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The Ultimate Guide to Permanent Makeup

Permanent Makeup - Allure - Getty Images

By: Leah Prinzivalli, Allure

You’ve just rolled out of bed. Your blowout is intact. You grab a bottle of Soylent, throw on yesterday’s jeans, and get out of the house in under three minutes. Either you’re living in 2069 and have purchased a Jaclyn Hill x Google in-home makeup artist…or you have a face full of semipermanent cosmetic tattoos.

Chances are, you’ve already heard of microblading. Thanks to an exponentially exploding interest in brows over the past few years, the eyebrow-tattooing technique has gone practically mainstream. But brows are just the beginning. Cosmetic makeup artists are also inking on freckles, lip colors, and more — making it possible to wake up with a face full of makeup even here in 2019. But as cosmetic ink gets more common, it’s important to remember that the key term in semipermanent makeup is “permanent.”

“Clients come in and say, ‘I’d never get a body tattoo,’ and in my mind, I’m like, ‘You know you’re tattooing your face right now,'” laughs Kendra Bray, owner of New York City salon Better Brows & Beauty. Here’s exactly what you need to know about microblading, lip blushing, blush tattoos, eyeliner tattoos, freckle tattoos, and scar camouflage before the moment that needle hits your face.

1. Microblading

How does it all work?

Microblading, the most popular form of permanent makeup, is a fancy name for an eyebrow tattoo. Instead of the shockingly dark brows you may have seen on members of the Silent Generation, the modern technique simulates individual hair strokes for a natural look. Cosmetic tattoo artists use a super fine pen to deposit pigment directly under the skin. You may also hear names like brow feathering or microshading. “People will claim different techniques for marketing purposes,” says Bray. Other techniques still fall under the umbrella of natural-looking hair strokes, and the important part is to study examples of your artist’s work and make sure you’re a fan before booking an appointment.

Who does it work for?

If filling in your brows is a crucial part of your beauty routine, you might want to look into microblading. To its credit, the procedure is dermatologist-approved. “I think it is an ideal treatment for restoration of the eyebrows,” says board-certified L.A.-based dermatologist Ava Shamban. She’s such a fan of the procedure that she even does microblading procedures in her own clinics. There’s one major pro to getting your work done at a dermatologist’s office: “We can be prepared for the unforeseen complications and act or react accordingly,” says Shamban.