What to Consider Before Getting Permanent Makeup

May 10, 2017 at 12:15 p.m. ET
Image: Nikolasvn/Getty Images

Applying makeup every day can be a time-consuming task that we tire of, but for those who suffer from certain health issues or have a disability, it can be difficult or impossible. There is a solution — permanent makeup — but it's not without its risks. Let's look at the pros and cons to see what's really involved in applying (and living with) permanent makeup, such as eyeliner, eyebrows and lipstick.

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Permanent makeup is, well, permanent

Permanent makeup, like all tattoos, is permanent. When you wash your face, when you get up in the morning, when you shower — you're always wearing makeup.

Cleveland Clinic cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal does warn that there is a caveat. "Removing tattoo pigment can be very difficult depending on the color. It is a long, painful, expensive process to remove the ink, and many times, all of the ink cannot be removed," she says.

It can fade

Over time, skin cells replace and renew, which can lead to fading color. Exposure to sunlight can do the same. This means you may want to go back in to get touched up so your makeup always looks sharp.

There are risks

Infection is a risk any time the skin is breached. Khetarpal says, "Make sure they use medical-grade sterilization and high-quality ink. Also, look for someone who gives natural results, and ask about their follow-up care policy." Swelling, bleeding and crusting are also risks, although these are often temporary problems and resolve once the healing process is over.

There is also the possibility of an allergic reaction to the ink, and experts recommend doing a small test in an inconspicuous spot (such as behind the ear). Also, some folks are prone to forming keloid scarring, and there can be even more troubling risks, such as loss of eyelashes or severe eyelid injury.

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Trends can change

Another thing to consider is that makeup is prone to trends, and those can and do change over time. Khetarpal suggests, "Always start with a minimalistic approach to look natural because less is more."

Do your research

It's vital to ensure you're going to a quality practitioner. There are several different types of specialists that practice micropigmentation, from tattoo artists to aestheticians to physicians. Schedule a consultation and ask questions such as how long they've been practicing and what credentials they have. Also, be sure you glance through their portfolio. Speak with a prior customer if you can to find out about the practitioner's skill level, the quality of their work and whether or not they've had to go back in for a touch-up.

The bottom line

While permanent makeup is a pretty big decision to make, discussing it with a qualified professional and chatting with others who've made the leap can help you make the choice. Consider all the pros (including makeup when you get up in the morning) and the cons (possible risks) and contact a professional in your area for a consultation.

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