My combined morning skincare and makeup routine eats up an hour of my life every morning—which is why the allure of permanent makeup is tempting. Not having to bounce my beauty blender on my dark circles, put on lip gloss, or re-do my eyeliner eleven billion times would make time for at least three extra cups of coffee in the morning (so necessary). Here's the thing: My pain tolerance is so low that I've cried while getting my teeth cleaned (I still blame the hygienist and not the fact that I hadn't flossed in two months). As for commitment? I can't even make up my mind about I want to have for breakfast in the morning.
Exactly how painful and permanent is permanent makeup, anyway?
I asked Dr. Jackie David—the microblading and permanent makeup expert at NYC's Jackie David Skincare—to breakdown the good, the bad, and the ugly about the four most requested permanent makeup services: Permanent eyebrows, permanent eyeliner, lip blushing, and permanent concealer.
Yup, we're talking microblading. You've seen it all over Instagram (and in medi-spas on literally every corner), but what exactly is it? According to Dr. David, microblading is just the deposit of pigment into the skin, like tattoos—just with a blade.
What's the process like?
"Microblading involves using a handheld, manual tool—either a blade or a rotary pen with different configurations of needles depending on what the client is going for," explains David. "If they want a soft, powdery brow then I like to use the rotary pen with the appropriate configuration of needles to deposit pigment, whereas using a blade creates sharper, more angular strokes. With the blade, you create slices in the skin, and in the slices you put the pigment on top and rub it in and let it sit. From start to finish, I like to give myself 1.5 hours."
Nope, you can get microbladed over your lunch—just don't wear makeup or spend too much time in the sun for 24 hours.
$500-$3,000, depending on the size of the area and the technician.
Microblading fades the most in the first few weeks, so it's easy to panic and feel unhappy with your result at first. Typically, you will need to do two sessions to get the final look.
No, I'm not referring to Pat McGrath' Perma Precision Liner—permanent eyeliner is, well, permanent (duh). If you love the look of a fuller lash line, but lack the necessary steady hand, this is for you. Permanent eyeliner uses European acupuncture to push color into the lash line, mimicking the look of a darkened top lashline that stays on through sweat, sleep, and showers.
Jackie David Skincare
What is the process like?
"Again, permanent eyeliner is just depositing color into the skin," says David. “I specialize in a very natural look, so I only do a very natural eyeliner. Meaning, I go right in the lash line and refuse to do anything thick on clients. It takes about 1.5 hours." David also refuses to (and advises against) permanent cat eye liner, permanent colored liner, and even black liner on lighter skin tones—brown is usually a more flattering fit.
Nothing serious, but David advises that her patients avoid eye makeup (especially mascara) for three full days.
Risks: Eye infections can occur if you wear makeup too soon or rub anything into your eyes. And if you do find a doctor who will give you permanent cat-eye liner, expect that to droop and crack in appearance as you age. You're better off avoiding it.
You guessed it, lip blushing is just another fancy way of saying a doctor is depositing color into the skin—in this case, your lips. Lip blushing uses a similar tool as the handheld rotary pen David uses for eyebrow microblading, just with a different configuration of needles.
What's the process like?
"Your lips are the most sensitive, so this is the most painful form of permanent makeup for most clients," says David. "For this reason, I use a topical, prescription numbing cream that sits for 15 minutes before I begin. I'm wary of nurses and doctors who use injectable numbing agents because your lips could swell, and that's altering the canvas that you're 'painting' on."
"I actually have to use a couple of different needle configurations [on the pen] throughout the process," she continued. "If I’m lining the lips, that’s a different configuration of needles than if I’m filling them. The whole process takes about two hours."
Nope, but you should know that you might be a little...shocked by your result at first. Natural pinks and nudes are the way to go when it comes to lip blushing, but since you lose about 50-75 percent of the color during your first week of healing, your lips are going to look pretty dark immediately following your procedure. Don't panic!
David charges $1200, but they can range anywhere from $700 to over $3000.
Infection is a risk whenever you're having a cosmetic procedure done, but David notes that swelling is more common with lips, especially during the first 48 hours after your procedure.
For the sake of full disclosure, this is not a treatment that David (or most other professionals for that matter) recommend pursuing. Basically, don't do it—no matter how tempted you are.
What's the process like?
"I haven’t done it, but I assume it’s about an hour, max," says David. " I would never recommend anyone doing permanent concealer. It does not fade nicely—on a lot of clients it ends up looking texturized, like cottage cheese. And because of the formula of the color that's deposited into your skin, you can't use lasers later in life if you want to tighten things up.
No serious downtime, but no makeup or sun exposure for 24 hours after a treatment.
$800-$2000 depending on the size of the area and technician.
Serious fade, discoloration, and inability to get laser treatments later in life.
Holly Rhue ELLE.com Contributor Holly is a skincare-obsessed contributor at ELLE.com.