The Art of Permanent Makeup

Permanent cosmetic makeup is cosmetic tattooing.  The specialized technique deposits colored pigment in the upper layer of the skin, just like a regular tattoo.  In the hands of a trained permanent makeup professional, it is a safe and quick procedure that can provide a soft, natural enhancement to one’s appearance, eliminating the hassle of regularly applying makeup.

People seeking permanent makeup have various reasons for their interest in such a procedure.  Many are active and on the go, and appreciate simplifying their daily routine.  Athletes like the fact that permanent makeup does not smudge with sweating.  Some folks with health conditions, such as poor vision, arthritis, or neurologic disease have difficulty applying makeup.

One of the main areas for permanent makeup is the eyebrow, which disappears or fades especially with aging or health conditions such as low thyroid.  The base of the eyelashes where eyeliner is applied is also a common area to treat.

I asked our esthetician and cosmetic tattoo artist, Hope Ready, what are the main concerns of patients inquiring about permanent makeup?  She says “will it hurt and how long does it last” are the top two questions she gets.  Hope is Western Colorado’s premier make up artist and permanent makeup has been a natural step for her.

According to Hope, it is variable in how much discomfort people experience, seemingly related to patient’s general pain tolerance.  “It is a tattoo after all”, she says, and “for some people they have little to no discomfort while for others feel it is a bit more sensitive.  We use topical anesthetic between each pass which really helps”.  Hope is reassuring about the procedure explaining that, “education and preparation really help take the fear factor out of the procedure, and most people do extremely well”.

As for the “permanent” aspect of cosmetic tattooing, there is a bit of wiggle room here.  Like traditional tattoos, colors will fade and require periodic maintenance referred to as a “touch up” for color refreshing.  Hope says, “This is actually a good thing as it is an opportunity to reevaluate one’s color and design preferences”.  How long the color lasts will depend on their skin type, sun exposure, topical skin products used and the color used.

Microblading is the most requested and modern of all techniques and is truly art form says Hope.  Each realistic hair stroke is placed strategically in the skin to emulate the hair that no longer exists or for a fuller more natural brow. No more grey eyebrows of the old days!  Microblading is done completely by hand with a tiny blade placing pigment in the skin which yields a realistic and beautiful looking brow.

Permanent makeup treatments usually take 2 to 3 hours depending on the area being treated, while touch up treatments go much quicker.  Side effects are minimal and are rare.  Swelling and is more common on the lips and eyelid where eyelash enhancement or eyeliner is applied.  Slight bleeding may occur during the procedure but again it is minor and more likely in people taking aspirin or prescription blood thinners.  There is usually minor tenderness for a day or two after the procedure. Hope gives you post care product to care for the treatment area with detailed instructions to ensure good healing and color retention.

The color of a cosmetic tattoo is typically darker than anticipated the first week or so and normally fades.  Hope says “this is why professional cosmetic technicians really spend a lot of time with the patient before the procedure to evaluate particular health issues and anticipate just what the patient envisions.  Experience with a wide variety of colors and skin types help the technician get the color and appearance just right.”

The cost of permanent makeup varies quite a bit of course, depending on the area or areas treated.  Typical prices are in the $300 to $600 range.  Like many things, the cost of the procedure should not be one’s first priority.  Most important is the training, skill, and experience of the person performing the procedure.

Mom Got a Tattoo

So my mother waited until she was almost 70 to go out and get a tattoo, a cosmetic tattoo that is, a thin, exact, attractive strip of eyeliner.  She is quite active, playing golf, running, and hiking, and says she “just didn’t want to mess with makeup” that smears when you sweat and has to be applied and reapplied.  Mom is very practical, and quite comfortable in grungy camping clothes, but as she said, “when you can look more stylin’ this easy, why not?”

I asked Mom if she was pleased with her decision to get permanent makeup, and she replied, “It is a great idea and I often have women ask me about the process.  It’s a very good idea for women who don’t want a heavy or ‘made up’ look and want to look more natural.  I especially like it because I’m involved in a lot of outdoor activities like golf, camping, and jogging, and I don’t want to mess with make up, but like the look that the permanent provides.  Yes, I’m an advocate.”

Permanent makeup is not something to rush into, as it is not easily removed.  Make good decisions up front by working closely with your technician. Hope imparts these final words, “Cosmetic tattooing isn’t something you should blink an eye at, but once you are comfortable with the idea it’s a tattoo you will never regret!”

Before and After photos

Microblading and Lash Line Enhancement Eyeliner – Photo courtesy of Hope Ready

Eyeliner Top & Bottom – Photo courtesy of Hope Ready

Microblading – Photo courtesy of Hope Ready

Showing up-close of Microbladed Brow – Photo courtesy of Hope Ready

Microblading – Photo courtesy of Hope Ready


Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the American Board of Family Practice and the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine.  He specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement for men and women, thyroid and adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia and other complex medical conditions.  He is founder and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado ( and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (   Call (970) 245-6911 for an appointment or more information.

Hope Ready is a licensed esthetician, certified laser specialist and cosmetic tattoo artist.  She is available for free consultations.

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