When scheduling an appointment date for a permanent makeup procedure, keep in mind the healing time of the procedure. You will need a few days afterward without social plans or strenuous activity. You will not look your best (swelling, oozing, & looks like wet paint) so plan activities around the house. Plan a shopping trip ahead of time for items you will need: ointments, straws, napkins for blotting, Q-tips, OTC pain reliever, prescriptions, a good book or movies. Get ahead on your dirty work – no lawn mowing or chores that will get dirt/ bacteria on the healing area. Do not have a procedure right before going on vacation because:
1) you need healing time – you will not look like you had a makeover at the mall
2) you may not be able to avoid sun, wind, or other items listed in post-care instructions
3) if you had a question or permanent makeup problem it would be best to be near your permanent makeup artist and local physician.
Do not wear your good clothes for the procedure because pigment might splatter on them. Pigment washes out of most clothes, but not your favorite ones. Wear something comfortable. We have heated throw blankets if you get cold easily.
- Do not wear contact lens during the procedure or for 24 hrs after.
- Bring sunglasses to wear home. Eyes may be light sensitive.
- Do not dye or perm lashes for 2 days prior.
- Do not use eyelash curler the day of the procedure.
If you have had any type of eye surgery, consult with the physician about how long you should wait before having a permanent eyeliner procedure. Most physicians are giving a 2 month ok after cataract, lasik, and blepharoplasty.
Do not tweeze, wax, or dye brows for 2 days prior.
Electrolysis should not be done for a week prior.
- If you get cold sores you will need an antiviral prescription. Physician usually instructs to begin taking it 3 days before procedure, for a 7-10 day course.
- If you have had any type of lip surgery, consult with the physician about how long you should wait before having a permanent makeup procedure on the lips. Most physicians are giving a 3 week ok after lip filler injections like collagen or Restylane. Permanent makeup artists have noticed poor color retention in lips that have received collagen injections within the previous 6 months, longer for restylane. There has even been a little pigment migration along lip edges with Restylane. It may be best not to have lip filler injections and permanent lip color within the same year. If the lip surgery involves an incision (like a lip implant), the incision needs to mature about 6 months before tattooing on top of it.
- Oral prosthesis dentures/ partials/ braces and tongue piercing bars may increase risk of getting bacterial and/or fungal infection from the mouth to the lips. Frequent or recent sinus infection puts lips at risk of infection. Denture wearers generally carry a higher candida/ yeast count. Cutaneous candidiasis/ candidosis is more common in older women (angular stomatitis – perlèche, angular cheilitis). Recent antiobiotic therapy can be responsible for a high candida count. Steroid medications and antacid drugs can allow candida to overpopulate. Smokers tend to have a high count also. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The bacteria-yeast balance in the mouth can get out of whack, and the oral saliva will get in the holes made by tattooing lips. Lips can get infected easily. Bacterial infections clear up more quickly than Candida Albicans infections. It is possible to have a co-infection when both bacteria and fungus are involved. It is possible to get a candida infection right after clearing up a bacterial infection. More lip infection information will be on the lips special problems page.
GENERAL PERMANENT MAKEUP POST-PROCEDURE AFTER-CARE INSTRUCTIONS
Cold packs have not shown to make a noticeable difference in reducing permanent makeup swelling, but they feel good on the skin and are a comfort measure. Cooling a skin wound is beneficial; freezing it is not. Using refrigerator temperature cold packs is safer for damaged dermis than freezer temperature cold packs. The traumatized tissue is already in a delicate condition and can get frost damage. Slight cooling of the skin a few times after a permanent makeup procedure can be done by applying wet tea bags, cloths, or gel compresses that were placed in the refrigerator (not freezer) in a ziplock bag. If you like to use bags of frozen peas, place a wet washcloth between your skin and the bag. Clients that leave it alone and let nature take its course heal better than the ones that frantically try to help the process. Cold packs are contraindicated for anyone with poor skin circulation, Raynaud’s, cold allergy/ cold urticaria, and other skin/ vascular/ blood disorders that react to cold temperatures.
- A permanent makeup procedure is the equivalent of a skin-deep wound – like a scratch you might get around the house. Expect it to ooze a little, scab a little, and heal in a similar time frame.
- May cool the skin a few times after permanent makeup procedure with cold pack (or wet and chill chamomile tea bags) for 10 min. every couple of hours the first day. Don’t overdo it. May switch to warm moist pack (or tea bags) after the second day.
- Keep moist with healing ointment at all times while outer healing occurs (3-5 days eyes, 7-10 days lips).
- Apply antibiotic ointment twice a day for 2-3 days. The antibiotic ointment is more likely to cause a red itchy reaction with prolonged or continuous use. The antibiotic ointment can be whichever brand you like to use at home (bacitracin, polysporin etc). You may use your favorite moisturizers, serums, or healing ointments that have vitamins in it. Clients do best with water soluble or non comedogenic / pore clogging products that let the skin breathe – especially for the prolonged use of ointment for lip tattoo. If a product stings or burns when you apply it do not use it.
- Notify permanent makeup artist or physician at first sign of allergic reaction or infection. If you suspect a problem is developing, the first thing to do is switch the type of ointment you are using. The ointment is often causing the problem. An occasional slight healing itch is normal. Constant intense itching, abnormal thick yellow discharge, yellow crust, hot burning pain, lumps, bumps, and blisters are not normal.
- Avoid strenuous activity for 2 days. Increased blood pressure and dilated blood vessels increases swelling and oozing. Also, sweat running into a wound stings.
- No Scrubbing. Do not rub, wipe, or scratch area. Use patting motions only.
- Keep area clean. Blot or rinse off oozing. Soap/ cleansers may be used as long as they are not alcohol based and do not have anti-aging acids or acne acids in it. Some cleansing chemicals might burn or bleach. If you wouldn’t use a product on any other type of injury, don’t use it on the healing permanent makeup. Rinse and pat dry.
- Do not expose the area to full pressure of the shower. You don’t want the water to beat on it, but water will not erase the tattoo despite the myths being told. Not keeping it clean sets it up for infection. Germs love the extra warmth generated by inflamed tissue, and they like the moistness provided by the oozing and ointment. Germs will be breeding in it. Clean it and keep ointment on it. Scabs that dry out take longer to heal off.
- Do not smash your face in a pillow while sleeping, especially the first couple of days. The skin is drilled full of holes and can tear or kink. The compressed tissue does not get adequate flow of blood and oxygen. The dependent side swells more, can ooze more, and have more color loss.
- Do not peel or pick at crust, this could cause pigment loss, scarring, and delayed healing.
- Do not expose to sun or tanning bed while outer healing progresses. Use of sunblock after healing is completed will help prevent premature fading.
- Do not swim in fresh, salt, or chlorinated water for 2 weeks.
- Avoid environments that would cause dirt or germs to contact area while healing.
- Do not apply topical cosmetics over area while healing.
- Ibuprofen or your favorite pain reliever may be used to reduce swelling and discomfort.
- Final healed result is at about 2 months. If a touchup is needed, it is not done any sooner than 2 months after the first procedure. Performing a touchup too early could cause scarring. Some colors (especially eyebrow colors) take that long or longer to see how they are going to settle in and look. Free touchup period is within 1 year. Brows may need additional fill-in strokes. Eyeliner should not need a touchup.
- Many anti-aging products and services containing acids, lighteners, and exfoliates cause premature fading of pigment. Avoid pigmented area. Stay about 1/4 inch away from permanent makeup.
- Do not use laser hair removal or foto-facial too close to pigmented area to avoid an accidental hit. Most laser operators know how protect a permanent makeup tattoo from the light by placing a tongue blade perpendicular/ 90° right angle against the edge of the brow or lip.
Specifics For EYELINER
- Do not wear contact lenses during the procedure or for 24 hours after.
- Have sunglasses available. Eyes may be light sensitive or even dilated immediately after. The sunglasses are also handy for hiding puffy eyes.
- Do not dye, perm, or use eyelash curler for 2 weeks.
- Do not use mascara until outer healing is complete (3-5 days). Most clients are returning to work in 2 days and are noncompliant about this, so at least begin with a new tube of mascara due to risk of bacterial presence in used tubes. Stay a little farther out on the lashes, not too close to the liner. Remove with vaseline or baby oil without rubbing it into the liner.
- Eyes will be swollen for a few days. Eyes may feel dry or irritated. Lubricating refresher drops may be used.
Specifics For EYEBROWS
- Do not dye, wax, tweeze, or use electrolysis for 2 weeks in the cosmetic tattoo area. You can tweeze outside / around the permanent makeup.
- It can take a little time for the eyebrow tattoo to soften up, and to see how the color is going to do. After the skin is healed over you can put brow powder on it to mask it while waiting. Many women buy eyeshadow to use as brow powder because there are more tones available. Just make sure it is matte and doesn’t have sparkles in it.
Specifics For LIPS
- Lips will ooze a couple of days. Blot and reapply ointment. After sleeping, crust will have dried on the lips. Rinse with water or put more ointment on to loosen crust, blot and reapply ointment. Most tissues like the ones you blow your nose with will leave lint on the lips. Use something stronger and lint-free like Bounty hand towels. A soaking wet cloth feels good to blot with.
- Lips will be tender at first. Drink through a straw. Choose foods you can place in your mouth with a fork without touching lips.
- Place an old towel on the pillow you will sleep on until the oozing stops so you won’t ruin good pillowcases or pillows.
- Do not excessively stretch lips while they are healing with big smiles, or pucker lips with smoking. Those motions push and pull against the lip edges, applying tension and friction between the strong normal skin surrounding the mouth and the broken inflamed lip edges. Lip skin is a continuation of the delicate mucous membrane in the mouth. It is not strong like normal skin.
- On the third day, lips stop oozing and start peeling. This is when the chapped lip feeling is strongest. You may relieve the chapped lip feeling by lightly massaging the lips after placing a thick layer of ointment on them and making gentle circular motions with one finger. The light, wet massage helps get loose skin off that is ready to come off without yanking out skin that is not ready to come off. The massage relieves the chapped feeling for several hours, then it returns, and you can massage again.
- Lips will peel for a week. Other than the massage mentioned above, allow it to flake off on its own. Picking and pulling off skin that is not ready to come off will cause pigment loss and can pull out deeper tissue. The edges or lip liner will be the last to fall off. Pulling this off will result in an uneven splotchy line or an indented scar (like messing with a pimple).
- Try to keep toothpaste off lips while healing.
- Do not have teeth bleached while healing.
- During the peeling process it may look like there is not much color there. Color is more apparent by the second week. Final result is not judged for 2 months.
- It is normal to have discomfort or a feeling of pressure the day of the lip procedure. The next day should be minimal. If you begin having pain on the 3rd or 4th day after being pain-free, it is a signal that something is wrong. It is usually one of three things: 1) Infection, 2) Cold sore, or 3) Allergic contact dermatitis from antibiotic ointment. Switch ointments to rule out that as the cause, and consider a culture to determine bacterial vs yeast infection. We take cultures at our office. We offer consultation and culture collection for anyone who has had permanent makeup procedures elsewhere and is having a healing problem. The lab will send a bill for their services if health insurance does not cover the expense.
- After the lips are healed over and all is well, they still feel more chapped than normal. The chapped feeling subsides over a period of weeks to months. Certain lip balms create the problem. Do not use anything made for cold sores or blisters (carmex, blistex) because although they initially feel moisturizing, they turn around and dry the lips out. Some do more damage than that, especially if applied on broken lip tissue during the healing process. Read This. And This. Applying vitamin E will usually help.
Permanent makeup will appear extremely intense and thick immediately after the procedure. The color will not even look right the first few days. Other factors are added to the permanent makeup pigment bottles to counteract the undertones of facial skin. Browns can look orangish-brown, blonde brows may look too yellow, lip colors are shocking! Some colors initially look too bright and others look too dark. But don’t worry – it changes. Excess pigment sheds off over the next 2-3 days, and then the skin starts healing over. A layer of healed skin on top of the pigment masks and tones it down considerably. As swelling goes down the lines will be thinner. On about the fourth day you are close to looking normal and no one notices anything. Colors will continue to soften over the next few weeks. It will look very natural in 2-3 months. You see another difference around the 7-9 month time period. It looks even softer and lighter. Brows and lips that looked fine at 2-3 months may have faint areas or be too light after 7-9 months. Because it can take up to a year to know if you need a touchup, I have extended the touchup timeframe to one year. I want your makeup to look great. That is how I get more business.
OUTER HEALING completes in about 3-6 days for eyes, 7-10 days for lips. INNER HEALING completes in 1-2 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Permanent cosmetic makeup is cosmetic tattooing. The specialized techniques used for permanent cosmetics are often referred to as “micropigmentation”, “micropigment implantation” or “dermagraphics”. The cosmetic implantation technique deposits colored pigment into the upper reticular layer of the dermis. See also “Is Permanent Makeup for Me?”
Permanent cosmetics procedures are performed using various devices, including the traditional tattoo coil machines, the pen or rotary machine (includes the digital rotary machines) and the non-machine or hand device. The process includes a consultation, the application of pigment, and at least one or more follow up visits for evaluating the healed design work and color of the pigment.
People who meet minimum age requirements and have the ability to heal properly from minor wounds can benefit from the liberating benefits of permanent cosmetics.Interest in this service spans the young to the more mature; those who desire a soft, natural enhancement to their appearance. 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 spend applying and refreshing makeup throughout the day and evening.
Permanent Cosmetic procedures can be very subtle or dramatic depending on what you are looking for. Options include:
- Eyeliner, Top and Bottom
- Lipliner, Lip Color, and Blend
- Scar Camouflage, Beauty Marks, Hair imitation, Lash Enhancement, and Areola Repigmentation
NOTE: Some of these procedures use more advanced techniques (para-medical techniques) and thus require an experienced technician with advanced training.
Permanent cosmetics procedures are considered permanent because pigment is tattooed into the upper reticular part of the dermal layer of the skin and cannot be washed off. However, as with any tattoo or colorant (pigment) in general, fading can and often does occur, requiring periodic maintenance referred to as color re-enhancement or color refreshing. The scientific structure of pigments and the requirement for periodic refreshing is identical to that of tinted hair color; faded material on furniture that may be located near a window and subject to sun exposure; house paint that is exposed to the sun and other environmental elements; pigment implanted in the skin may fade with time.This colorant periodic maintenance requirement is a good opportunity to reevaluate one’s color and design preferences. While the concept of permanent, without any change, may seem like a perfectly good idea, think about how your tastes have changed over the years. From time to time likely you have made subtle or dramatic changes in your clothing preferences, your hair color and style, and if you wear topical makeup, those colors have changed as well.The fact that most people will require periodic color refreshing of their permanent cosmetics is the opportune time to work with your technician to reevaluate your overall appearance profile and determine if any changes are appropriate.Longevity varies from person to person depending on their life style (sun exposure), the color(s) used for the permanent cosmetic procedure, and are also thought to be affected by topical products applied to the skin.
See also “Is Permanent Makeup Really Permanent?”
The initial procedure will generally take approximately 2 to 2 ½ hours; there are records to establish; photographs to take; desired design and color to discuss; the procedure to perform; and the aftercare requirements to discuss.Follow up or color refresher procedures usually do not require the same amount of time.
Most people experience some discomfort. This will vary according to each individual’s pain threshold.There are different methods available, however, to help with discomfort management, including various topical anesthetics that are specifically developed for our industry. Your permanent cosmetic professional should discuss these methods with you to determine which one is appropriate.To put this in 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.
See also “Does Permanent Makeup Hurt?“
If proper sterilization and disinfection guidelines are met, permanent cosmetics should be completely safe. Professionals in the permanent cosmetic industry routinely attend Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) classes to become well versed on safety principals. These guidelines include, but are not limited to the following:
IMPORTANT Things To Look For:
- All Needles should be new and sterile for each client. Unopened new and 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 when 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 has taken a position against permanent cosmetic procedures conducted at trade shows and in salons where nail dust, aerosols or other chemicals are present.
See also “Permanent Makeup Tattooing and The Truth” and “What Should I Expect?“
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 philosophy applies to lip color procedures. A lip liner or blended lip liner will show less effects of the procedure than that of a full lip color. 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. What is seen more often is that eyebrows rarely if ever produce any bruising; 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 the client is more mature. If bruising does occur, typically it is minor and subsides in a few days.There is usually some tenderness for a few days. The color 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 be filled out to assess different factors that may contribute to your experience after the tattooing procedure has been completed.
Often the tattooed color 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.
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.