Permanent Makeup Guide: Cosmetic Tattooing Types & Costs

Permanent Makeup Guide: Cosmetic Tattooing Types & Costs

Permanent makeup has been the go-to choice for all kinds of women for decades. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up in the morning, rinse your face, and just go, with your face already made up?

Whether you just find it difficult to get that perfect eyeliner shape, or if you would like to be able to skip a few makeup steps in your routine, permanent makeup might be worth considering. However, as with any major cosmetic procedure, you should know exactly what you’re getting into before getting permanent makeup done.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about permanent makeup – exactly what it is, and how it is done, all of the pros and cons, the different kinds of permanent makeup services that exist, the safety concerns, maintenance, and even how to choose the perfect permanent makeup artist for you!

Permanent Makeup Guide: Contents

What Is Permanent Makeup?

Dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, permanent makeup, also known as cosmetic tattooing or micropigmentation, is a shallow tattoo that is meant to create the look one would normally achieve with various makeup products. The most frequent permanent makeup options people choose to have done are eyeliner tattoos, lip line tattoos, and eyebrow tattoos.

How Is Permanent Makeup Done?

Using a single-use, disposable needle, a tattoo machine, and special cosmetic tattoo ink, a trained professional injects the ink into the dermis – that is, the central layer of the skin, below the epidermis (the top layer).

The tattoo machine (never a gun) used for cosmetic tattooing is much smaller than the average tattoo gun, and is shaped a little like a pen. It doesn’t inject the ink quite as deep into the skin as a traditional tattoo machine would, which means that permanent makeup does not last as long as an average tattoo.

Who Is Permanent Makeup Good for?

While everyone can consider getting permanent makeup done, there are people that are advised to go for it.

• People with alopecia and other conditions that can cause eyebrow and eyelash hair loss.

• Those who lack fine motor skills, and struggle to apply their own makeup.

• Anyone who would like to cut down on the hassle of doing makeup.

• Anyone with sensitive eyes or an allergy to many makeup products (just make sure to have a patch test done with the ink first!)

People Who Should Not Have Permanent Makeup Done

And, of course, there are people that aren’t advised to try permanent makeup ever.

• Those taking blood thinners or who have diabetes.

• Anyone suffering from immunosuppressive illnesses, like HIV.

• Anyone with blemishes or active acne where they would like the permanent makeup applied.

• Those with skin prone to scarring.

• Anyone going through pregnancy, or anyone who is currently breastfeeding.

Pros & Cons of Getting Permanent Makeup

Like anything else, permanent makeup also has its pros and cons, and you should carefully examine them before deciding to get one done.


• Permanent makeup conveniently saves the hassle of applying makeup every day.

• Lasts a long time, but is not totally permanent.

• Perfect for those who have a difficult time applying makeup due to mobility or sight issues.


• Permanent makeup can hurt, even with the use of topical anesthetic.

• There are some risks associated with the procedure (see above).

• Some mistakes can be difficult to correct.

• Colors sometimes change overtime.

• After-care is quite involved.

While it may seem like the cons outnumber the pros, the cons are fairly minor for the most part, while the pros of permanent makeup can seriously improve a person’s life.


Is Permanent Makeup Safe?

Permanent makeup, like any tattooing, includes some risks. However, as long as you take necessary precautions, you will likely end up with phenomenal results and no serious side effects.

Necessary precautions include choosing a well-trained and experienced professional to perform your permanent makeup service (more information on that in a bit), and following all of their instructions to a T.

Potential risks of permanent makeup include:

• Allergic reaction to the pigment (a professional permanent makeup artist will conduct a patch test before tattooing large areas).

• Scarring, either due to poor technique on the part of the artist, or if you are predisposed to scarring.

• Infection, either due to poor after-care or due to poor sanitary conditions at the salon/ studio where the tattooing was performed.

• Infection with blood-borne diseases, like HIV or hepatitis, due to poor (and even negligent and criminal) sanitary conditions.

• Negative reactions to sun exposure or MRI’s due to poor quality pigment or allergies.

• Negative reactions to the topical anesthetic used to numb the skin may also occur, so it is also important to patch test the anesthetic.

Preparing for the Permanent Makeup Procedure

There are a few things you should do before having your permanent makeup done to ensure that you have the best experience and best results possible!

• Be mentally prepared for the procedure. If you are nervous, try meditating to get yourself in a calm state of mind.

• Avoid drinking coffee the day of the procedure.

• Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or taking drugs a few days before your permanent makeup appointment.

• Keep your skin as healthy and robust as possible, by keeping it well moisturized.

• For one week before the procedure avoid using skin thinning or exfoliating skin care products, like glycolic acid or retinol.

What to Expect After Permanent Makeup

As you finally have made up your mind to go for cosmetic tattooing, you might also want to learn what to expect after the procedure.

• While you may bleed a little after being tattooed, there should not be any bleeding once the cosmetic tattooing is done.

• The area you have had tattooed might be swollen, especially the day after the procedure.

• It will be sore for a few days after being tattooed.

• After two or three days, the skin might begin to flake, peel, or scab. This should end after a day or two.

Aftercare and Maintenance of Permanent Makeup

Following proper aftercare procedures is just as important for how your permanent makeup will turn out as the skill of the person performing your permanent makeup procedure. If you don’t take good care of your cosmetic tattoo, the shape and color of your tattoo can be compromised, and you may even end up with an infection.

These are the steps you should take to properly care for your fresh cosmetic tattoo:

• Avoid touching the tattooed area as much as possible, except for when cleaning.

• Always wash your hands before touching the tattooed skin.

• Twice a day for the first two weeks, apply a nourishing cream to the tattooed area (some permanent makeup technicians might give you a special cream that might even be antiseptic).

• For the first week, avoid applying anything but the special cream to the tattooed area. No makeup, no lip balms, no oils, no exfoliants, and no face or eye creams.

• Avoid sun exposure by wearing a hat when going outdoors. Ask your permanent makeup technician about using a zinc oxide cream for sun protection.

• Do not pick at the tattoo, even if the skin over it begins to peel or crust.

• Do not go swimming, and avoid excessive sweating for the first week following the permanent makeup application.


Choosing the Right Cosmetic Tattoo Artist

Choosing the person who will do your permanent makeup is an extremely important process. You have to be 100% confident in the artist’s tattooing skills and credentials, as well as in their hygiene practices. Additionally, you want to make sure they are using high quality, top of the line permanent makeup tools and cosmetic inks.

Begin the search by researching different salons and aesthetic clinics that provide the permanent makeup service that you are looking for. Read reviews, and look at the pictures of their permanent makeup artists’ work.

Once you’ve settled on a salon, book a consultation. During the consultation, make sure the salon or clinic looks clean.

Ask the technician about their certification, how they sanitize their tools, and what kind of inks, needles, and anesthetic they use. You want to make sure they use high quality materials, that their needles are single-use and disposable, and that they autoclave their tattooing machine.

Next, explain to the artist exactly how you want the permanent makeup to look. If you happen to have reference pictures, they can help, but remember that your natural face shape will be different from that of the person in the picture.

The artist will use makeup to draw an approximation of what your permanent makeup will look like. If you like what they’ve drawn, you’re good to go! You can have your cosmetic tattoo done there and then, or you can book an appointment for later on.

If you don’t like what they’ve drawn, explain what kind of changes you would like them to make. If they simply can’t create a shape that you like, even with your feedback, or if they don’t seem to understand what you want, find a different artist or a different salon, and begin the process all over again. Do not get permanent makeup done by an artist you are not completely comfortable with.

Cost of Permanent Makeup

A permanent makeup session can cost between $200 and $1500, depending on what it is that you want, and the clinic you end up choosing. A lip line tattoo will normally be on the lower end of the scale, costing between $200 and $500, with a full lipstick tattoo costing up to $600.

Eyeliner and eyeshadow tattoos are somewhere in the…

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