Cosmetic tattoos

Permanent make-up is now an option for those seeking a new, lasting look for less than the cost of plastic surgery
Wednesday, December 17, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:45 p.m. CDT, Sunday, June 29, 2008

For some, cosmetic tattooing is a way to minimize the morning routine. For others, it is a way to feel better about their appearance. But for men and women who consider getting tattooed, experts recommend careful consideration before going through with the procedure.

Tools found at archeological digs in Europe suggest that tattooing may have been around since about 38,000 B.C., according to the book “Tattoo History: a Source Book,” by historian Stephen Gilbers. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of line and dot patterns tattooed on specimen’s bodies.

Throughout the centuries, tattoos became more popular and began appearing in other countries, such as Japan, China, England, and eventually the United States. Native Americans were well-known for their tattoos, and more people are getting them, according to Gilbers.

During World War II, tattoos became associated with the military, and sailors and soldiers illustrated their allegiance to their country and their women with body art, wearing the names of their units, ships and divisions proudly. Tattooists set up shop on docks and near military bases, and the practice flourished.

Cosmetic tattooing comprises such procedures as permanent makeup and reconstructive pigmentation. Permanent makeup is the art of tattooing eyeliner, eyebrows and lipliner, or to create fuller lips. Reconstructive pigmentation includes procedures like hair symbolization, which mimics hairs on bald spots, scar repigmentation and areola repigmentation.

The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals says cosmetic tattooing began in the 1980s, when aestheticians, electrologists, nurses and cosmetologists became interested in these procedures.

Darci McLean-Reichardt, a permanent-makeup artist and nail technician at KeLani Hair and Day Spa, was one of these first pioneers.

McLean-Reichardt has been doing cosmetic tattooing for almost five years. She began by taking a nine-month course in Arizona, and she is now certified by the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals.

McLean-Reichardt has practiced cosmetic tattooing on the West Coast and in Columbia, and she’s noticed differences in the demand.

“I worked on the West Coast for 3 1/2 years, and I was very busy. I am trying to get the word out about permanent makeup here so that hopefully in the next couple of years more people will be trying it,” McLean-Reichardt said.

One of the people who have already tried it is Andrea Kuhn, a cosmetologist at KeLani Hair and Day Spa. She has had permanent eyeliner for almost a year now.

“I decided to get it done after looking at ‘before-and-after’ pictures of other women who had had the procedure. Now it’s one less thing I have to worry about,” Kuhn said.

McLean-Reichardt offers permanent eyeliner, eyebrows, lipliner and full lips, as well as hair symbolization, and scar and areola repigmentation.

She charges $450 for eyeliner, $350 for eyebrows and $450 for lipliner and full lips, a price that also includes a touch-up because the lighter colors tend to fade over time.

Applying permanent eyeliner usually takes about two hours, while eyebrows take about 2 1/2hours, on average, McLean-Reichardt said. However, the length of the procedures vary depending on the person.

McLean-Reichardt has had permanent eyeliner for six years and lipliner and full lips for three years.

“It saves so much time. I just put some lip gloss on and I’m ready to go. My favorite thing about permanent makeup is how it helps women. It’s nice for older women that maybe can’t see as well when doing their eyebrows or lips,” McLean-Reichardt said.

Kuhn agrees. “I love having it and I’m really glad that I did it. It saves me a lot of time when I’m getting ready. I have thought about getting more and I would definitely recommend it to other people,” Kuhn said.

But cosmetic tattooing is not just for women.

Some men get cosmetic hair symbolization tattooing. The tattoo that covers the area is done using a technique that allows it to blend in and look like real hair. This is helpful to men who are balding and people who are undergoing chemotherapy and are losing their hair. Chemotherapy patients can also get cosmetic tattooing on their eyebrows and lashes, as well. Cosmetic tattooists also specialize in scar repigmentation, which can match the surrounding skin tone and blend in the scar to make it less noticeable. The best results come from scars that are flat and a lighter color than the surrounding skin, according to the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals.

Another cosmetic tattooing procedure is aerola repigmentation. People who have had mastectomy surgery and breast reconstruction can simulate the areola with permanent makeup. During repigmentation, color and shape of the areola are matched to the intact side, or a new color and shape are chosen for both breasts, blending the shape of the new breast with the client’s skin tone.

Is permanent makeup for you?

  • There is no upper age limit on permanent makeup. Women in their 80s can be good candidates if their skin is in good condition.
  • Women who have a hard time getting a straight eye-makeup line or browline or who have eyesight problems are excellent candidates.
  • Women who are active in sports should consider permanent makeup because it won’t sweat off.
  • Women who are public figures or work under spotlights can get cosmetic tattooing so they’re always made-up.
  • Busy career women can save 5 to 15 minutes each day by not having to apply as much makeup.
  • When permanent makeup is not for you

  • Women under 35 often are not good candidates for permanent makeup, because they generally do not need it and they might not be as comfortable with a permanent look.
  • Women who easily develop hyperpigmentation may not be good candidates.
  • Permanent lip color does not always work on people with darker skin tones because the melanocytes — pigmentation cells — in the lips do not allow for the tattoos’ pigment to show up properly.
  • People who tend to get cold sores should go on an antiviral medication before getting permanent lip color.
  • People who spend a lot of time in the sun or in tanning booths are not good candidates for permanent makeup since the UVA rays will alter the pigment tones, sometimes even turning brown brows blue.
  • People on certain prescription medicines or with existing medical conditions may not be able to get permanent makeup. Ask a doctor.
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    Andrea CosmeticTattooist February 10, 2009 | 11:40 p.m.

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