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Permanent make-up: Cosmetic tattooing or micropigmentation

Permanent make-up, cosmetic tattooing or micropigmentation, is becoming increasingly popular in the beauty industry.

If you have faint eyebrows, no eyebrows or partial eyebrows, a cosmetic tattoo can help. A lip tattoo can reduce "lipstick bleed" and give definition to the lip line. With a coloured lip tattoo, lip scars disappear and you do not need to wear lipstick. Similarly, with an eyeliner tattoo, you need never use an eye pencil again.

Cosmetic tattooing also has more serious applications. For example, it can be used to improve the appearance of a nipple after breast reconstruction.

How it's done

Tattooing involves a needle that penetrates the skin and pigment then being released into the hole. The same process has been used for hundreds of years to create designs on skin. However, in more recent years, greater attention has been focused on proper sterilisation techniques.

What to expect

A patch test is done to find out if you are likely to have an allergic reaction to the pigment that will be used. You choose the colours you want. The technician then sketches the area to be tattooed with a sterile surgical pen. A topical anaesthetic gel is applied to the area.

Using a hollow vibrating needle, the technician applies the pigment into the top layer of the skin. Each time the needle penetrates the skin, a droplet of pigment is released into the hole made by the needle. You will feel a slight stinging.

Who's a candidate for micropigmentation?

Anyone (male or female) can have it done.

Do you want to improve the appearance of thin eyebrows or lips? Do you have an uneven hairline or allergies to make-up that create a problem? Micropigmentation may be a viable solution. It's not going to provide a perfect world, but it can help enhance certain features.


It takes about three weeks for the colour to fade to its permanent shade.


Complications and side effects

After the procedure, the colour will probably look dark and shiny, and the surrounding tissue will be swollen and red. Cold compresses can reduce swelling. Antibiotic ointment should be used to reduce the risk of infection. Complications are rare but can include infection or allergic reactions to the tattoo dye.

After the procedure, seek medical advice immediately if:

  • You experience excessive swelling
  • You develop a high temperature or rash
  • The area feels excessively hot or burns.


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