Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Permanent Cosmetics

What Estheticians Need to Know About Permanent Cosmetics

 Judith Culp  CIDESCO, NCEA Certified, CPCP

Depending on the state you live/work in the licensure or certification requirements for permanent cosmetics vary greatly.  Many of the people who take up permanent cosmetics have an existing background in cosmetology: esthetics, hairstyling or nails.  Whether you are one of those who choose to take that plunge or if you are just fielding client questions about the industry, there are some things you need to be aware of.
No Extremes
Permanent makeup is not the place for anything extreme.  Makeup trends and fads come and go quickly. The client will be wearing this for years.  The last thing they need is something that makes them look dated. Because of the physiological changes to the face as we age, extremes in makeup can actually make us look older.  A conservative approach that can be augmented with cosmetics is a much wiser path and one that will stand the test of time.

Not for Everyone
No technician wants to turn clients away, but just as a client’s hair will limit the type of style that can be effectively employed so too there are some clients that are not good candidates for permanent makeup.  Prior to scheduling any appointment the permanent makeup technician should give your client a thorough consultation and help them make a good decision.  Lifestyle (sun exposure), health issues and other factors must be taken into consideration.  The more UV a client is exposed to the quicker the color will fade. On heavily sun-damaged skin or for those with an outdoor lifestyle, the tattooed color may not hold well.


Color Limitations
While there is a wide diversity of pigment colors available the range is not as wide as with topical cosmetics.  And then there is the SKIN factor.  Hair colorists seem to understand this concept well.  When the client comes in and wants her hair color changed the success of achieving the desired color is a combination of factors. Success is based somewhat on the stylist’s skill level but also the color of the client’s hair + the color she wants to achieve.  The same is true for permanent makeup.  Topical cosmetics coat the outside of the skin and create a new look.  Permanent cosmetics show through the epidermal tissue.  The color of that tissue affects the final appearance.  To complicate the matter, our skin tone varies with environment and time of day.

Lip color is the trickiest because of the vascularity of the lip area. All lips have a natural pink tone to them. If the client comes in and says they don’t want a pink tone, their technician needs to have a long chat with them to discuss what it is they do want to achieve.  It is all but impossible to avoid some pink cast to a finished lip color since that is the natural tone of the lip. 

Red tones are very sheer by their chemical nature and do not show up in the bold manner a tube of lipstick can.  They don’t have the opacity to block the natural lip color and the result may not be the true red the client had in mind. The client also needs to remember that the darker the lip color the harder it will be to cover it with a cosmetic.Another thought is the vivid bright red that may be flattering on a younger person may look harsh on a maturing face. Soft, natural enhancement that makes the face more alive is generally the safest approach.

Permanent cosmetic technicians try hard to please the client – sometimes to their own peril.  The client who comes in and requests a wine lip liner is a good example.  Wine has a strong blue cast.  Lips have a natural blue cast.  Blue + more blue = very blue.  If the technician follows the client’s request the end result will be one of those infamous blue lip liners you may have seen.  Likewise the client who wants brown lip color is a disaster waiting to happen.  The end result may look like the client has been sucking on a chocolate bar. Not a pretty thing to be stuck with for years.  Careful consultation and careful color selection is the key to success.


All Colors Fade
Every tattoo starts a slow fading process from the time it is healed.  The more the tattoo is protected from UV (the sun, tanning beds and fluorescent lighting) the crisper it will remain.  Tattoos are affected by the same things that cause hair color to fade.  Just as we routinely get our hair color refreshed, so permanent cosmetics and artistic tattoos will need their colors re-enhanced.  Frequency depends on UV exposure, lifestyle, medications and personal body chemistry. Those in the southern part of the US may need more frequent re-enhancements than those in the northern parts.  Other factors that affect fade rate include technician skill, the properties of the individual pigment and technique.  (Sort of the same things that affect the duration of our hair color.)


Corrections are a Challenge
I cringe when I hear someone saying that they can just “fix” any procedure that goes awry or take off the makeup if the client doesn’t like it.  Generally keep in mind that with permanent makeup, the client gets what they pay for just as in any other field.  The big difference is this is permanent. All removal forms run the risk of scarring and not all things can be removed. If there is one tiny dot or stroke out of place, this is something that can generally be adjusted. If the procedure is in the wrong place or done with a color that healed extremely poorly, the process is vastly more difficult. Use of removers can leave the skin discolored for months and their use requires special training to minimize skin damage. Permanent makeup should never be undertaken thinking that it can be removed.  It is called permanent for a reason – it’s permanent.  Even when the color fades, if a biopsy is done the faded color molecule is present in the skin.


Check credentials
If you have clients looking for a permanent makeup technician have them check credentials and do a thorough technician interview during the consultation process.  They are hiring this person and it is important there be a good level of professional confidence. How long has the technician been practicing? How much training have they had? Do they display current membership in a national trade organization? What about continuing education? This is a fast changing industry and annual continuing education is an important part of staying current.  The more they do their evaluation, the more they will be able to anticipate the type of outcome they can expect.  You may want to evaluate several technicians in your area and have a brief list that you can share with your client to start her investigative process.


Permanent cosmetics may have started as a fad in the early 1980’s but it has come into its own as an alternative to total dependency on topical cosmetics. The more the cosmetology specialist understands about this sister field the better we will be able to guide our clients to having a positive life-enhancing experience.


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