Everything You Need to Know About Permanent Makeup

Everything You Need to Know About Permanent Makeup
Credit: Sarah Harvey

Permanent makeup can sometimes come with a less-than-ideal reputation—one that evokes memories of the 1980s, shakily traced blue eyeliner, and lip liner that doesn’t quite line up with one’s natural lip line. Not good.

But the truth is that permanent and semi-permanent makeup has massively evolved and improved in recent years, and isn’t something to be feared any more. Microblading is testament to this and, as the eyebrow-enhancing technique that’s taken over your Instagram feed, it is, in essence, really well-done eyebrow tattoos.

And, at the end of the day, if anything promises to shave precious time off of our morning makeup routine, we’re all ears. Below is a complete guide to everything you need to know about permanent makeup, from what the process is like to how much it hurts.


What is microblading?

“Microblading is a form of semi-permanent makeup that is used to reshape, enhance, or recreate natural looking eyebrows,” explains Brittni Alexandra, founder of B. Beautiful and a brow design and permanent makeup specialist. “This is done using a technique of hair-like strokes on the epidermal layer of the skin, which is the very top layer.”

Is everyone a candidate?

“Not necessarily. If you have done chemotherapy or Botox in the last six months, or are currently taking any blood thinners,” then sadly microblading is not for you at this time.  

What’s the tattooing process like?

“It takes approximately two hours from start to finish,” Alexandra continues. “We topically numb the brow area to make you feel comfortable, draw out the shape of the brow and custom mix the perfect color for your brows and skin tone. From there, we reshape, enhance, or recreate natural-looking eyebrows.”

How much does it hurt?

Some people find the process uncomfortable, while others feel no pain at all. Everyone’s pain tolerance is different.

How long does it last?

“One to three years,” says Alexandra. “This depends on your skin type and most importantly, your at-home aftercare while your brows are healing.”

Are there any risks?

Discoloration only occurs when the process isn’t done correctly. “Good work stays the same throughout,” explains Alexandra. “The color will fade, but slowly, and will become lighter. Color only changes when the right color wasn’t mixed for you, which is the most common mistake. You can’t just choose a color [without] keeping in mind someone’s skin type and the skin’s undertone.”

Any pre-treatment tips?

“No Tylenol for 24 hours prior to the procedure,” Alexandra shares. “No Botox or facial fillers two weeks prior, no acids, vitamin or retinoid serums 24 hours prior. And finally, no radiation treatments for six months prior.”

What about aftercare?

This is mostly common sense. Don’t touch your brows for the first couple of weeks and (obviously) don’t wear makeup on them until they heal. “Avoid cleansers, soap and washcloths,” says Alexandra, as well as retinoids, and chemical exfoliants like AHAs and BHAs, as these can lighten the dye. B. Beautiful offers a complimentary consultation beforehand, during which all of the dos and don’ts will be explained to you.

How much does this cost?

Alexandra charges $650+, which includes the aforementioned consultation, the procedure, and a touch-up six weeks later.

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner

What is semi-permanent eyeliner?

“An eyeliner tattoo that can be as subtle or dramatic as the client likes,” says the founder of HRH (Her Royal Highness) Beauty, known only as Sally. The most popular type is “eyelash enhancement liner, where the eyeliner tattoo is completed right along the lash line, to create the illusion of fuller lashes, as well as accentuate the person’s eye shape.”

What’s the tattooing process like?

“We numb the treatment areas and then mix shades in front of the client, and test it on their skin to ensure they are satisfied with the color. We then do a drawing of the eyeliner and get the client’s approval to ensure the shape and style is exactly to their liking. Once we receive the client’s approval on shade, shape, and design, we begin the tattooing process while we continue to numb the area throughout the entire appointment. Each procedure takes approximately two hours from start to finish.”

How much does it hurt?

“Everyone has different pain tolerances,” explains Sally. “We’ve had many people feel so relaxed during the procedure that they fall asleep, whereas others have clenched their teeth and fists just waiting for the procedure to be over. However, most have said that it wasn’t as bad as they imagined it to be.”

How long does it last?

“Longevity varies depending on the client’s skin, lifestyle, aftercare, etc.,” says Sally. On average, clients can go two years between touch-ups.

Are there any risks?

“No, as long as you are going to a highly skilled artist who has been certified, … inspected by public health, licensed and insured, and educated in pharmacology, anatomy and physiology and medical contraindications. Then you should be A-OK.”

What is the aftercare process like?

“At HRH Beauty, we provide all of our clients with an aftercare kit and instructions. Clients are asked to apply the aftercare ointment daily for optimal healing. They must refrain from any injections around the treatment area for a minimum of two weeks after, stop using lash serums for a minimum of three months, and refrain from getting eyelash extensions or eyelash lifts until the eyeliner is fully healed.”

Freckle Tattoos

What are freckle tattoos?

“Small spots of pigment tattooed into the skin to replicate the look of natural freckles,” explains Amber Gotzmeister, owner of The Good Geisha.

What’s the tattooing process like?

“We start by mapping out the design with a marker [before tattooing]. Some clients like to map out their freckle placement themselves and sometimes they prefer we do it for them. Often they will come in with inspiration photos.”

How much does it hurt?

Luckily, not too much. They’re so small and quickly done (the process takes 30 minutes), so freckle tattoos don’t have a lot of pain associated with them. “The nose and closer to the eyes are the most sensitive, and may induce some sneezing,” says Gotzmeister.

How long does it last?

Unlike semi-permanent eyeliner and lip tattoos, freckle tattoos are permanent. “However, all tattoos fade with time and sun exposure, and the face happens to fade more quickly than other areas of the body,” explains Gotzmeister. But at the end of the day, everyone’s skin reacts to tattoo ink differently, so how long they last can differ from person to person.

Are there any risks?

“The body heals so quickly from such small tattoos that often they will lose up to 75% of what was put in,” Gotzmeister continues. “This is why we educate our clients to expect this, and it’s also the reason we do faux freckles over two sessions.” Another major risk is simply changing your mind about them. “I laser off natural freckles on just as many clients as I put them on,” says Gotzmeister, so it’s worth thinking about properly before making the commitment.

What’s aftercare like?

“Very simple,” says Gotzmeister. “Don’t touch them.” You should also wash your face gently until the tattoos have fully healed.

How much does this cost?

The Good Geisha charges $300 for two sessions, which last up to 30 minutes each.

Permanent Lip Liner and Tinting

What is permanent lip liner and tinting?

“Permanent lip liner and lip color are one in the same,” Sally continues. “We rarely get requests for just lip liner these days as it doesn’t create the most flattering appearance.” Instead, most clients are requesting full lip tattoos, which involve “a very advanced technique. At HRH Beauty, we have a very unique, artistic style where we can actually shade in the lip strategically to accentuate areas where the light would naturally hit, thus providing a plumping effect without any injections. Again, the intensity of the lip tattoo can be adjusted according to the client’s desires. We can do a very natural nude or blush lip color, or a very bright crimson red lip. It can be as natural as the client wishes, or as dramatic as he/she wants.” Either way, “the end result is the appearance of fuller lips with a more enhanced shape.”

What’s the tattooing process like?

Similar to the process of doing semi-permanent eyeliner, Sally draws on the shape, and gets client approval on everything from placement to color, before numbing the lip area and tattooing for about two hours.

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THIS IS NOT FILLER, IT’S OUR PERMANENT LIP SERVICE. Correcting old permanent lip tattoo. Client wanted the illusion of a more fuller and pouty lip. What is this lip treatment? We get a lot of questions about how this works. The permanent lip tattoo does NOT involve any type of injections, although the after photos may appear as though the lips have been injected. The lip tattoo provides your lips with fuller and more defined shape. Most of us have faded or a not so obvious vermillion border (lip line), therefore the permanent lip tattoo gives you that perfect pout and shape day in and day out. You can select any shade you would like, go more dramatic, or choose a more natural shade. The choice is yours! . . HRH (Her Royal Highness Beauty) Master Artist – Sally. . Over 15 years medical, aesthetic and education experience, Regulated Licensed Health Professional, Health Pass ✅, Business License ✅, Insured ✅ and Certified ✅, 100% disposable ✅and sterile environment✅. . For Appointments, book online or email info@hrhbeauty.com. . For Training at our Academy, email info@hrhbeauty.com or contact 416.882.7818. . Treatment performed: soft shading lips. . Tools Used: @fkirons @microbeauofficial . . Pigments: @minxmogul in ms naturalz . Promo Codes: Use HRH10 to get 10% OFF your next @minxmogul order. . . #lips #liptattoo #cosmetictattoo #permanentmakeup #lovewhatyoudo #fulllips #luxurybeauty #botox #lippermanentmakeup #microbladingeyebrows #eyebrowembroiderytoronto #wakeupmakeup #torontoeyebrows #hrhbeauty #hrhbrows #the6ixbeauties #tdotbeauty #yongestreet #yongeandeglinton #yongeandlawrence #eyelashextensionstoronto #eyebrowmicroblading #torontosalon #torontolife #torontobloggers #lipstick #torontogirl #torontobeauty #torontomicroblading #microbladingtoronto

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How long does it last?

Around two years, but annual touch-ups are a good idea to keep the color looking fresh and vibrant.

What is the aftercare process like?

No hot liquids for 48 hours!

Related: 4 Brilliant Ways to Heal a Tattoo Faster

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