Do you need ‘permanent’ make up?

A guide on a new form of cosmetic tattooing that claims to be convenient

Dhara Vora Sabhnani
First Published9 Jul 2024, 04:04 PM IST
Choose the right expert who follows hygiene standards, has worked on multiple faces and uses safe pigments, say experts.
Choose the right expert who follows hygiene standards, has worked on multiple faces and uses safe pigments, say experts.

A lip oil for just-kissed lips, a cheek tint for a natural flush, delicately filled-in brows and tight lining eyes—barely there make up can also take time when you are in a rush to reach office or an event. 

Aiming to offer a time-saving, long-term fix is “permanent” make up, with emphasis on long-term.

“A form of cosmetic tattooing, permanent make up is meant to correct and enhance certain areas, just like cosmetic make up. The name is a bit misleading, since these procedures can last anywhere from six months to three years," says Ashmi Singhai, Mumbai-based permanent make-up expert and founder of The Browmaster Studio. "Many aspects make it different from traditional tattoos, be it the depth of the needle, the pigments used and the techniques, all need to be in sync to give natural results.” 

Singhai, who has studios in Mumbai, Dubai and Chennai, says the trend started with brow enhancements two-three years ago and moved into the semi-permanent lip tint, eyeliner and cheek category eventually. Scalp micro-pigmentation has also caught on for those who like a dense hairline.

Also read: Is it okay to wear shorts to the office?

“The process deposits pigment into the skin’s second layer, the dermis, similar to how tattoos are done but with pigments chosen to match or enhance your natural colour. So not just eyes or lips, it can even camouflage scars or vitiligo. Unlike cosmetics, it doesn’t smudge or fade," says Dr Sravya Tipirneni, consultant dermatologist, cosmetologist and trichologist at Manipal Hospitals in Bengaluru.

Reason for their popularity? "It can help improve self-esteem, especially for those with an active lifestyle or medical conditions that make applying make-up difficult,” says Dr Tipirneni.

Is it painful?

The process is less painful than traditional tattooing (though not completely painless), since the needle depth in the skin for permanent make up is lesser for that natural look, says Singhai. 

The pigments eventually fade and you will need to do it again, but experts use a numbing cream before and through the procedure. Brows typically last from one to three years. Eyeliners, blush and freckles, and lips can last from two to four years. 

It varies for different people as it lasts more on normal healthy skin as compared to oily, thick and porous skin, say experts. Also sweating, sun exposure, in-clinic facials and peels, and using exfoliants reduce the life of permanent make up.

According to Singhai, brows start to thin and lips tend to shrink or lose colour between the ages of 45 and 35, making permanent make up an option for the age group. 

But the awareness is highest among the younger generation of women between 25 and 35, says the expert. “The demand for lip neutralisation or dark lip correction is as high as brow treatments as many women in India have pigmented uneven lips and are tired of applying lipsticks to cover them,” says Singhai. 

She predicts that brow and lip perfection sessions will become a mainstream trend in the industry, as the biggest female stars of the film industry are sporting micro-bladed brows, making it acceptable for the rest of the country. Singhai, who has trained over 200 artists, has taught bankers and professors too, who have quit their jobs to pursue permanent make up.

Watch out

“It’s crucial that you choose the right expert who follows hygiene standards, has worked on multiple faces and uses safe pigments. Especially because of the longevity, changes are difficult and expensive to reverse. Because it fades over time, you need to spend on touch-up sessions as well. And as with any tattoo, there’s a risk of infection, allergic reaction, or scarring,” says Dr Tipirneni.

The experience can be painful when the artist doesn’t know how to use sharp equipment, says Singhai, who's had clients come with lips with uneven colour patches and asymmetrical brows. "One might even need laser removal in some cases. Choose an artist who has been in the field for two or more years, having a chance to work on multiple face shapes and skin tones,” says Singhai. Eyeliners and kajal placements are tricky too, as the area is delicate, and the technique needs thin almost invisible lines drawn between lashes (unless you wish for a smoky or thick eyeliner look).

What's more, how the skin absorbs the pigment influences the final results, so the result isn’t precise like cosmetics but more natural. “Tattoo make up is designed for improvement rather than perfection,” says Singhai.

Also read: Mira Kapoor wants to simplify your skincare routine

Dhara Vora Sabhnani is a Mumbai-based journalist.

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First Published:9 Jul 2024, 04:04 PM IST
HomeLoungestyleDo you need ‘permanent’ make up?

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