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Tattooed Makeup: What are the Risks?

By HERWriter
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Cosmetics related image Photo: Getty Images

We all wish we could just wake up in the morning already looking made up for the day. Some women take that wish one step further and seek out the services of a permanent makeup tattoo professional to place eyeliner, eyebrow filler or lip color on their face. Certainly it will save time and make us feel more beautiful when we glance in the mirror but how risky is it to have cosmetic tattooing performed?

Cosmetic tattooing, also known as micropigmentation, began in the 1980s to assist those with alopecia. “Dr. Crowell Beard, an occuloplastic surgeon, first recorded performing an eyeliner procedure by tattooing as a replacement for lost eyelashes” according to www.lastingmakeup.com. Cosmetic tattooing has since expanded its use to others who may benefit such as cancer patients who have lost their hair or those who have difficulty putting on makeup due to arthritis or Parkinson’s disease. It can even be used to cover a port wine stain using flesh-tinted dye.

Cosmetic tattooing is also referred to as permanent makeup but it is important to note that cosmetic tattooing is not actually permanent and will need continued touch ups to keep the colors appearing fresh.

What are the risks?

The most serious risks are related to when practitioners are not sufficiently trained in performing micropigmentation, when equipment that is used that is not sterile and from allergic reactions to the dye.

Each state individually regulates the training requirements practitioners need to be certified but there are voluntary organizations that provide continued training and require members have a certain number of practice hours. The United States Food and Drug Administration does monitor the inks and dyes that go into tattoo inks but allergic reactions can still occur and can be serious since the dye is located near the eyes and mouth.

Infections from non-sterile equipment can include HIV, hepatitis, and staph and strep infections from dirty needles, according to a February 23, 2011 article in the New York Times.

Add a Comment1 Comments

I have semi-permanent eye liner, the product is "Soft Tap." I found someone who had been applying the semi permanent eye liner for 20 years. I love it. It will fade with time, so you can choose to get a touch up or let it fade.
I am an RN and had a long conversation with the aesthetician about sterile technique and was very comfortable with her technique.

March 17, 2011 - 7:50pm
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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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