How long does permanent makeup really last?
If you’re someone who is tired of spending time drawing in your brows or eyeliner, or are even noticing some thinning or missing hair, you may have already stumbled upon permanent makeup techniques such as Microblading and Scalp Micropigmentation. These techniques, among others such as lip blush, eyeliner, and ombre powder help save time every morning and may even boost your self image, but the million dollar question (aside from price point 🙈) is how long do they last? Unfortunately, there is a lot of mixed information out there regarding this very topic so I will do my best to keep this very simple and to the point! The short answer, however, is no, cosmetic tattoos are not permanent. Keep reading to understand why.
Cosmetic Tattoo Vs. Body Tattoo
It is very likely that you or someone you know has a body tattoo and you may have noticed that they do not require touchups or any sort of maintenance. In fact, they are meant to last a lifetime BUT they do lose definition over time.
After first receiving the tattoo, the lines are crisp and the colors have a great contrast but unfortunately over time, the intricate details turn into blurred lines and what used to be black contrasting colors change into bluish-gray hues. While this may be okay for body tattoos, no one wants their brows or other cosmetic face tattoo to turn blue or lose definition!
My reason for pointing this out is to highlight one key differential factor between body tattoos and properly done cosmetic tattoos; the working depth.
Working depth is the most important aspect of cosmetic tattoos for artists to perfect because it essentially determines longevity as well as how the work will look once healed.
When working on the body, tattoo artists work in the dermis which is the second layer of the skin but when working on the face for cosmetic tattoos we only work in the epidermis (first layer) so it is very superficial. We work superficially to achieve a soft, powdery finish for shading techniques as well as to keep the color looking fresh and vibrant. For Microblading, working superficially ensures that the strokes stay clean and crisp which is what allows them to mimic real brow hairs. Keep in mind that the closer to the surface the pigment is implanted, the more sharp, vibrant and true-to-color the pigment will stay when healed.
Unfortunately however, longevity is sacrificed when working superficially because the skin naturally exfoliates due to collagen production and skin cell turn-over rate which causes a natural shedding process to replace old/dead skin cells with a new skin barrier. This is why touchups are absolutely necessary for cosmetic tattoos and the frequency of the touchups ultimately depends on personal factors such as skin type, life style, and age (I’ll get into this in another blog post!).
Proper working depth vs Too deep
Above you can see correct working depth (top two images) versus incorrect depth/too deep (bottom two images). Its very apparent that working more superficially yields more crisp and natural looking results while working too deep yields blurred and blotchy results.
Even though the incorrect depth will last significantly longer, would you really want this on your face for your entire life or a large portion of it? 😩 Or would you rather have the natural looking, crisp strokes and touch them up every year or so? Everyone’s opinion differs, but I think it’s safe to say that we’d much rather have natural strokes that require maintenance 🤷🏻♀️
Permanent makeup IS NOT permanent because it requires touchups over time. I always prefer to use the name semi-permanent to avoid confusion. However, it is important to note that while cosmetic tattoos do fade over time if they are not touched up, they do not necessarily completely disappear. There may always be a faint resemblance of the work that was done but of course this varies depending on personal factors such as skin type and life style.
Go into your appointment with realistic expectations and if you come across an artist that claims her work lasts forever, PLEASE be weary of them and find another artist because their work will likely resemble the images of incorrect wording depth I shared above.
Hope this helps and If you have any questions drop a comment down below! ☺️