FAQ

Why micropigmentation?

• Convenience and active lifestyle • You don’t like the way conventional makeup smears & disappears • Correcting natural shape of brows and lips • Enhancing beauty • Sensitive skin or allergies • Arthritis or painful hands • Difficulty applying makeup • Aging changes in brows, lips and eyes


What is permanent makeup?
Permanent makeup is a cosmetic tattooing procedure. It is also called "permanent cosmetics," "cosmetic tattoo", and "micropigmentation." They all mean the same thing. As with any tattoo, inert colored particles are implanted in the dermis, or true skin, beneath the surface of your skin, called the epidermis. This procedure is called "semi-permanent" in Europe and Australia because they want you to remember that all tattoos fade progressively from UV exposure, body chemistry, and macrophage activity. But we call it "permanent" in America because we want clients to know that unwanted work may not be completely removable if they don't like it without risk of scarring, if then. Because it will affect how you feel about yourself as well as how you look, you should take great care to select the right person to apply your permanent makeup.


What does it cost?
Pricing varies by procedure - typical hourly rate is between $200 - $400 -- a deposit for all procedures is standard industry practice & required at time of scheduling. Most permanent make-up price includes ONE touch-up appointment.



What can you do with permanent makeup?
Permanent cosmetics are mostly used to simulate conventional makeup for lips, eyes, brows and cheeks (although I personally do not recommend cheek blush procedures). It can also restore lost skin color in flat, mature, hypopigmented (white) scars to make them blend better with the surrounding tissue, often imperceptibly. Damaged features, such as cleft lips and areolas after breast surgery, can have their appearance improved with color so that they look normal again. Lost brows, eye lashes, and even hair in the scalp can be simulated effectively with hairlike strokes of color.


 What can't you do with permanent makeup?
Permanent makeup should not be used to try to cover dark, red or brown scars, undereye circles, hemangiomas, or brown spots on the surface of the skin. It is not a cover up in the same sense that camouflage makeup would be. It almost never stays in vitiligo skin, and any attempt to recolor vitiligo skin with permanent makeup is considered experimental at the client's sole risk. It should not be used to color a mole black like a beauty mark, because it will interfere with the ability of a physician to diagnose any cancerous change in the tissue. 


Who should get permanent makeup?

 Clients with difficulty applying their makeup due to poor vision or physical disability, sensitivity to perfumes and preservatives in conventional cosmetics, clients with active lifestyles, men or women with sparse lashes, missing brow hairs, thin or pale lips, asymmetrical features, burn survivors, cancer patients, women who just want to save makeup application time and wake up looking beautiful...in short, permanent makeup is for just about everybody!


Why not just go to a tattoo parlor?
Regular tattoo parlors normally have employees who are fine artists, and certainly they know how to put color in the skin. But there are certain differences which are extremely important. The colors employed in regular tattoo are normally unmixed, pure, vibrant hues which do not resemble skin or hair color. The colors used in permanent makeup and sold to our industry are specially blended for our needs. A good permanent makeup artist must know a cool blonde brow from a warm blonde brow, and how to create the difference. A regular tattoo artist without permanent makeup training may have no idea how to do this. Permanent makeup application requires all the knowledge of historical makeup styles and current fashion trends which a regular makeup artist would know, to create the look that's right for you in the long term. A regular tattoo artist may know how to transfer a design of a ship or a heart, but may have no clue how to shape an eyebrow or lipline. Good permanent makeup should be designed to blend with your features, enhance their shape, correct asymmetries, and be unobtrusive when it's finished. Regular tattoo artists normally apply an independent design to a flat area of skin with no relation to the features (lips, eyes, or brows). So the way of thinking is completely different in the two areas of practice. As an example, I had one potential client call me hysterically begging for correction, because she went to a tattoo shop to camouflage scars around her areolae from breast implants. In permanent makeup, camouflage would mean recoloring the scar with a color matching the areola so it is unnoticeable. In the world of regular tattoo, a camouflage is normally a "cover up," where the artist applies something more obtrusive to disguise the tattoo underneath. So this conventional tattoo artist drew black circles around her areolae! Sure enough, you didn't see those scars anymore...but the client was devastated. In this case, the tattoo artist obviously wasn't very bright, all other considerations aside.


Do I need a consultation in advance?

No. I'm happy to talk with you on the phone or chat via email. If you want to send me pictures of yourself, I'm happy to talk to you in advance about what I recommend for you at no charge. If you really feel you need a consultation in advance, I will do that at no charge as well. However, normally, clients book the procedure time and I do the consultation at the t I've tried to put enough information on this website that you can get all your questions answered in advance, and we won't have to spend unnecessary time in a separate consultation session.


What do I need to know before I come?
Anyone in normal good health can walk in the door and have this done immediately. However, you have any diseases which affect your healing, e.g, diabetes, you may not retain color well and should check with your doctor whether he will allow you to have the work done, depending on how advanced your conditions. If you have scleraderma, which makes your skin tight and brittle, you are not a good candidate. If you have allergies to lidocaine or epinephrine, I won't be able to use my anesthetics on you. If you have allergies to latex, you must let me know, because I might use either latex or nitrile gloves. If you're planning to have work done, avoid ingesting things which make you bleed and bruise, e.g., ibuprofen, alcohol, vitamin E supplements, and caffeine -- which can also make some people more sensitive. Aspirin should be avoided, if possible, for as long as ten days before hand. If you are on blood thinners, ask your doctor about stopping the meds for a couple days so you won't have excessive bleeding. If you're doing your lips, and you have EVER in your life had a real cold sore -- the herpes II virus which never leaves your nerves in that area -- you need to obtain a prescription for antiviral medications (Zovirax, Acyclovir) and take them as directed 48-72 hours before AND after the procedure, to minimized the risk of an outbreak, which otherwise would be severe. You will retain more color if your skin is well exfoliated. Microdermabasion a day or two before the procedure will aid in color retention.


What should I expect at my first appointment?
At your first visit, you'll fill out office paperwork. You can wear your own makeup to show me what you think you'd like (but please, avoid waterproof mascara and staining lipcolors). Then, I'll use conventional cosmetics to adjust what you've done as necessary, and simulate the result I intend to achieve. Only when we've agreed about shape, color and placement, and we both understand what that means, do I apply permanent color. After I remove your makeup, I apply topical anesthetic to the area we will tattoo. It will take 15-20 minutes for the surface of the skin to numb up. You'll still have a little sensation as I work, but mostly a scratching or tickling that isn't bad at all. Also, I will reinforce the anesthetic as I work to keep you comfortable. After I remove the initial anesthetic, I may redraw the color topically with tattoo pigment, if there's any question about shape and placement, and work through that design to be sure I'm doing what you want. Allow an hour for each procedure initially. When we're done, you'll be given aftercare instructions and sent home to heal.


When and why do I need a second appointment?
Your skin is divided into two kinds of layers. The top layers are called "epidermis." It is connected on the underside to the "dermis," or "true skin." The dermis doesn't change, and color is implanted in the upper layers of the dermis to be permanent. The epidermis changes roughly every 28 days. New epidermal skin cells generated at the base of the epidermis are round, fat, and full of fluid. As they rise up to the surface of the skin, they flatten out, dry up, and die. So each day you exfoliate your skin, you are removing that day's layer of dead skin cells. In order to put color in the dermis, the tattooing needles must pass through the epidermis, where they also deposit color. When you first look at any tattoo, including permanent makeup, you are looking at color in the dermis THROUGH the color on top of it in the epidermis, which won't be there in a month. After that time, only 60%-70% of the color may remain, and new, translucent epidermis will have healed on top of it. That will make the color look softer and lighter. If color didn't "take" evenly or perfectly in the dermis, there may be voids or missing spots which need to be filled as well. Many technicians try to compensate for that initial color loss by using too much color, too solid a color, or too dark a color initially. That makes you run the risk of a final result that is flat, hard and unnatural looking. Even then, there's no guarantee you won't need a touch up visit. But you will leave those technicians looking and feeling like you have Groucho Marx brows or Lucy Lips, praying that the color will lighten up enough ...which sometimes it will, and sometimes it won't. I prefer to make my clients look beautiful when they leave. So I'll apply only enough of the right colors so that you look almost the way you will want to look healed when you leave me. But if you look "perfect" when you leave the first time, you'll only be 60% of perfect when you heal. After 4-5 days, the damaged surface epidermis will exfoliated, taking color off sometimes in chips or chunks as well (less, if you follow aftercare instructions), and the color will lighten radically. It will "come back" in a day or so when the exposed skin dries out. But you may need to use some pencil or powder to reinforce the color until you come back for a touch up visit. The second visit, or touch up visit is planned for a month after the initial visit (occasionally a week or so one way or the other, as needed). When you come back, we repeat the whole tattooing process, and the skin goes through the same healing cycle. But the color in the dermis builds up cumulatively. So if you had a 70% result the first time you heal, you can expect a 95% result the second time. That's what most clients want and need. My fee includes two visits, as needed, within two months, to complete the initial application of the procedure.


Would I ever need a third visit to complete a procedure?
Clients do vary in certain things which are outside my control, e.g., skin thickness, body chemistry, sun damage, smoking damage, other factors affecting their healing, and aftercare compliance.

About 5% of the time, eyeliner, eyebrow enhancement, and lip liner clients may want a third visit to complete the procedure. That is at an additional, reduced charge. Alopecia clients may also want a third visit to add dimension to their color, as they have no hair of their own to blend with it. Full lipcolor clients almost always need a third visit, and you should plan for that. 

Ironically, the more subtle a result you want, the more visits you may need, because I will have to apply color in smaller baby steps so as not to overshoot the mark. I can always add more. But it's very hard to take it away.


What will I look like afterwards?
Initially, the color will be a little stronger and look more like topical makeup. As the color oxidizes in the skin, it may darker somewhat. Expect to look like you are wearing makeup, regardless, but it won't be unattractive. The fairer you are, the more likely you are to have purplish discoloration around the eyelining. But in many cases, it just looks like additional eyeshadow! Lips and brows tend to look perfectly normal when you leave me. In the old days, before epinephrine enhanced anesthetics, better equipment, and cold light therapy, people left looking much more swollen and battered. If you go to someone who hasn't kept up and invested in the best technology, however, you may have the same problems.


What shoud I do for aftercare?
For 4-5 days, while the surface skin is healing, you must avoid any rubbing, scrubbing, tanning, chemical irritation or exfoliation of your skin. Wash around the area, and keep soaps off it. Use only a pH neutral cleanser, like Cetaphil for Sensitive Skin. No swimming during that time. Avoid dirty work environments. Don't work out for a day or two. Stay out of tanning beds and don't get sunburned. If you work outside, golf, or go to the beach, wear a hat and glasses. Don't pick at exfoliating skin towards the last day, because you'll pull up the important color attached to it which otherwise would heal into the skin. Once the skin is healed in a week, daily sunblock (SPF 30 or above) is recommended to slow the normal fading of color due to UV exposure. Otherwise, no special care is needed at that time, except that you should avoid chemical peels of the tattooed area as well. Traditionally, permanent makeup and tattoo artists recommend that you buy petrolatum based aftercare, such as A&D ointment or Aquaphor, which you can buy at any drug store. I still recommend this. However, this is old technology, rapidly being surplanted by several products containing anti-oxidants and hyauleuronic serums which bind moisture to the skin. I am currently developing a hydrating aftercare product to increase color retention.


How long will my permanent makeup last?
Murphy's Law of permanent makeup is; Only the darkest and ugliest lasts forever without a touch up. Black is the only color that lasts more than a couple of years, and it's not appropriate in Caucasian clients for anything except eyeliner, in most cases. Too many artless technicians put black brows on blonde clients to make the color last longer...It never ceases to amaze me! Yellows fade faster than reds which fade faster than blues and blacks. Mixed colors will fade at different rates and will need touching up if they shift in tone over time. Colors also fade towards their base color if you don't maintain them. So a warm brown brow may turn pink two years later if you don't keep it touched up. Blonde brows will need retouching every 6-9 months. Medium browns every 9-12 months. Brownish black every 12-15 months. Black black eyeliner every 12-24 months. On the average, I suggest clients get touched up annually. You want to reinforce the color before it fades and shifts too much so that it always looks the same. If you maintain your permanent makeup, you'll always love it. I have clients who've been with me literally 15 years, who still look great because they come back for those maintenance visits. But it's up to you to do it. If you don't come back within 2 years for a touch up, you won't receive the discounted touch up rate starting in 2011.


Can I still get an MRI?
Yes. Although iron oxide colors are ferromagnetic, and may respond to a strong magnetic field by heating up, the small amounts of them in permanent makeup do not normally represent a problem. If you ever were to be uncomfortable during an MRI, it is a simple matter to remove you from the field and apply a cold compress. There are non-iron oxide pigments. But I prefer to use mostly iron oxide colors because of their inert nature and history of safety. In twenty years of practice, no one has ever come back to report an MRI problem after their permanent makeup.


What is my risk of getting a keloid scar?
A keloid scar is a raised scar caused by excessive flooding of collagen into a wound. It normally occurs after a major injury, not a minimally invasive procedure such as this. It is also more prevalent in the African American community. If you have had your ears pierced and developed keloids, you may well be at risk. I haven't seen it happen yet. But you undertake the work at your own risk.


Can bad work by other technicians be removed or corrected?
Sometimes. In the old days, the only form of tattoo removal was mechanical, with dermabrasion or carbon dioxide laser, which removed the color but always created a bad scar. Such removal should no longer be done. Today, pulsed ruby and Nd/YAG lasers can break up the pigment so that it can be removed into the lymphatic system by your skin's own "garbage trucks," the macrophages, without causing thermal damage and scarring to the surrounding skin. But it only works on darker colors, requires several treatments, and may not result in complete removal. Any white pigment (titanium dioxide) will fragment into particles too large to be removed by the macrophages, and it will turn the remaining particles grey or black. 

Doctors are often reluctant to attempt laser removal of any permanent makeup which may appear to contain white pigment (titanium dioxide). Also, no doctor I know will attempt laser removal of eyeliner because of the risk of injury to the eyes. Your only other alternative to remove eyeliner, pigments containing white, or resisitant colors, is mechanical removal by a permanent makeup technician. 

Mechanical removal can be done with various products. Some are acids which work, but which have a great risk of creating a scar. I prefer to use saline gel, which is highly concentrated and obtains good results over time, with very minimal risk of scarring. To do this removal, a saline solution is tattooed into the skin, and the open skin is painted with saline gel, which sits for 10 minutes before being washed off. A scab is allowed to form, and pigment attaches to the scab as it heals. When the scab falls off, it takes pigment with it. If done a little at a time, the skin will heal normally and you probably won't get scarring in the area. Expect to pay for multiple removal sessions, 4-6 weeks apart, to see significant results. Although the risk of scarring is minimal with saline removal, it can occur if the skin is overworked. Corrective color is a more difficult process, because the new color doesn't sit on the old color. It mixes together with it when the new tattoo heals. Light tattoo colors don't really block darker colors when tattooed over them; they just mix together with the old color, creating something intermediate. If you try to cover up black with anything lighter and warmer, it will take three times as much lighter pigment to begin to shift it towards brown. It will only shift; it will never cover up. That means that the best corrective approach is to lighten the color over a series of a few removal treatments before recoloring the area with corrective tattooing. The most readily corrected work is either too thin, too light, too warm, or only mildly asymmetrical so that it can be adequately adjusted by simply adding color to it without removal. If you can "fix" your problem with an eyebrow pencil, I can probably fix it easily with more permanent makeup. I have been very successful correcting such poor results by other technicians. But the best thing to do is to go to the right technician in the first place, and avoid the problem alto

When can you recolor scars?
To successfully recolor a scar, it should be flat, white, and mature. Normally that requires at least a year of healing after surgery or injury. Scar camouflage requires a high level of artistry. It's not as simple as painting a house. Skin color is naturally translucent. Simulating skin tone with tattooing pigments requires that various colors be layered into the scar in watercolor-like washes, over a series of visits, to create a natural look.. Scars turn red very quickly once the tattooing begins, and only so much can be done at once. Trying to do too much in a single visit can yield results which are either too light, too dark, or too opaque. Clients should not begin this kind of work unless they are willing to commit to a series of visit. Scar tissue lacks the component parts of normal skin. Scars are a network of collagen fibres which have flooded into the injured area to repair it. Scar tissue does not hold color as well as normal skin. That affects how many initial treatments are necessary, and how long the color lasts in the skin. Camouflage color does not tan or blush, but skin around the repigmented scar may change color naturally. So the degree to which the repigmented area "matches" the surrounding skin will vary from time to time. Although I've achieved some superior results, clients should aniticipate improvement, not perfection. Scars will never be normal skin again. Scars which are raised (hypertrophic) will still be clearly visible after repigmentation. Dark scars, either fresh or mature, cannot be naturally lightened with permanent cosmetics.


What about areola recoloration?
Restoration of the nipple and areola complex after breast surgeries often involves work on thinner tissue, normal tissue, and scar tissue all adjacent to one another. Sometimes color stays better than other times. Multiple visits may be required. The work often involves restoring both areolar color and the color of the adjacent skin to surgical scars.