Perfectly lined lips. No-crease eyeshadow. Blossom pink cheekbones. Permanent makeup tattoos are all the rage and provide an on-point look 24/7. Whether you sweat it out in cycle class or just rolled out of bed, those who’ve had the procedure can say goodbye to smudged eyeliner for good. So, what does cosmetic tattooing entail, and how does it work?

Tattoos are pigments or dyes applied under the skin. Permanent makeup utilizes the practice of permanent coloring to enhance facial features, such as lash lines, eyebrows, lips and cheeks. Doctors, nurses and specially trained technicians use a local anesthetic to minimize patient discomfort during the application.

Enhancing eyebrows or adding eyeliner involve less complications than permanent color being applied to the entire eyelid or cheekbones. In a WebMD article, Dr. Charles S. Zwerling, an ophthalmologist who brainstormed the term for cosmetic tattoos as micropigmentation, details why he isn’t a huge fan of permanent blush or eyeshadow. “What I’ve seen has been very poorly done. You can’t be sure what the color is going to do, and if you get an allergic reaction, you’re dealing with a large surface area. You’re talking about major reconstructive face surgery.” The American Academy of Micropigmentation chair also notes that patients must be diligent about seeking only qualified professionals to perform the procedure and may require touch ups now and again.


There are other risks associated with tattooed makeup. The face is filled with delicate nerves and tissue, especially in the areas around the lips and eyes. Numbing solutions used near the eye have been reported to cause cornea damage. Some women suffered from blisters after having permanent lipstick applied. One accidental move could cause serious damage. As with all procedures, being under the watchful eye of a licensed medical professional is of utmost importance.

Sometimes results are not as anticipated, and micropigmentation clients can be unhappy with their new look. When dissatisfied, many turn to a second set of hands to correct permanent makeup application mistakes. It’s important to consult and meet several professionals, see their client’s before and after images and ask for references. Permanent makeup is just that—permanent. Choose your doctor or technician wisely. They should be patient, competent, able to answer all questions and make you feel comfortable.


While risky, cosmetic tattoos can save you time and money. Say goodbye to hours in front of the mirror and hello to extra minutes in your morning. Plus, that’s money in your wallet not spent at the makeup counter.


Micropigmentation should leave clients with subtle and understated results; like wearing daily makeup that leaves your skin with a naturally enhanced look. If you’re worried the results may leave you looking like a clown school applicant, talk with your technician or doctor.

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