Permanent makeup, as we know it, has been around for about three decades. Now a mainstream service, both women and men are paying to have their eyes and lips permanently lined, their lips and eyelids permanently colored and eyebrows tattooed in. The reasons are varied – some have lost their facial hair to alopecia and want eyebrows permanently placed so that they no longer have to worry about drawing them in every day. Some are too infirm to apply their own make-up. Others do it simply for beauty – to wake up feeling ready for the day and heading out the door with already painted lips and eyes. For many, it’s a dream come true. But for others, these procedures can lead to infections, pain and permanent scarring or disfigurements.
What most qualified permanent make-up artists complain about is the lack of regulation in the business and the fact that anyone can do this, from fancy offices or basement studios with products (machinery and ink) purchased over the internet where ingredients aren’t necessarily monitored. When unqualified make-up artists apply these inks, along with machines purchased online, their clients risk very serious infections like HIV, hepatitis or staph, with generally no recourse other than to see a qualified medical doctor for treatment and on to a qualified cosmetic surgeon to correct damage done by make-up artists with little or no experience or expertise. The cost of this can be enormous. Allergies are also a great risk. Some artists double dip into ink used for a variety of clients or re-use needles, drastically increasing the risk of infections.
Dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons are now looking for mandatory minimum hours of training (much like aestheticians who require up to 2,000 hours of training, as opposed to no required hours for permanent make-up artists) and certification. Stories of burned eyes and mouths, blisters that can take up to a year to heal and serious and sometimes deadly infections and allergies are being reported more frequently because the services are used more frequently, with some clients ending up in hospitals.
Bottom line: like any cosmetic procedures, we often get what we pay for.