Permanent Makeup | Cost, Reviews, Photos | RealSelf (2023)

Permanent makeup, also known as permanent cosmetics or micropigmentation, is ink or pigment typically used to give the look of everyday cosmetics—most often eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, or lip color. Like tattoos, the ink is placed deep in the skin, making it permanent.

Anyone who is confident in the look they want long-term and wants to shave time off their morning routine may find it worth the investment.

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  • It streamlines your routine.
  • It’s a one-time treatment (though you might need touch-ups for fading, over time).
  • It allows people who aren’t confident in their own makeup application to achieve the look they want.
  • It can help minimize the appearance of scars.


  • Keloids and other abnormalities can appear after application if you have dark skin or are prone to scarring.
  • If you’re unsatisfied with the results, removal is painful and takes multiple sessions.
  • Most people feel some pain or discomfort during the procedure.
  • Average Cost:
  • $378
  • Range:
  • $89 - $800

The cost varies with the type of makeup, how many areas you have done, the number of visits you need, the experience level of your provider, and their practice location. When inquiring about costs, ask whether touch-ups are included.

Because the procedure has such a defining effect on your look and is so dependent on the skill and judgment of the technician, resist the urge to bargain shop.

(Video) Permanent Makeup Before and After: Eyeliner, Eyebrows and Lip Color demo.

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Start by focusing on licensed aestheticians who follow strict sterilization and sanitary practices and use up-to-date equipment in professional facilities. A trade publication for aestheticians and spa owners says that those trained in permanent makeup application should have at least 100 hours of certified instruction from the American Academy of Micropigmentation (AAM) or the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (SPCP).

As with any tattoo, your happiness with your results will depend greatly on the artistry and skill of the aesthetician or permanent makeup artist. Littleton, Colorado, plastic surgeon Dr. Nick Slenkovich cautions against taking this procedure lightly. He suggests carefully researching your options and seeing pictures of patients who’ve been tattooed by your provider. To get an idea of their skills and aesthetic sense or judgment, he recommends asking them to perform a trial makeup application, to make sure you agree on the final look.

Dr. Pamela Carr, a Sugar Land, Texas, dermatologic surgeon, says to look for an experienced permanent makeup technician who works under the supervision of a dermatologist or another physician.

During your initial consultation, discuss your desired look and color(s). Bring photos of yourself made up the way you want. Talk about the procedure itself, what method of pain control will be used to keep you comfortable, and aftercare.

Permanent makeup procedures usually take two to three hours, depending on how many areas you’re having done. This is followed by a shorter follow-up visit, about a month later, to evaluate results, check the healing process, and apply touch-ups.

Most people experience some discomfort during the permanent makeup procedure. Many providers will offer to apply a topical anesthetic to help with the pain, and it’s normal for minor bleeding to occur.

The pigment application is performed with a specialty handheld device, atraditional tattoo coil machine, a pen or rotary machine, or a handheld device.

For permanent eyebrows: The most common technique used for creating full eyebrows ismicroblading. This treatment is actually semipermanent, unlike many other cosmetic tattoos, and you’ll need a follow-up shortly after your first visit.

(Video) Permanent Makeup - Getting My Eyeliner Tattooed

During microblading, your provider will first sketch out your new brows. Then they’ll go over the lines with a small device that uses several tiny needles to inject pigment into the top layer of your skin. This results in fine lines of pigment that resemble individual hairs.

For permanent eyeliner: The area is numbed first, then a fine line is tattooed directly along the lash line. New tools, like the digital Nouveau Contour, make the treatment safer and more efficient, ensuring an even line.

As with microblading, you’ll need two appointments to ensure the best results.

For permanent lip liner: The permanent makeup artist will tattoo a line around the border of your lips in order to give them a more defined look. The lip liner works in tandem with shading done to the actual lips, to enhance the illusion of fullness. Some artists will shade down to the middle of the lips for a blended effect. The color you choose can be natural, or you can match a shade of lipstick you’ll be comfortable with permanently.

For permanent lip color: Lip blushing is another semipermanent technique, similar to microblading, that promises a lip tint lasting up to two years. Intended to give a more natural look, lip blushing involves shading, lining, and pixelating the lips to achieve the desired color.

First, a topical numbing cream is applied. Then, similar to how a tattoo artist uses shading, your provider will use a variety of needles to achieve the proper effect. Your lips will probably look darker than you intended, but you’ll lose a good deal of color after about a week. You’ll likely need at least one touch-up.

RealSelf Tip: You can get fuller lashes and eyebrows with serums formulated to helpeyelashesgrow, like Latisse.

Recovery time is minimal, and you should be able to go back to work right away, although the treated area will scab over, so plan accordingly. After the procedure, you may have some short-term redness, but bruising is rare. Swelling and tenderness can last up to five days. Permanent eyeliner, lip liner, and lip blushing tend to produce more swelling than eyebrow treatments.

Your provider will give you detailed aftercare instructions that you should follow closely. They may include using ice packs; sleeping with your head slightly elevated, to reduce swelling; and keeping the treated areas clean, with cotton swabs and a gentle cleanser.

Don’t expose your healing skin to any direct shower spray, skin creams, makeup, ointments or lotions—other than items approved by your technician—for at least three days after your procedure. You’ll also need to avoid direct sun exposure, tanning beds, hot tubs, saunas, saltwater chlorinated pools, and extremely hot water for two weeks.

Your healing time will depend on your treatment, since factors like the size and shape of your makeup and the depth of the ink all play a part. Microblading and similar semipermanent treatments will take less time to heal, and you should be free of the initial scabbing within a few days.

(Video) I Tried Celebrity's Secret Permanent Makeup | Microblading | Garima's Good Life (English Subtitles)

Generally, because the ink is implanted into the deeper skin layers, the treated area will initially appear much darker than expected. After a few days, the darker layer of surface skin will peel off to reveal the permanent pigment underneath. Don’t pick, peel, or scratch the scabs, even if they itch, since that can cause the color to heal unevenly and leave you open to scarring and infection.

If you’ve had your lips tattooed, it can take up to six weeks for the final color to “settle in” as a visible layer.

Keep in mind that some unevenness in color is to be expected. Your aesthetician will correct any color or shape abnormalities during a touch-up visit.

The pigment is tattooed into a deep layer of your skin, but the results will eventually fade. Avoiding retinols following your procedure will keep your makeup from fading faster.

Microblading has mostly replaced eyebrow tattooingbut will fade faster than a normal tattoo. In addition to the immediate touch-up after you’ve fully healed, you’ll need annual or semiannual treatments to maintain the look.

Permanent eyeliner and lipliner tend to last anywhere from three to five years, with the right touch-ups. With lip blushing, the color should last about a year.

More often than not, a permanent makeup pigment is used for microblading and similar semipermanent procedures. Depending on the look you want and the techniques your provider has at their disposal, you may together choose to use an ink more similar to traditional tattoo ink.

There are subtle differences in the compositions of the inks. As cosmetic products, pigments may be subject to tighter U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulationsaround their composition than tattoo inks.

You can find home kits for self-application of permanent makeup, but they come with a much higher risk of undesirable results and side effects. We strongly recommend seeking out an experienced artist for any permanent makeup procedure.

If you’re unhappy with your results, you have a few options. You can go through the normal tattoo removal process, which typically involves laser treatment. This process can be costly and painful, and it might lead to hair loss. A chemical peel can work to remove the surface layer of skin over your tattoo, to encourage skin renewal and help the pigment fade faster. If less fading is desired, microneedling might do the trick.


These cosmetic procedures shouldn’t be taken lightly. Possible risks include:

  • Pigment ending up where it shouldn’t be. Migration can occur if your provider tattoos over inflamed or swollen areas, overworks the area, or uses an incorrect needle size.
  • Infection. Unsterile equipment and needles can increase this risk.
  • Granulomas. The body occasionally perceives tattoo ink as a foreign body and forms nodules around it.
  • Scarring. People with olive or brown skin are more prone to developing scars (particularly keloids).
  • Allergic reactions. They’re rare, but ink allergies do occur and can be serious because it's tough to fully remove the pigment. Your provider should test a small area of your skin (other than the face) to rule out allergies.

Most U.S. states have their own safety regulations around permanent makeup and tattooing.

Published November 11, 2020 Updated January 27, 2022


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