It’s finally here! The permanent makeup post that I’ve been promising for months now!
I have both microblading and permanent eyeliner done and I get asked so many questions about it from friends and followers all the time. It’s becoming very common, but unless you have gone through the process of permanent makeup yourself it can seem so scary, confusing, and extreme. So I put together a list of all of your frequently asked questions about permanent makeup in hopes that it will help you if it’s something you’re thinking about having done.
If you have any other questions you want me to add, please leave them in the comments so I can make sure I address it! Or if you have your own experience you would like to share, please do so. Reading different stories and experiences is so helpful for others who are interested in the procedures!
If you want to read my full experience of getting permanent makeup, the consultation, the touch-up, and the healing process you can read my latest post, “My Microblading and Permanent Makeup Experience: What They Don’t Tell You About Getting Your Face Tattooed.”
DISCLAIMER: Before I begin this post, I just want to say that if you’re against permanent makeup, beauty procedures, or cosmetic enhancements, then this post is not for you. I know that many people are against things like plastic surgery or permanent makeup and that’s ok. Opting for cosmetic procedures and enhancement is a personal choice. If you’re not a fan then you don’t have to get it done! I don’t want this to be a platform where people would shame others for being interested in permanent makeup. Pretty please with a cherry on top, keep the negative comments to yourself.
Q: What is permanent makeup?
A: Permanent makeup is a cosmetic technique where the face is tattooed to resemble makeup. Permanent makeup isn’t just one particular technique. It can be performed to create full, shaped eyebrows, eyeliner on the lower or upper lashes, lipstick, lip liner, beauty marks, cover scars, conceal dark circles under the eyes, create the appearance of hair on people who are balding, or even darken the areolas after breast surgery. Permanent makeup enhances a person’s natural beauty, creates symmetry in the face, and fixes imperfections. For example, it can be used to fill in an area of the eyebrow that doesn’t grow hair so it appears full, or it can be used to line the lips and make them appear fuller too.
Q: What is microblading?
A: Microblading is different than a regular “eyebrow tattoo.” In an eyebrow tattoo, the artist literally tattoos the eyebrow in pretty much the exact shape that your brows are naturally. It looks dark, thick, and filled in. Most of the women I’ve seen with this are 60 years and older who like that dark, pencil makeup look. Not hating on it, just trying to give you an idea.
Microblading specifically refers to a style of permanent makeup where the artist uses a handheld tool and creates small incisions or cuts on the skin that are filled with pigment. It gives you hair-like strokes to appear more natural so it’s not obvious that your face is tattooed. The person will literally plan out each stroke of hair they will do ahead of time so it mimics the look and direction of natural eyebrow hairs.
With microblading, you are able to create a new eyebrow shape which could completely change your face and make you so much more attractive with and without makeup. The ink is also not placed as deep into the skin as a traditional eyebrow tattoo and uses much smaller strokes to look natural. However, because the ink is in smaller strokes and isn’t as deep in the skin, it will fade faster and require more touch-ups.
Then there’s microshading. Microshading is used to create a soft, powdered look that gives the effect of having the eyebrows filled in with powder. For this one, the shape of the eyebrow is planned out and created with little dots of pigment.
Q: Where did you get your permanent makeup done?
A: A woman named Stella from Professionals in Permanent Makeup performed the procedure. She was located at Taylor Lane Studio in Jacksonville, Fla., which is pretty close to the Avenues Mall. At the time I lived in St. Augustine so it was pretty easy for me to drive a half an hour up to Jax. When I get a touchup, I’m planning on going back to the same woman if she’s still there, but if she’s moved I’ll seek out someone in the Tampa or Orlando area.
Something you might want to know is that there are some amazing permanent makeup artists that won’t touch up other people’s work. So if you do want to get it touched up in the future, you’ll have to keep that in mind.
Q: Why did you get permanent makeup?
A: I have wanted to get permanent makeup ever since I first heard of it when I was 13 or 14. As a little girl and a teenager, I was obsessed with beauty, beauty products, treatments, and procedures. Just like many other young girls, I felt the pressure to look pretty. I would see so many beautiful celebrities and think, I want to look like that! So ever since the day I learned of it, I knew that someday I was going to get it done. Sadly, for a full decade, I actually felt like I needed it to look pretty, and that my face was somehow unattractive and incomplete without it. (I’m not sharing this for pity, I’m sharing this because the pressure to look good as a woman is so enormous and impossible to even describe. And I know that many women reading this might feel that as well.)
As I got older, I did manage to calm down about my appearance and I didn’t necessarily feel pressured to have permanent makeup to look better. When I did decide to get permanent makeup at 21 or 22, it was mostly about convenience. I wanted a nice shape to my eyebrows and I was sick of spending 10 minutes shaping, filling them in and correcting them each and every morning. (How I did that for years I will never know. I could never go back to spending that much time on my eyebrows again!) I wanted to shorten my routine and I wanted my eyes to be more defined so I didn’t need as much makeup.
I also wanted to finally feel confident without any makeup on. I remember so many times waking up at a sleepover or on vacation with family and being around people without having makeup on yet and being so self-conscious. I was so scared about what people would think of me that I didn’t want anyone to see me bare-faced. Even going to the beach without makeup, I felt uncomfortable and awkward and I couldn’t enjoy myself. But if I would try to put makeup on at a time like that (when it’s apparently not socially acceptable to wear makeup) I would get shamed for putting it on and would be called fun things like “high maintenance.” I will never understand why society pressures women to look beautiful, but then shames them for trying too hard…
Long story short, I got permanent makeup for my own self-confidence. So I could finally be barefaced without being uncomfortable and self-conscious.
Q: How long did it take?
A: I had both the eyeliner and the microblading done in one day, so it took much longer than it would if you were just getting one thing done. The entire process took about 5 hours straight. It felt like one of the longest days of my life. It took about 3 hours for the microblading and 2 hours for eyeliner. However, the touch ups didn’t take nearly as long. It was only a few hours for both the micro balding and eyeliner touch-up.
Q: Is it really permanent?
A: Permanent makeup isn’t actually permanent, it’s semi-permanent. It does require a touch up after a few years to keep it looking fresh and beautiful. Although I don’t know if it would ever 100% fade, once you tattoo a part of your body, it’s pretty much there to stay. However, permanent makeup is very different than a regular tattoo. The ink is not as deep in the skin, so I guess there is a chance that for some people it could fade almost completely after years. But I’ve had mine for a year now and it’s still going strong!
Q: How often do you have to get it touched up?
A: This question is tricky to answer because it’s different for everyone. I know, I’m sorry. I can’t stand it when people give me answers like that!
But the thing is, permanent makeup fades based on how oily someone’s skin is, how much sun exposure they get, and all sorts of other factors. If you go out in the sun without sunscreen all the time, if you have super oily skin especially around your eyebrows, if you apply oil to your skin every day, or if you sweat a lot, it will fade faster. So how often you need to touch it up depends on your own skin and your lifestyle. If you take care of it you could stretch the touch-ups.
Looking at different online articles, reading so many experiences, and talking with permanent makeup artists I hear very mixed answers about this. The most common response is “every couple of years.” Although some people say every year, every other year, every three years, five years, etc. Some women like it to look fresh, perfect, and brand new all the time, so if that’s the case you’ll probably want it touched up every year.
Again, I’ve had mine for a year and I still don’t think I need a touch up yet. It still looks great to me and I still get compliments all the time about how well-done and beautiful my eyebrows are. So I may not get a touch up yet, but I have been in contact with my artist and sent her photos to see if she recommends a touch-up. Kathy told me that she still think it looks good, but some of the color has “deteriorated” and gotten light in some areas so a color boost should help, but it’s not urgent. I’ll be planning a touch up in a few months when I hit the year and a half mark.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: So, I found the Professionals in Permanent Makeup through Groupon. I had been interested and searching for permanent makeup for about a decade and I knew that Groupon was a spot where permanent makeup was offered and discounted all the time. I found this one Groupon that offered a nice discount for microblading, permanent eyeliner, and touch-ups, and then even bigger discounts for a package.
I didn’t actually buy through Groupon, but I looked up the artist and saw all her hundreds of photos and I knew she was really good at it. I called the studio to ask a few questions about permanent makeup and they told me to pay directly through them and they would honor the Groupon price. That way, if I changed my mind after the consultation or didn’t need a touch up I would be able to be refunded.
So my cost is slightly cheaper than you would typically pay. To be honest, I don’t remember exactly how much it was, but I believe it was $500 for the first appointment and I paid another $250 for both the microblading and eyeliner touch ups together.
Q: How do they choose the color?
A: This is the question I was so curious about myself! I was so freaking scared that they would tattoo giant black lines on face for some reason, but that’s not at all how it works. They have different shades of color so they can match your hair color and make your eyebrows look natural. I had a light brown color done that looks close to my own hair color.
For eyeliner, they had black and brown ink. I chose the brown at first which they did NOT recommend, but I did it anyway (and then regretted it and had them do black for the touchup). It turns out brown pigment falls out very fast and looks patchy. At first, I was afraid that black eyeliner would look too harsh on me because I born a redhead with very pale skin. But because I had a very subtle, natural eyeliner look done, it doesn’t look bad at all.
Q: How do they choose the shape?
A: When you go in for a consultation, they’ll ask you a bunch of questions about what exactly you want, what look you’re going for, what shape you like, etc. You can even show them pictures so they can get an idea of what you’re going for. That helps the artist determine the shape a bit.
However, your shape is created the day you go in to get it done. They’ll thread the random little hairs and shape your brows, and draw the outline on you with what I would describe as a fancy eyeliner pencil. There are tons of measurements involved and drawing on your face to create symmetry and create the perfect, natural shape that compliments your face, not the face of a person you saw from a picture. They’ll go back and forth many times and continue to step away from you and see how the shape looks for your face.
They’ll literally create the shape for you, even if you hardly have anything to work with. They create the little subtle curve in the center of your brows, determine what thickness looks the best, how far the ends should come past your eyes, and whether the inside of your brows should be straight up and down or slightly angled. They literally think of every detail of the brow and take it into consideration to make sure that it’s what you want and what compliments your face and bone structure. I remember being very concerned that they wouldn’t create a nice looking shape for my face, but they do this for a living! Permanent makeup artists know how to design brows that compliment you.
Q: What did you talk about in the consultation?
A: The consultation was surprisingly short and we mostly discussed what look I was going for and some of the details. I showed them pictures and talked about how I wanted something subtle for my eyeliner and a more defined shape for my brows. We talked about the colors, the procedure, the healing process, and they got a nice good look at my face to talk about what I wanted.
I do remember being stressed out because Stella, the woman that actually performed the permanent makeup, was up and walking around and setting up for her next appointment and she couldn’t speak English. I was talking with a woman named Kathy from the Professionals in Permanent Makeup and then she would turn and talk to Stella in Spanish. So I felt like Stella wasn’t really paying attention to me, and it bothered me that I couldn’t understand what they were saying to each other. I was nervous that something I wanted – some detail I was looking for with my makeup – would be lost in translation leaving me with a botched microblading job. It would have been nice if she had sat down and given me her attention and looked at my face closer on the first day so I felt I was being ignored.
Side Note: You might be thinking, “Then why the hell did you let her tattoo your face, Heather?!” Because she’s f*cking good at what she does and I looked at her portfolio a million times!
Q: Is it painful? Do they numb you?
A: Ok, so this is what I wish I would have known about more than anything. I had done my research on permanent makeup and in every single experience I read, the women said it didn’t hurt, they didn’t feel anything, they fell asleep getting it done, they were numbed, and it was totally not a big deal. That was not my experience.
Microblading: For the microblading, it did f*cking hurt. Think about it, they are taking a little blade and making cuts on your face. UM, YES it hurts. Why do we not talk about that?! They did numb me, but if I remember correctly, I was being numbed during the process, so the first 20 minutes I felt every single cut on my face. OUCH.
Eyeliner: For the eyeliner, it didn’t hurt, the numbing hurt. I had to have 3 shots in each eyelid to numb me. And let me tell you, getting shots in my eyelid was one of the most excruciating sensations I’ve ever felt. They had to put one shot on each side of the eyelid and one in the center of it. When the shot happened it was a very sharp, painful pinch on my eyelid and then the numbing … liquid … I guess you would call it, would pop all over my eyeball. That was the absolute worst and just because of the shot I don’t think I’ll be getting my eyeliner touched up because I’m scared to do it again.
What they don’t tell you: Ok, here’s the thing people don’t talk about. Even if you’re not having pain in the area that’s getting tattooed, there was literally a person pressing and drawing on my face for 5 hours. She had to rest her arm hard on my face and she had to wipe my face and eyes many, many, many times. By the time I left, I definitely felt like I had my a** kicked and been punched in the face repeatedly. Imagine getting punched in each eye – hard – at least three times. It wouldn’t feel good, would it? That’s how I felt after. It felt like I had been beaten up.
Here’s the other thing they don’t tell you… You know how when you pop a pimple on your face or you get your nose pierced, there’s a strong uncomfortable, painful tickle sensation in your nose and eyes? You know how it makes your eyes tear up like crazy and you want to sneeze SO bad? I sat through FIVE HOURS of that feeling. I had to stop to sneeze and blow my nose constantly. I used up almost a whole box of tissues and actually had to keep them in my hand the whole time.
I’m not sure if everyone goes through this, because obviously everyone’s body is different. We all have different pain tolerances or feel pain stronger in certain areas. I also have some serious sinus issues and get chronic sinus infections each year so that could have contributed to the all the sneezing, nose blowing, and ticking for me. I can’t speak for everyone who’s had microblading and eyeliner done, but that’s what I felt like.
Q: What was the healing like?
A: Here’s the other thing no one talks about. Healing is not as simple as they make it sound. The day I left and the week following the appointment my face was very swollen and puffy. I had to avoid salt because it made my face blow up even more, drink tons of water, and sleep with my head elevated.
Microblading: The microblading healing wasn’t so bad. When your eyebrows are healing they feel itchy more than anything. All you want to do is scratch them, but you can’t. They look extremely dark because there’s ink falling out as your body is forming a big scar over your eyebrow, so it looks very strange and might make you panic that you’ll look that way forever. You have to let them heal and completely leave them alone and you’ll notice that there’s dead skin flaking off through your brows. When I noticed a bunch of it collecting, I would use a brow brush to get rid of the dead skin that was hanging around. I also was instructed to not get any water on them for at least a week. Or it could make the ink fall out. Let me tell you, I’ve never wanted to wash my face so bad.
Eyeliner: The eyeliner healing was the worst. Here’s a fun fact you probably didn’t know, when your permanent eyeliner heals you get a big scar over the area that was tattooed. The ink falls out and the scar looks gray and sticks out far from your eyelid. You can’t pick it off, it has to fall off on its own. And, what happened to me what half of the scab fell off and got stuck in my eyelashes, the other half was still stuck to my face which SUCKED. It looked super gross. Also, when the scab came off, so did my eyelashes… which if you know me personally you know how obsessed I am with long lashes, so I was traumatized.
Q: Do you still have to wear makeup?
A: I think one of the most common misunderstandings that people have about permanent makeup is that you never have to wear makeup. I guess it’s up to you and what you feel comfortable with though.
I think you do still have to wear it… Here’s why: For microblading, if you’re not wearing any makeup you can actually see the ink strokes if someone is close enough to you. Especially if you’re standing under a bright light or outside in the sun, you’re able to see the ink and you’re able to see the real hairs overtop of it. So to me, it actually looks a bit unattractive and obvious. When people see me up close in the light without makeup on, they’ll usually say, “You have microblading don’t you?”
Here’s the other thing, when I do my makeup, my powder foundation sticks to my hairs and lightens my eyebrows so I need to put on makeup to make them pronounced. I also think it would look super weird to have a full face of makeup and then not touch your eyebrows. To me, it would look like you missed a spot.
Also, the permanent makeup does not look as bold, pigmented, or pronounced as putting makeup on your face like actual eyeliner and eyebrow makeup. So, yes, I still have to wear makeup, but it doesn’t take me nearly as long to put on and I don’t have to wear as much of it. Most days I don’t even wear eyeliner now unless I really want my eyes to pop like for a night out or for a shoot.
However, when I recently talked with Kathy from the Professionals in Permanent Makeup, she told me that the goal of permanent makeup is to not have to wear any makeup at all. She says that I shouldn’t feel like I still have to put it on. Maybe that is the goal for many women, but I personally got permanent makeup because I wanted to have a shape to my eyebrows and eyeliner instead of having to create a shape every day.
Q: Would you do it again?
A: Yes, I 100% would do microblading again, despite the language barrier, despite the healing, and despite the pain. However, for the eyeliner, after experiencing it, I don’t think I would do it again. I don’t even know if I would ever get it touched up. It was honestly so terrifying, so long, and so uncomfortable. And the healing process was not pleasant at all. For at least a week after I got it done, I hid at Matt’s house and didn’t want anyone to see me at all. If I had known what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it. I’m so frustrated that the women who have permanent eyeliner never share a negative experience or what it was like getting it done. I think it’s because women don’t want to be shamed for going through something like this and hearing people say things about how they’re “high-maintenance” or “self-absorbed” or “too into their looks.” But after talking to so many women who had it and reading so many experiences, I felt very misled because no one really opened up about what’s it actually like getting your face tattooed.
Q: Are you glad you did it?
A: I didn’t like getting my permanent makeup done. It wasn’t like getting a massage and it wasn’t relaxing in any way, but I’m glad that I have it now. I get compliments on it all the time, I feel more confident without makeup, and I save time on my makeup in the morning. I no longer have to use eyeliner and filling in my eyebrows now isn’t a whole production.
I hope this helped!
There you have it! Those are my frequently asked questions about microblading and permanent eyeliner! I really wanted to create the post that would have been most helpful for me before I had gotten it done, and I wanted to be completely transparent about it. My goal is not to convince you to get it done or not to get it done. I just want to share my experience so you can decide if it’s right for you.
As always, remember to tell me your thoughts in the comments! Do you have any other questions about microblading and permanent eyeliner? Did you have it done OR do you want to have it done? If so, was your experience different than mine? If you want to have it done, is there something that concerns you about it or is holding you back from booking your appointment? Why did you get it done OR why do you want it done?
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Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.