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The Pros and Cons of Permanent Makeup

Maybe you have unsteady hands or poor eyesight that make it difficult for you to apply eyeliner, lipstick or other cosmetics. Perhaps you have medical reasons to add pigmentation to certain areas of your body. Or perhaps you lead a busy life with little time to do your makeup, or can’t find makeup that lasts long enough on your skin.

If any of these are true, you may have considered looking into permanent makeup as a solution. But you probably wonder exactly how it works, or if permanent makeup is even safe. Many also question if permanent eyeliner, for example, can be removed once it’s applied.

When considering whether or not this type of procedure is worth it, it’s usually the word “permanent” that creates pause. Interestingly this can be the best (or potentially the worst) aspect of the procedure depending on certain factors.

How does permanent makeup work?

Permanent makeup, also called a cosmetic tattoo or micropigmentation, is done with the use of a pen containing iron oxide that tattoos the skin and to create the look of makeup.

A tattoo can mimic eyeliner or lipstick, or it can darken and create the look of thicker eyebrows. It can also camouflage scars and help with the look of an uneven hairline.

Who might want permanent makeup?

“Certainly people with physical limitations or medical conditions may seek out this procedure, but anyone can have it done,” Dr. Khetarpal says.

In particular people with cataracts, arthritis, multiple sclerosisParkinson’s disease or those who have suffered from a stroke may find this procedure appealing. It can help them look their best while avoiding the physical challenges of applying makeup.

It can offer an option to those who have allergies to traditional makeup. It also offers a cosmetic solution for patients experiencing certain medical conditions to restore the skin to pigmentation, like after breast surgery or hair loss due to some illnesses.

What younger people should consider with all tattoos

While the promise of permanent makeup can be appealing, you should think carefully about this decision, especially if you’re a younger person. Remember that areas on the face (such as the eyes, eyebrows and lips) change over time with age.

“Beauty trends also change with time. Full lips and thick eyebrows are flooding social media these days, but this may not be the case five or 10 years from now,” Dr. Khetarpal says. “Always start with a minimalistic approach to look natural — because less is more.”

It’s also very difficult to mimic the appearance of eyebrow hair with tattoo ink, she adds.