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Lip Procedures

Are you tired of refreshing your lipstick or lip tint several times during the day? Do long-wear lipsticks make your lips dry and chapped? Have you lost colour in your natural lips due to aging? Are you unhappy with the symmetry and fullness of your lips? For these reasons, and many more, people all over the world are finding that permanent cosmetic lip tattooing is perfect for them!

 Full lip colour can be applied in either a natural hue or a more vivid one. You can wear your permanent lip colour on its own, with a gloss or lip balm, and when feeling like a colour change, you can apply different shades of lipstick over your permanent lip colour. You will find that the colour lasts much longer when applied over permanent cosmetic lip colour than it did when applied to a bare lip.

Because the colouring and shape of the natural lip is unpredictable, it is common for a artist to request you attend a consultation before an appointment for the actual procedure is scheduled. At the consultation, your colour and shape objectives and probability of success with permanent cosmetic pigments and techniques will be discussed.

Permanent cosmetic professionals typically ask if you have ever had a cold sore or fever blister on the lips. If your answer to this question is “yes,” you will likely be requested to speak to your medical practitioner regarding a medication formulated specifically for a breakout – antiviral medication.

If you and the consulting artist have agreed to go forward and schedule an appointment, the artist may suggest that the procedure not be performed too close to any important events. Lips experience minor swelling after the procedure and appear very vibrant for a few days thereafter, dryness associated with the healing process requires the application of a moisturizing product. As with any artistic enhancement service, techniques will vary from artist to artist.

The process of permanent lip tattooing procedures – Some artists apply an anaesthetic after the consultation phase of the appointment before the cosmetic tattooing begins. After the anaesthetic has taken effect and has been removed, the lip procedure can commence. The artist will proceed to draw or “map” the area in which they plan to do the tattooing, you will have an opportunity to approve the design and colour.

It is very important that you, and the permanent cosmetic professional of your choice, have thorough verbal communication to manage expectations. As the client, you must convey details of your design and colour preferences and the artist must understand these preferences and translate them over to tattooing artistic techniques.

The workstation will be assembled with one-time-use accessories, a sterilized needle will be opened and assembled into the device or tool, then the procedure begins.

The lip design which has been approved by the client is tattooed on. Some artists provide breaks during the cosmetic tattooing process to allow the client to sit up and take stock of how the design tattooing process is proceeding. Anaesthetic may or may not be used throughout the procedure. This is dependent on the artist.

When the permanent lip procedure has been completed, aftercare instructions are provided. Some artists provide products if any are referred to in the aftercare instructions. A follow up appointment (touch-up) is normally scheduled in six to twelve weeks to determine how the lip procedure healed, and if any further work is needed. Permanent makeup is considered a two-step procedure for first time permanent makeup clients; therefore, touch-up session/s are strongly recommended to get satisfactory results

Cosmetic Lip Tattooing: Client Notes & Tips

  • If you want to always look your best, it may be time for a change from your traditional makeup routine. Discuss your lip design and colour objectives with your chosen artist.  Much of what can be offered to you in the way of colour change will be based on your natural lip colouring. Although natural is always recommended, there are a variety of colours available for discussion.
  • Sometimes lip liner alone can look artificial. If the colour complements your skin tone or you really like the look of a definitive line around the lips, then lip liner may be a good choice for you. If your choice of colour contrasts with your skin tone, a full lip colour procedure is a better choice. Remember, small lips will only look smaller with a defining lip liner, so a full lip procedure is recommended in this case as well.
  • Natural colours will look like your natural lip, but better, just as if you were born with luscious lips. You can always put opaque lipstick over any permanent lip colour to change your look, depending on your outfit, mood, or special occasion.  Lip colours that depart from your natural lip colour (or slightly darker or lighter) should be discussed with your artist at a consultation. Because lips have a natural cool undertone, matching a specific desirable colour is dependent upon the canvas (the client’s skin) the pigment is to be applied to.
  • The final shape of the lip is incredibly important. For clients who want to have larger appearing lips, usually going to the very outer limits of the vermilion edge of the lip itself is sufficient.  Extreme caution must be taken when extending the colour into the surrounding skin. This is never recommended! Minor alterations to the lip line to attain symmetry are routine. The artist will draw on the template to follow during tattooing and show the client before proceeding.
  • Immediately after the tattooing process the colour will appear very vibrant. Within a few days the outer layer of the tattooing will exfoliate. Many times, this exfoliation process is inconsistent within the lips. It is important not to disturb the on-going exfoliation process by picking at portions of the lip that have not begun this process.  After approximately a week, most of the residual lip tattooing has exfoliated off the entire lip area. The lips are somewhat tender and often remain that way to the touch for several weeks. Therefore, it is recommended to wait a minimum of six to twelve weeks before the follow up procedure. Within this waiting period the lips will appear different.  They may take on a “frosty” appearance for a few days off and on. They may appear more vibrant if the body is unusually warm (as an example after a warm shower.) Conversely, they may appear duller if the body is unusually cool (as an example if you live in an area that has a cold climate or on a ski trip, etc.) Within the six-twelve-week period the lip colour settles in, and the colour seen is the final colour resulting from the lip tattoo process.  When you return to your artist for the follow up appointment, the appearance of the colour and design will be discussed, and adjustments made where deemed appropriate.
  • Finally, remember that permanent lip colour may fade considerably in seven to ten years –sooner with a lot of sun exposure. You will almost always need at least one touch-up appointment and expect two.  Be sure to tell your artist if you suffer from cold sores (herpes simplex).  You must protect all permanent cosmetic colour from the sun so choose a lip balm that is petrolatum free and has a good sun protection factor.


Permanent makeup is easiest described as cosmetic tattooing. The specialised techniques used for permanent cosmetics are often referred to as “micro-pigmentation” or “semi-permanent makeup.” The cosmetic implantation technique deposits coloured pigment into the upper reticular layer of the dermis (skin).

Permanent cosmetic procedures are performed using various devices, including, but not limited to, digital rotary machines and hand devices. The process includes a consultation, the application of anaesthetics (dependent on artist), followed by the “implantation” of pigment into the skin using specialised needles. Permanent makeup is to be performed in a clean and sterile environment. At least one or more follow up visits is strongly recommended for evaluating the healed design work and colour of the pigment.

Interest in permanent cosmetics spans the young, to the more mature. Permanent makeup is intended to enhance ones features and boost self-confidence.

It is especially valuable to people who can’t wear traditional cosmetics due to allergies and skin sensitivities; active people who want to look their best for sports activities such as swimming, hiking, biking, tennis, aerobics; and those who don’t want to worry about “sweating off” or reapplying cosmetics.

Permanent cosmetics also benefits the vision challenged who have difficulty applying their cosmetics; and others with dexterity related conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke survivors, and busy people who don’t have time to apply and refresh makeup throughout the day and evening.

Permanent cosmetic procedures can have a subtle or dramatic effect, depending on your requirements.

Procedures include:
• Eyebrows – Shaded, Strokes or a Combination
• Eyeliner - Top and/or Bottom, Lash Line Enhancements
• Lip liner or Full Lip Colour
• Medical Camouflaging – Burn Victims, Scars etc.
• Cosmetic Camouflaging – Stretchmarks
• Scalp Micropigmentation – Baldness and Hair Density
• Areola Re-pigmentation – For Breast Cancer Survivors

The industry is constantly evolving, new procedure trends can be expected frequently. Some of these include but are not limited to freckles and beauty spots.

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

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, fading can and often does occur.  Therefore, periodic maintenance is required which is often referred to as touch-ups, colour boosters or colour refreshers.

The fact that most people will require periodic colour refreshment of their permanent cosmetics is the opportune time to re-evaluate your overall appearance profile and decide whether any changes would be appropriate.

The longevity of permanent cosmetics varies from person to person depending various environmental, medical and biological factors such as – sun exposure, topical products and treatments applied to the skin, medication etc.

Permanent makeup procedures vary in cost, this is dependent on the artist’s experience level as well as location.

It can take anything from 1:30 to 4:00 hours, this is dependent on the artists experience level, procedure type, and the area size that needs to be covered.

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.

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.

l thought the procedure is considered permanent, these procedures do have flexibility in changing colour and shape to some extent, depending on the expertise of your artist. Keep in mind that colours will appear darker immediately following the procedure due to oxidation but will soften and lighten during the healing process. The healing time is different for each individual and each procedure.

After the procedure has healed and you are able to form an objective opinion about the outcome, you can reassess and decide which would be the best path forward. You can either tweak the colour and shape, select a new artist who is able to render results more in-line with your expectations, or undergo removal with either laser or alternative removal techniques.

Take note of the following:

  • If you cannot communicate with your artist, it is possible that your desires will not be realized. It is important to bring visual aids to make sure your artist understands your expectations.
  • If your artist recognizes your requests but does not take your desires for colour or design into account, you should not proceed with the procedure.
  • Most well-trained artists 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 artists, re-think what you are asking for.
Choose an artist carefully by considering the individual’s training, experience, compliance with local laws, and the artist’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 artist is of utmost importance.

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.

Permanent cosmetic procedures require no downtime and is considered non-invasive.

Pinpoint bleeding is totally normal during procedures. Afterwards, minor swelling can be expected. Bruising is rare but can occur for various medical reasons, such as a person being on blood thinners. There is also some tenderness for a few days afterwards and scabbing is part of the healing journey.

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 artists require a client history profile to assess different factors that may contribute to your experience after the tattooing procedure has been completed.

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 artist 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.

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 by the client, will greatly reduce any risk.

Numerous studies have shown that even for people who have large body tattoos, there is little to no potential risk 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 important to advise your MRI artist that you have permanent cosmetics.

The opportunities for skilled Permanent Cosmetics artists are impressive. Career and business opportunities will however vary depending on location and the individual artist’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.


  • Members are to maintain high professional standards consistent with sound practices
  • Members are to conduct business relationships in a manner that is fair to all.
  • Members will promote professionalism in the cosmetic tattoo/permanent makeup industry without discrimination against any fellow member’s background.
  • Members will further the interests of the Association and encourage cooperation throughout the cosmetic tattoo industry.
  • Members will refrain from any immoral or unethical behavior in their business dealings.
  • Members will strive to participate in continuing education to upgrade and improve their knowledge and skills.
  • Members will use only those tattoo products, imported from reputable companies and will not use any product deemed unsafe or improper by the FDA.
  • Members agree that manufacturers and distributors of equipment or supplies, including pigments and anesthetics, will not provide false or misleading statements to the consumer and will fully disclose all ingredients.
  • Members will utilize safe practices of sterilization of all machine or device components that can potentially be contaminated by bloodborne pathogens. Disposable parts, including needles, will not be reused.
  • Members agree the application of permanent makeup is in fact tattooing. Members will not deceive their clients regarding this aspect of permanent cosmetics by stating “this is not tattooing.”
  • Members understand the process of tattooing is not temporary or completely painless. Members will make no false or misleading statements to the public in their advertisements, brochures, or consultation materials regarding the process of tattooing.
  • Members agree that any training program at the fundamental level shall be no less than 100 hours (Not less than 65 classroom hours) in duration and shall include practical components under direct instructor supervision. Members agree not to teach any such program which falls short of these minimum standards (refer to PCASA Training Guidelines).
  • Members may not appropriate any Association materials, including items such as articles, videos, images, and membership lists for their own personal gain. Members may not reproduce or use any of said materials, including the membership list, for any reason without the prior written approval of the Board.
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