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Permanent Makeup: The Pros and Cons

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I ran into a woman I know at the gym recently and told her she looked great. She mentioned she had gotten permanent makeup not long ago and recommended I consider it for myself.

I’ve thought it over since then. I can’t seem to get past the fact that, even when it’s referred to in a genteel voice as “micropigmentation,” it’s still tattooing and it’s still on your face. Yes, it sure would be nice to be able to skip part of my morning routine. But the thought of tattooing my skin, especially near the eyes, gives me the heebie jeebies.

I finally decided to investigate using my favorite no-holds-barred, real women, honest stories Web site: RealSelf.com. Here’s what I learned.

Pros of Permanent Make Up

On RealSelf, I found women who had had permanent makeup applied to their eyebrows, eyelash line and lips.

I discovered that many women who don’t have much in the way of eyebrows find permanent makeup to be a relief. There’s no need to draw them on with pencil any longer and worry about how you look in the morning when you first wake up with a new sweetheart.

Older women also seem to find permanent makeup a good option, whether they don’t see well enough close up to apply makeup easily or they just don’t want to wield the implements any longer. Women who are physically active are also fans of micropigmentation for obvious reasons. Swimmers, runners and those who enjoy camping are among the women who choose permanent makeup.

Cons of Permanent Make Up

The most obvious argument against permanent makeup is contained in its name: it’s permanent. Well, almost permanent. A few women who have not liked their new eyebrows have sought laser tattoo removal to banish the ink. Generally this process works, but one woman noted that it costs more than the permanent makeup and takes multiple sessions to complete.

Another thing about that name—permanent makeup actually does fade in time. I discovered a few stories by women who had a good first experience, but in going back for a touch up years later had unpleasant results. The fact that you’ll probably need more tattoo sessions down the road is something to keep in mind.

Add a Comment6 Comments

It's not for me. I don't wear a lot of make-up to begin with-- I'm a lipgloss, maybe eyeliner and mascara kind of girl. On VERY special occasions I may apply eye shadow but I don't remember the last time I wore full make-up.

Colors of the season change so do they tattoo the eyeshadow too? I know lips are usually permanently done so whatever color you choose that's what you have forever. I'm just not comfortable to do anything permanent.

I think it's great that you will always look pretty in the mornings but something about looking like you're wearing make-up at the gym, in the pool, or any other place where make-up should be subtle or not there sends out the wrong message no matter how hard people try not to judge.

I enjoy the natural look very much and I think my husband would have a fit LOL.

November 24, 2009 - 6:31am

Hi Diane:

You brought something up I also hadn't thought of--thank you!

My immediate reaction to looking like you're wearing makeup after a swim or an all-nighter would be--good! But you make an excellent point. When a "regular" person looks un-made up, whether they're soaking wet or just worn out, and you look all tidy and ready to go, you are the one who doesn't look natural.

I'm not sure I would like that. It would make the fact that you had tattooed your face pretty obvious. And I think most people who set out to improve their looks want a natural appearance. At least I do. Better than natural, but still normal looking, if you know what I mean.

November 23, 2009 - 10:54am

I was on a tour one time with my mom and maybe 20 other people. It was a weeklong tour, so we all got to know each other fairly well. There was a woman there who had permanent makeup, and it was done very well. She had permanent eyeliner, lip color and even cheek color.

Over the course of the week, though, I realized that there were times when it just didn't look "natural." When we were all swimming, for instance, her lips looked too pink. When we were all up at 6 a.m. after a late night and everyone was rumpled and sleepy and dressed hurridly with hair in ponytails for an early bus, her face looked china-doll perfect. And I realized what she'd lost: She'd lost the ability to EVER look "natural."

Cosmetically, she looked perfect. But she'd never see her "natural" face again. That seems like a loss to me. In some ways, the permanent makeup said, "I don't ever want you to see me as I really am."

It made her happy, so who am I to judge? But I guess that's when I realized it wouldn't be for me.

Now, those longer lashes, though, when they find a way to make THAT treatment permanent, let me know.....

November 23, 2009 - 8:50am
HERWriter Guide

Cathy, thanks for the compliment, you may be my new best friend and you are also a very attractive woman!
Ironically, the only makeup in that pic is mascara, other than that I'm bare. However, when my braces come out in 10 days, I may have to put a big cheesy grinning pic of me up there with red lipstick to show off my perfect gnashers! Cannot wait!

November 20, 2009 - 3:09pm

Hi Susan:

Thanks for your comment. Unlike you, I don't really enjoy applying makeup. I'm a busy person and impatient to boot, so it's not something I like spending my time on. You are such an attractive woman...if I were as pretty as you are I might enjoy it more!

I'm glad you brought up your enjoyment of the ritual. That's a reason not to get permanent makeup I hadn't thought of.

Even for me, though, the risk of not liking the result is just too great. The comments on RealSelf ran about 60% for and 40% against...those are just not good odds in my book. So, I apply makeup when I need to and go without when I'm at home. My husband doesn't seem to mind, or maybe he just doesn't notice!

Good to hear from you.

November 20, 2009 - 2:56pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi Cathy

My conclusion is that it's not for me. I actually enjoy the "ritual" of fixing myself up - it's fun artistry and I have it down to about 15 mins a day, including styling my hair so it's not bad at all.

I really dislike painted or drawn in eyebrows, especially that thin penciled look. But if I had no eyebrows, I'd definitely want to sort it out. It's hard to know the best way.

And as you said, if things go wrong - it's hard to fix. I'll spend that 15 minutes doing my hair and makeup everyday, rather than take the risk :)

November 20, 2009 - 1:02pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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