Permanent Makeup FAQ

What is Permanent Makeup ?

Permanent cosmetic makeup is easiest described as cosmetic tattooing. The specialised techniques used for permanent cosmetics are often referred to as “micro-pigmentation”, “micro-pigment implantation” or “derma-graphics”. The cosmetic implantation technique deposits coloured pigment into the upper reticular layer of the dermis (skin). Also see “Is this Permanent Makeup for Me?”

How are Permanent Cosmetic Procedures Performed ?

Permanent cosmetics procedures are performed using various devices including the traditional tattoo coil machine, the pen or rotary machine (includes the digital rotary machine), and the non-machine or hand device. The process includes a consultation, the application (implantation) of pigment, and at least one follow up visit for the evaluation of healing and pigment colour

How can I benefit from Permanent Makeup ?

Permanent makeup can be of benefit to the young and old. People who suffer from skin allergies and sensitivities and who cannot wear traditional makeup as a result, find permanent cosmetic procedures especially useful. Active people who like to look their best while partaking in activities like swimming, hiking, biking, tennis, aerobics, or any other activity that leads to the “sweating off” and reapplying of makeup also benefit from permanent makeup. Permanent cosmetics is of further value to visually challenged individuals who find it difficult to apply makeup and to others who suffer from dexterity related conditions like Arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and strokes.

What type of Permanent Cosmetic procedures can be done ?

Permanent cosmetic procedures can have a subtle or dramatic effect, depending on your requirements. Procedures include:
E Eyebrows

Eyeliner, Top and Bottom

Lip liner, Lip Colour, and/or Blend

Scar Camouflage

Beauty Marks

Hair Imitation

Lash Enhancement

Areola Re-pigmentation

PLEASE NOTE that some of these procedures use more advanced techniques (para-medical techniques) and thus require an experienced technician with advanced training.

Are Permanent Cosmetics really permanent ?

Permanent cosmetic procedures are considered permanent because pigment is tattooed into the upper reticular part of the dermal layer of the skin and thus, cannot be washed off. However, as with any tattoo or colorant (pigment) in general, fading can and often does occur.  This result is periodic maintenance referred to as colour re-enhancement or colour refreshing being required. The scientific structure of pigments and the requirement for periodic refreshing is identical to that of tinted hair colour; faded material on furniture that may be located near a window which is subject to sun exposure; or house paint that is exposed to the sun and other environmental elements.

Periodic maintenance is a good opportunity to re-evaluate one’s colour and design preferences.  Whilst the concept of “permanent” may seem like a perfectly good idea, ones’ tastes and style changes with time. The fact that most people will require periodic colour refreshment of their permanent cosmetics is the opportune time to, in conjunction with your technician, re-evaluate your overall appearance profile and decide whether any changes would be appropriate in accordance thereto.

The longevity of permanent cosmetics varies from person to person depending on life style – sun exposure, the colour/s used for the permanent cosmetic procedure, and also the topical products applied to the skin.

How Much does Permanent Makeup Cost ?

Permanent makeup procedures vary in cost, but on average, expenditure generally ranges between R1 200 and R 2 800 per procedure.

Advanced work may be charged at R 800 to R 1 000 per hour. These procedures are commonly referred to aspara-medical procedures.

How Long Does Each Procedure Take ?

Initial procedures generally take around 2 to 2 ½ hours. The initial procedure involves a fair amount of record taking; photographs need to be taken; desired design and colour options need to be discussed; the actual procedure needs to be performed; and the aftercare requirements discussed. Follow up or colour refresher procedures do not usually require the same amount of time.

Is Permanent Cosmetic Procedures Painful ?

Most people experience some discomfort. This severity of the discomfort varies in accordance with each individual’s pain threshold. Various topical anesthetics have been developed for the permanent cosmetics industry which does help to minimize discomfort. Your technician should discuss the methods available with you to determine which is most appropriate for your specific procedure and pain threshold.

To put this into perspective: thousands of body art tattoos are performed annually, possibly millions.  As a rule, traditional tattoo professionals do not use any anesthetics for their tattoo procedures. Anesthetics for permanent cosmetics are more of a tattoo service luxury because of the nature of the tattoo location and the fact that permanent cosmetics falls into the beauty treatment category.

Is it Safe ?

If proper sterilization and disinfection guidelines are met, permanent cosmetics are completely safe. Professionals in the permanent cosmetics industry routinely attend Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) classes. The guidelines that get taught at these classes include (but are not limited to) the following.

IMPORTANT! Things to look out for:

Only new and sterile needles should be used for each client. New, sterile needles should be opened in your presence.

Disposable sterilized one-time use machine parts should be purchased by the artist and disposed of in a sharps container immediately after the procedure has been completed.

Personal protection equipment such as disposable one-time use aprons and gloves should be new for each client and changed during the procedure if needed.

The technician should be clean and neat.

Disposable one-time use chair/bed covering should be new for each client.

The room or treatment area should be in an area free from other contaminants. The SPCP whom is affiliated with PCASA has taken a position against permanent cosmetic procedures conducted at trade shows and in salons where nail dust, aerosols or other chemicals are present.

What if I don’t like it ?

Although the procedure is considered permanent, these procedures do have flexibility in changing colour and shape to some extent, depending on the expertise of your technician. Keep in mind that colours will appear darker immediately following the procedure but will soften and lighten during the healing process. The healing time is different for each individual and each procedure. It is very important to realize that often the new procedure represents something somewhat different; at times colour where there was no colour at all or very little.
It takes time to get use to a new look. Very often this applies to eyebrowswhich were sparse and unnoticeable before the permanent cosmetic brow procedure. Eyeliner colour is more evident due to the contrast to the skin colour.  Lip colour can take up to six weeks to reflect the final colour. Be patient.
After the procedure has healed and you are able to form an objective opinion about the outcome, the only reason for not liking your permanent cosmetics would be if you chose your technician poorly. Take note of the following when selecting your technician:
If you cannot communicate with your technician, it is possible that your desires will not be realized.

If your technician recognizes your requests, but does not take your desires for colour or design into account, you should not proceed with the procedure.

Don’t request eyebrow colour based on your tinted scalp hair colour. That is subject to change and it may affect how you then feel about the colour of your permanent cosmetic eyebrows.  Eyebrowcolour should be selected based on the undertone of your skin and the colour of your eyebrow hair (if any).

Most well-trained technicians will not perform a procedure if the design and/or colour requested by the client is not reasonable. If your requests are turned down by one or more technicians, re-think what you are asking for.

Permanent cosmetics are not easily removed.  Make good decisions up front. You can enjoy the liberation permanent cosmetics provides when you do your research and choose a qualified professional that you work well with.

Which Technician should I choose ?

Choose a technician carefully by considering the individual’s training, experience, compliance with local laws, and the technician’s “before and after” photograph portfolio. It is important to remember that the shape and proper placement of the procedure is as important as the right colour. Professionals have studied colour theory and skin undertones which results in the colour requested.  Unskilled people who have not pursued the required education do not have the knowledge required to translate pigment colour to skin to achieve the desired outcome.
The preferred look is obtained during the course of consultation, initial procedure and follow-up appointment(s). Interaction between the client and the technician is of utmost importance.

Is Permanent Cosmetic Makeup a Career For Me ?

The opportunities for skilled Permanent Cosmetics technicians are impressive. Career and business opportunities will however vary depending on location and the individual technician’s training and skill level. Many nurses and a few doctors, as well as hair, skin, and nail care professionals are choosing to train in permanent cosmetics.

Are There any Side Effects During or After the Procedure ?

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. As examples; an eyelash enhancement will show very little response to the tattooing procedure compared to a more moderate response when wide eyeliner is performed.  The same applies to lip colour procedures.  A lip liner or blended lip liner will show less effects of the procedure than that of a full lip colour.  Also, some people swell more from minor skin infractions than others.
During the procedure there may be some minor bleeding.  This again, is client specific.  Many people take blood thinners on a daily basis so some slight bleeding would be expected.  Others show little or no signs of bleeding.  Bruising is rare but again, if a person is on blood thinners, bruising could occur.  Eyebrows rarely, if ever produce any bruising whilst minor bruising during eyeliner procedures is possible if the skin being tattooed is very thin and close to the vascular system.  This also applies to lip procedures in the event of a client being more mature. If bruising does occur, it is typically minor and subsides in a few days.

There is usually some tenderness for a few days. The colour is much darker than you may expect for the first six to ten days.

Other less often reported side effects are difficult to determine due to the individuality of each person’s biological system. This is why professional permanent cosmetic technicians require a client history profile to assess different factors that may contribute to your experience after the tattooing procedure has been completed.

Do the Pigments Pose Allergy Problems ?

People can develop an allergy to anything, at any time. However, pigment allergies are considered rare. Some doctors recommend that people with environmental allergies or allergies to conventional makeup have permanent cosmetic procedures because they can eliminate the need for cosmetic products that people are sensitive to. Ask your technician if they use pigments that are formulated from powders taken from the FDA’s Food Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) listings. Although the FDA does not at this time approve or disapprove tattoo pigments, the SPCP considers pigments formulated from the FD&C listing the safest origin of pigment powders for permanent cosmetic pigment formulations.  Also PCASA and SPCPpigment suppliers are required to list the ingredients on their pigment labels.

Is There any Possibility for Medical Problems ?

With today’s health standards, the possibility that you would have any problems or reactions from these procedures is almost non-existent. PCASA member professionals are given continued opportunities for education in practicing precise methods of disinfection and sterilization. Post procedural instructions, if followed carefully, will greatly reduce any risk. Medical problems associated with permanent cosmetics are often linked to poor attention to the required aftercare process on behalf of the client.
Choose a time for procedures when you feel confident you can follow the simple, but very important after care instructions.

What’s a Touch-Up and Do I Need One ?

Often the tattooed colour is not perfect after the initial procedure heals. Permanent cosmetic procedures are a process and at least one follow-up to the initial procedure should be scheduled. It is recommended that any required detail work to the original procedure be performed no sooner than four weeks after the original procedure. The minimum standard for follow-up detail work for lip procedures is six weeks. Lips have a different healing agenda than procedures performed on other parts of the face due to their delicate nature.

The cited time frames will vary depending on the health profile and age of the client, but these are good minimum standards for consideration.

Can I Still Have an MRI Scan ?

Numerous studies have shown that even for people who have large body tattoos there is little to no potential for irritation resulting from an MRI. In the rare instance where discomfort resulted, it was localized and very temporary. However, with that said, it is prudent to advise your MRI technician that you have permanent cosmetics.
For a listing of member technicians in your area, see our online permanent makeup technician listings or Contact Us.