Facial Tattoos & Permanent Make-Up: How They’re Different…And How They’re Not.

Brows&Lashes{Today’s make-up free morning face,
featuring still-healing brows and cruelty-free mink lash extensions}

Yesterday I decided that I had reached new levels of hard-coredity and was ready to move forward with my very first facial tattoo. That is to say, I decided to take my dearly beloved cosmetologist up on her offer of Permanent Make-up. We started with my eyebrows {If you follow me on instagram, then apologies if you are one of the people I freaked out with my sometimes off-kilter sense of humor, when I shared my before and afters yesterday} with plans for upper & lower liner close behind.

e6cddffa90ba11e2bb3522000a1fb076_7The process began with Tess, the highly trained technician with whom I entrusted this borderline insanity, applying numbing cream to my eyebrows and surrounding area. Thus, the saran wrap on my forehead in the photo above. I mean, Hard. Core. (And although this is perhaps the most extreme treatment I’ve ever had Tess perform on me [she’s also my go-to for lash extensions, which you know I’m obsessed with] I can assure you I’ve had her run a gauntlet of cosmetic weirdness before allowing her to tattoo my face.)

TessThe adorable and talented Tess with her plethora of fancy diplomas.
{obviously, I was a little too amped to take a non-blurry picture.}

Tess showed me her tools, which were not the vibrating tattoo gun you might be imagining, but actually, as she explained, kind of like a smaller, modern, sterile-packaged, single-use version of what would be used in the traditional Tebori tattoo technique popularized in Japan.

Once I was sufficiently numb (not totally numb, mind you) and my brows had been given a quick once over and wax (BUT NO SHAVING – I TOTALLY STILL HAVE REAL EYEBROWS TOO) to make sure Tess had a good shape to follow, we were ready to rumble.

The worst part of the whole ordeal for me was the nose itch that comes with eyebrow mutilation (if you’ve ever been tweezed you know what I’m talking about) and the extreme amount of willpower it takes to not scrunch your eyebrows when something hurts you. Because what’s hurting you is that someone is tattooing over those very eyebrows and trust me when I say scrunching isn’t doing anybody any favors.

Honestly, on a pain scale of 1-10, I’d give this a four, max. A little more painful than a regular tattoo [in a fatty area, even though your forehead clearly is not a fatty area, but I’m just saying getting a regular tattoo on my hip was definitely more painful than this, while getting one on my back fat was not] because there’s no buzzing from the motor to numb the pricks, but not really any more painful than it might be to have your brows tweezed out one by one (which, to be clear, they were not — still have eyebrows, that was just an analogy for pain). Tess kept the numbing cream flowing so overall it was pretty darn bearable. There was hand-wringing and eye watering for sure, but I mostly kept up the chatter through the whole process, which — anyone who’s been through childbirth knows — means you aren’t really in that much pain.

Anyway, when all is said and done I will have natural-looking-yet-polished brows (I just made up that term) that require little to no maintenance ever. I’ll be able to follow the line when I tweeze, and if I mess it up it won’t matter because my brows are perma-filled. {Where by “perma” I mean “a maximum of five years” because that’s another difference between this and getting an actual tattoo on your face, these pigments are made up of yellows which degrade over time, and there’s even an antidote pigment that will obliterate the color if your Esthetician were to make a mistake, but I digress}. I went for a blond pigment, to match my natural hair color, rather than a red pigment to match my current hair color, because you know…permanent or not, five years is still a really long time.

ColorsDiff{above my pre-ink half-tinted eyebrow, on the left is the pigment
that was used, and on the right is the color that will appear while healing.
By next week my Tammy-Faye brows will have lightened to the color on the left.}

If I must, I can still tint my brows to match my hair color of the moment, but my new permanent makeup will prevent me from ever doing anything as absurd as THIS to myself ever again.

So far, I’m pretty psyched. I’ll share my healed photos with you guys sometime next week. I’m also holding out hope that I can convince Scott that permanent eye liner and a natural tint to my very pale lips are the final touches needed to complete my no-makeup required, roll out of bed to chase after toddler already looking human master plan. You say lazy, I say efficient. Tomato, tomaaaahto.

If you are in The 818 area and you want to visit Tess for some semi-permanent makeup of your own, you can find her at Skin Body Lounge, making beauty effortless for the overextended. Skin Body Lounge is my go to for so many things, airbrush tans, lashes, waxing, and now, apparently tattoos. The ladies of SBL run a ton of great deals on Lifebooker, too, so if you’re not signed up you’re gonna want to be.

Have you ever tried permanent makeup? Was it awesome? Do you think it’s extreme? And really, what would a beauty post like this be without a pinnable graphic?



Feed Me Seymour

  38 comments for “Facial Tattoos & Permanent Make-Up: How They’re Different…And How They’re Not.

  1. March 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    This is TOTALLY different than what I was expecting! I love it.

  2. March 21, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Oh my goodness. That just sounds so ouchy.

  3. March 21, 2013 at 7:44 am

    I couldn’t stop scrunching my face while reading.

    • Morgan
      March 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      Way to rub it in. ;)

  4. March 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I always wanted to get my pale lips tattooed. Great read to ease my mind!

  5. March 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Hmmmm. Given my wild eyebrows, this doesn’t sound like much of a help to me. But you look nice.

  6. March 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Interesting. I have NEVER tried it before. But I’m right there with you on the lashes. So important to have them lashes on!

  7. March 21, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I’ve always wanted to get my eyebrows tattooed. Thanks for the info.

  8. March 21, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    This was fascinating and you are very brave! I’m not sure I can handle even a 4 of pain, for elective stuff, but good to file away for future just in case! :)

  9. March 23, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Ow. Ow. Ow.
    Also, I kind of want it.

  10. March 23, 2013 at 11:43 am

    I have been seriously considering this, but I’ve held back because I don’t know anyone in real life who has done it. You’re giving me the courage! My eyelashes are so sparse on the edges that I ALWAYS have to fill them in. It would be so nice to not have to do this every day!

    • Morgan
      March 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Oh Dude, I am obsessed already. I LOVE how my brows turned out and I never really thought I had a real issue with my brows. I basically went for brows first because it seemed the least risky to see if I liked it before going for lids and lips, but now I’m very seriously considering both! DO it! My girl is awesome, although not super close to you, I trust her implicitly.

  11. March 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Lips. I get the appeal, because as I age, my lips have gotten increasingly pale. But color? Is it just beefing you up to a natural color? Do you have to choose a tint and then you’re stuck with it forever. I have never explored this before, and you’re planting a seed.

    • Morgan
      March 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      What I discussed with Tess was a subtle tint that fades towards the inner lip, so it just looks like natural lip color. Because I have none.

  12. March 26, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Okay, now I’m tempted. However, I’m currenty (very) brunette. If the greys take over, there’s a chance I’ll go back to blonde – then how would I look with super dark eyebrows?! Ugh.

    • Morgan
      March 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      3-5 years is all you’re committing to. And I went blond with the permanent despite currently having red hair. Go light and tint over.

  13. March 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I have twitchy eyes and have never been able to apply eyeliner. Seriously thinking about doing the “permanent” kind!

  14. April 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I had this done about 6 months ago and LOVE IT! I barely had eyebrows ( runs in my family) and my esthetician told me it would make me look years younger…I am 48. I cannot believe the difference it made and go out a lot without makeup now. Definitely one of the best things I have done for myself!

    • Morgan
      April 3, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      I love to hear that!

  15. Jamie
    April 3, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I am 59 and had my eyebrows and lips done 6 years ago. It’s interesting that you mentioned it lasts only 3 to 5. I think mine have faded some, but my daughters don’t agree. The eyebrows hurt about like waxing….but I won’t kid you, the lips were tough. I’d say more like an 8. But after it was over, I loved it and have continued loving it for 6 years. When I do need to have them re-done, I absolutely will do it!

    • Morgan
      April 3, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      I’ve heard that. Tess, who did mine, said “I’m not gonna lie, the lips hurt bad.”

  16. Aspen Harrison
    April 4, 2013 at 8:24 am

    About 7 years ago I had my eyebrows AND my lips done. Best thing ever!! I need to go back and have them re-done. It’s definitely worth the money and the pain. I highly suggest paying extra to a dentist to numb your lips right before your appointment. Then, head straight home, lol… you don’t want anyone seeing you with those swollen lips. :)

    • Morgan
      April 4, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      That is kind of genius.

  17. lynn
    April 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    I had my upper and lower eyeliner tattooed in August of 2008. I have 3 tattoos on various parts of my body and they were a piece of cake. But it took everything I had not to jump out of the chair when having the eyeliner done! I live in the south and the lady who did mine has a wonderful reputation and I had seen her work on other people and was very impressed. I had to take a break after she did my right eye. I went to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and about freaked out!! My right eye was already swelling humongously and it looked like someone had taken a black Sharpie and circled my right eye with it. I knew that I had to have my left eye done or I was really gonna look weird. She repeatedly applied the numbing cream but I promise you, it really didn’t feel like it was working. I could feel everything. In my mind at the time, all I could think of was that the pain felt like someone was taking a razor blade and running it across my upper and lower lashes. After 2 1/2 hours of torture, I threw on my sunglasses and drove the 30 minute drive home. I kept ice packs on my eyes for the next week and tried to rest as much as possible. I was also on vacation that week and I’m pretty sure I traumatized several small children with my swollen black lined eyes. After the swelling went down and the skin quit peeling, I LOVE the permanent eyeliner!! It’s a beautiful shade of blue gray like I asked for. I was supposed to go back in for a touch up, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Mine has faded a little but I’m gonna hold out as long as possible before I consider going back in for a refresher. Now I’m not a wimp, I have gone through natural child birth twice, stepped in a hole and snapped the ligament in my foot, had a vein ripped out of my leg and had various other injuries but the thought of the pain of re-doing the permanent eyeliner scares me!! I have very sensitive eyes and that may be the reason it hurt me so much. The permanent eyeliner along with my eyelash extensions have made me feel better about myself and if I need to go out in a rush and don’t have time for makeup, I feel like I look presentable. The woman who did my eyeliner did tell me that blue eyed fair skinned people did experience more pain with permanent eyeliner than dark eyed darker skinned people. Hope my experience doesn’t scare you, I love mine but I wish someone would have told me that there was the possibility that it could really hurt. Good luck!! And your brows look gorgeous!!

    • Morgan
      April 7, 2013 at 6:30 pm


  18. Nicole
    August 18, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I have thin brows and I have difficulty getting them in the shape I want with my powder. I’ve had days where I do my eye makeup for work and I leave the house only to see that I didn’t fill in my brows and that some of the powder from the day before has rubbed off I’ve seen a lot of different ideas of tattooing brows but have been terrified of actually doing it.

    • Morgan
      August 19, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      I can not recommend it enough. I bought my mom eyebrows for Mother’s Day this year.

      • Nicole
        August 20, 2014 at 9:11 am

        do you have any more pictures of the before and after?

      • Nicole
        September 3, 2014 at 11:27 am

        How long did it take for it to heal? Did it look out of the ordinary while they were healing? Does it peel like a normal tattoo? I am thinking about actually committing to getting this done. How many sessions did it take to get your brows to look how you wanted?

  19. Nikki
    September 12, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I had my eyebrows done in March and it was the best decision I ever made! I was one of those people who would NOT leave the house without drawing on my brows. It was crippling. Black girl with no eyebrows = Whoopi Goldberg. Seriously. Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Anyway, they’ve faded some already and I will absolutely go in again!

    • Morgan
      September 13, 2014 at 11:15 am

      YES!!! I love love love it!

  20. Alice
    January 6, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I just had my eyebrows done this past Dec. 2014. I love them. If your used to tweezing them then it’s a piece of cake. I had very little swelling in the area. This was done at Plastic and hand surgeon in a medical facility. I will go back on the 19th of Jan. for a touchup as one is just slightly higher but she sees it as no problem to adjust and these little mishaps happen that’s why we have a follow up. What a relief to know I don’t have to draw them on any more. She said it can last up to 10 years and if I need a touch up it would be around $100.00.

  21. Maria
    January 12, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    HELLo, i have an appointment this coming Monday but i think my period is coming is it painful tattoing eyebrow if you have your period??? Reply asap pls..thanks

    • Morgan
      January 17, 2017 at 6:20 am

      I don’t think it’s most painful on your period. Take some anti-anxiety medication beforehand so you can sit still.

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