loved the old picture of the tattooed lady! this was great! and reminded me of someone years ago who actually did get their eyebrows tattooed, can't remember who it was, it was a work. She also had permanent lashes done too, nice one Mary, and I love your new Avatar!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Definitely good for those of us with allergies Lord. Wonder what Cogerson will think of my new pic...its been a year and a half so I thought it was time for a change.

      You're never too old Timetraveler ;)

      Never had my eyebrows threaded so I can't compare Tammy. The pain doesn't last long though.

      Yes, Sen.sush it is very important to make sure the place is hygienic and everything is clean so you don't wind up with an infection!

    • sen.sush23 profile image


      6 years ago from Kolkata, India

      I knew about this permanent make-up thing, but here is a detailed discussion with the videos. It makes me want to try out the eye-brow, eye liner and may be just a lil bit of color for lips?! Only problem, I am not yet sure of the hygiene in the few parlors that may be around in my city. Voted up and away.

    • tammyswallow profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina

      I LOVE this idea. I think it would save so much time. I just don't think I could stand to get the eyeliner. But, from what I hear, it is less painful then getting eyebrows threaded. Great hub!

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      6 years ago from USA

      This was really interesting. I'm too old now for it, but even if I was younger, the pain thing would put me off. Nicely done hub, though.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      6 years ago from New York

      Great hub and very informative. Have known a girl that wore them for 7 years; she went back to have them redone. I guess age, water and weather did affect her eyeliner and shadows. The good thing is that she could wake up and go. Many women have allergies, and this article will help them in their final decision. Surprised gladly by your new profile pic Mary! I guess Cogerson will have to respond to it!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks for sharing Unknown!

    • unknown spy profile image

      Life Under Construction 

      6 years ago from Neverland

      Mary, i also heard about this or read somewhere that salons also do tattoo make-up especially for women who had no time to retouch and always so busy..

      sharing this

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Carter it really solves the problem for shaky hands or difficulty any age.

      Thanks Annette, I thought my personal experience would make it easier to 'understand' the whole thing.

      Ah, Effer, I didn't write about the 'nipple' tattoo since I was concentrating on cosmetics, but I did know about it. There is also a laser tattoo now that is easier when administered. I didn't show a picture of my eyes 'cause when I took the picture it showed too many wrinkles ;)

      Thanks Michelle. I'm glad your Mom had it done for her sake. I've never regretted mine.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      My mum had tattooed eyebrows too. Just like you described, it just takes a bit of time to settle and she looks just fine! At least there is no need for constant make up application! Thanks for this share! I share as well!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Til......There is a young lady named Stephanie, who is a board certified Permanent make-up Cosmetician. She works in conjunction with a group of cosmetic surgeons, her office, in the same building as theirs.

      She's located in Erie PA...about an hr from here and 2 friends and I went to visit her for a consultation and to have a look at her clinic and all the incredible things she does....We were there for over an hour and she was wonderful in explaining everything to us..... I was really interested in the "eyebrows." I have a friend who had that done and they were perfect and NO more fuss, putting your own on with a pencil! Stephanie explained to us that she does not use an ink, per say, but an actual human pigmentation serum.

      Anyway, the most interesting thing she showed us were pictures of how she creates a natural-looking nipple on a woman's reconstructed breast after a mastectomy. The AFTER photos she showed us were amazing.....the reconstructed breast, identical to the woman's natural one. This is a wonderful thing that can be done now, for breast cancer patients that make such a difference in their life.

      I never did call for an appointment, but I do intend to.......WHY did you not show us a picture of your eyes?? Isn't it wonderful that there is so much that can aid us as we age to maintain our appearance?

      I'm a firm believer in whatever we want....we should go for it....

    • Annette R. Smith profile image

      Annette R. Smith 

      6 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Great article, Mary ... and an interesting solution for people like me who have trouble applying and wearing eye makeup due to allergies and vision changes. I enjoyed reading about your personal experience with this procedure.

    • carter06 profile image


      6 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      I was just thinking recently when applying my make up and needing my glasses how one day I won't be able to see to put it on...a long way off for me yet but the day will come for sure & what a great option for women now...thanks for writing this & sharing it with us...Voted UUAI shared & tweeted...cheers

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Trust me TT, I've never regretted it. Most people have no clue I've had it done! Mine is understated (not like the 'cat eye' in the photo) but just enough to add the color I need.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      One of the nurses at my doctors has eyeliner tattoos. As my far sightedness gets worse I find the idea more appealing. Nice work.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Carol it does make life easier.

      Janine, I guess its for us lazy folks ;)

      So true Austinstar.

      It really is cool LaThing, no more worrying about how you look in the a.m.

      Pamela, I read about women in their late sixties and seventies doing it. Why not? If it makes life easier and it helps us look and feel good, go for it! P.S. I love it.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I just thought tattooed eye makeup was for the younger women and not for someone my age also. It seems to have worked quite well for you. This is a very interesting article.

    • LaThing profile image


      6 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      Very interesting article...... Didn't know that was an option, lol! What a difference, can you imagine, waking up in the morning and you are in full makeup :)

      Great read, voting up and interesting.

    • Austinstar profile image


      6 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

      Makeup tattoo is not gone. I have often thought of getting this done. I used to get my eyelashes dyed. It really makes a dramatic difference!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Wow Mary never would have thought of doing this, but can after reading your article see the reasoning behind it. Enjoyed reading your story and the little bit of history too. Have voted and shared too!!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      What fun... why not look gorgeous and never have to do the makeup thing again. Great hub. Voted up.


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