Photograph of Permanent Cosmetic Tattoo

Types Of Cosmetic Tattooing

Tattooing is more than just realism pieces and Japanese bodysuits; it’s an expansive industry that fosters a variety of techniques and skill sets. One subset of tattooing that is often forgotten from the conversation is cosmetic tattooing, which stands at the crossroads of science, beauty, and art. Cosmetic tattooing has come a long way from its early days, and it’s become a multi-billion dollar industry that’s introduced countless talented technicians and permanent makeup pioneers. Take a look at the most popular cosmetic tattoo procedures that are performed today and get ready to have your mind blown by these cutting-edge advancements in tattoo technology. Looking to wake up with your liner, brows, or lips already correctly done each day? Every kind of cosmetic face tattoo you can get and how they work — or don’t work, in some cases.

You’ve just rolled out of bed. Your blowout is intact. You grab a bottle of Soylent, throw on yesterday’s jeans, and get out of the house in under three minutes. Either you’re living in 2069 and have purchased a Jaclyn Hill x Google in-home makeup artist or you have a face full of semi permanent cosmetic tattoos. Know more about our microblading services. 

Chances are, you’ve already heard of microblading. Thanks to an exponentially exploding interest in brows over the past few years, the eyebrow-tattooing technique has gone practically mainstream. But brows are just the beginning. Cosmetic makeup artists are also inking on freckles, lip colours, and more — making it possible to wake up with a face full of makeup even here in 2019. But as cosmetic ink gets more common, it’s important to remember that the critical term in semi permanent makeup is “permanent.”

“Clients come in and say, ‘I’d never get a body tattoo,’ and in my mind, I’m like, ‘You know you’re tattooing your face right now,'” laughs Kendra Bray, owner of New York City salon Better Brows & Beauty. Here’s exactly what you need to know about microblading, lip blushing, blush tattoos, eyeliner tattoos, freckle tattoos, and scar camouflage before the moment that needle hits your face. Permanent makeup has been the go-to choice for all kinds of women for decades. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up in the morning, rinse your face, and go, with your face already made up?

Whether you find it challenging to get that perfect eyeliner shape, or if you would like to be able to skip a few makeup steps in your routine, permanent makeup might be worth considering. However, as with any effective cosmetic procedure, you should know precisely what you’re getting into before getting permanent makeup done.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about permanent makeup – precisely what it is, and how it is done, all of the pros and cons, the different kinds of permanent makeup services that exist, the safety concerns, maintenance, and even how to choose the perfect permanent makeup artist for you!

What Is Tattoo Makeup?

For those who are just tuning into our blog, we’ll first address what exactly tattoo makeup is. If you’re just getting started in this industry or you want to learn more to find out if becoming a technician is right for you, then the best place to start is here. Tattoo makeup, also known as cosmetic tattooing or micropigmentation, is a cosmetic procedure that benefits people who never want their makeup to run, smear, or apply it.

Photo of before and after microblading eyebrows

It’s also for people who would like to add ‘normal’ attributes to their body after accidents or surgeries. If a person is tired of traditional makeup, then these procedures can be the right route to go in. Tattoo makeup will permanently stay on your body and will never run or smear. After some time, you may have to reapply it, but for the most part, it’ll be on there for the rest of your life. As a technician, it’s your job to know the differences in the procedures and how they can help your clients be as beautiful and confident as possible. Now that you know what you could be doing as a technician let’s dive into the different types of procedures you can offer.

The Different Types Of Tattoo Makeup

Like any makeup procedure, there are going to be a multitude of different types that a client can choose to have completed. We laid out the more popular methods so that you can become more familiar with tattoo makeup. To get the desired results for your clients, you’ll need to understand what is required of each procedure and how the initial application is completed. For the full spectrum of what you can offer your clients, check out our educational courses to become an expert technician.


Microblading, the most popular form of permanent makeup, is a fancy name for an eyebrow tattoo. Instead of the shockingly dark brows, you may have seen on members of the Silent Generation, and the modern technique simulates individual hair strokes for a natural look. Cosmetic tattoo artists use a super-fine pen to deposit pigment directly under the skin. You may also hear names like brow feathering or microshading. “People will claim different techniques for marketing purposes,” says Bray. Other techniques still fall under the umbrella of natural-looking hair strokes, and the critical part is to study examples of your artist’s work and make sure you’re a fan before booking an appointment.

If filling in your brows is a crucial part of your beauty routine, you might want to look into microblading. To its credit, the procedure is dermatologist-approved. “I think it is an ideal treatment for restoration of the eyebrows,” says board-certified L.A.-based dermatologist Ava Shamban. She’s such a fan of the procedure that she even does microblading procedures in her own clinics. There’s one major pro to getting your work done at a dermatologist’s office: “We can be prepared for the unforeseen complications and act or react accordingly,” says Shamban.

Before and After Image of Eyebrow Shaping

Even if you choose to go with a cosmetic tattoo artist without a medical degree, talk to your dermatologist to make sure your skin is amenable to a tattoo. Bray turns away potential clients with oily skin or large pores. “Microblading only looks great when you can achieve fine details,” says Bray. “People with oily skin won’t heal with the crisp strokes you need to achieve a natural look.”

Like any tattoo, microblading does fade over time. Expect to return to your artist after 12 to 18 months for a touch-up. Exactly when to come back is up to you: “The pigments are designed to fade over time slowly, so it’s a personal preference when to come in for maintenance once the colour starts to lose concentration,” says Bray. “Some people fade a little bit, and they want more; others let it almost all fade out before they come back.” At a maintenance appointment, the artist will add a colour concentration to the existing work.

Infection is a potential risk for any permanent makeup tattoo (as well as just about anybody tattoo). “With all of these, we are opening the skin, and blood-borne pathogens can be spread, so you want to make sure technicians are using disposable, single-use tools,” says Bray. Your technician should open the single-use tool in front of you. Infection can also occur if clients don’t follow the proper aftercare, says Bray, which means keeping the area dry and staying out of the sun for about ten days. Your artist should also schedule a follow-up appointment after six weeks or so to ensure the skin has healed correctly and that you’re happy with the results.

Aside from the medical risks, there’s also the chance that you’ll be unhappy with the finished work and stuck with brows you don’t love for over a year. Research your artist to ensure their work resonates with your personal style.

Tattooed brows will run you about $600 to $1,000, depending on the artist.

Eyebrow Makeup

Another procedure you can offer your clients is eyebrow makeup. You’ve probably seen celebrities in magazines and on the red carpet who have more pronounced eyebrows. Now, this permanent makeup procedure helps to create those more attractive eyebrows. You will focus solely on making the shape and creating a more flattering brow. They will shape, fill out, and define the eyebrows. It will also create a more attractive brow by filling in the areas that are a little sparse. This procedure can help those who would like a more beautiful, perfect eyebrow: people who have undergone chemotherapy, Alopecia areata, and loss of facial hair. You can help your clients who have medical conditions and want to feel confident again have a more natural look. 

Photograph of Semi Permanent Eyebrow Tattoo

Hand Method Eyebrow Tattoo

The hand method uses hand equipment alone with no motorized or electric parts to tap pigment into the skin with great detail. This method is essentially based on more traditional tattoo techniques (e.g. Tebori in Japan) and is preferred by those who are unpleasant with the buzzing sensation of the powered machines.

Feathering Eyebrow Technique

This is essentially a mix of the shading and hair stroke practices, whereby strokes are made closer to one another other, creating a shaded dimensional appearance. Certain skin types will fair better than others with a feather shade eyebrow, so be sure to talk about it with your CPCP to see if you are a good candidate.See more of our  eyebrow feathering services. 

Powdery Filled Technique

The “powdery filled” technique includes a filling in or thickening of areas that already have eyebrow hair present with a soft or darker colour which varies in transparency. As opposed to producing hairline strokes from scratch to cover thin or bald areas, the powdery filled technique is best for those simply wanting shaping and an enhancement.

Eye Makeup

Eye makeup will make the eyes pop and hide those less than aesthetically pleasing areas around your orbs. The eye can be applied in a few different ways to help enhance them. There are permanent eyeliner and permanent eyeshadow. When it comes to permanent eyeliner, you will apply it to the top and the bottom lids on the eye. Like any eyeliner, you can create a variety of different looks. From softer to a more pronounced look, you can help your client get the look he or she would like with permanent eyeliner. For permanent eyeshadow, there are a variety of colours and styles that you can apply to the lids. Eye shadow is very difficult to apply, so you’ll want to pay extra attention to know how to apply this tattoo makeup procedure.

Permanent Lip Makeup

Lastly, we can help teach you about permanent lip makeup. This procedure is for those who are tired of applying lipstick or are dissatisfied with the appearance of their lips. As a technician, you’ll have people come to you and declare that they’re unhappy with parts of their body, such as their lips. With this procedure, you can offer your clients a few advantages, such as creating a more natural look, brighten the colour, and make a full lip. People who could be your clients might be unhappy about their crooked or thin lips, or they could want a more defined, fuller lip in general. Your clients could have pigments applied that is her favourite colour of lipstick, or they could have a more natural look. Permanent lip makeup comes in a variety of types and can be applied to any lip.Cosmetic Lip Tattoo Before and After Image

Lip Blushing

Lip tattoos may bring to mind the image of a fancy grande dame with permanent lip liner who never seems actually to fill in her lips. But according to Bray, the technique has been refined to its current form, known as lip blushing or lip tinting. The tattoo is a simple wash of sheer colour across the entire lip. Bray works with her clients’ natural lip shade to add a slightly deeper layer of pigment. The finished result should look like a just-bitten, blurred lip — the type of subtle colour that looks like you’ve just enjoyed a makeout session.

Bray describes lip blushing as a “more intense” process compared to other permanent makeup tattoos. “Since the skin on the lips doesn’t retain pigment as well as the rest of the skin, some clients require two or three touch-ups.”

People who love the blurred-lip look and have a high pain tolerance.

“Lips are a lot more sensitive than the other parts of the face, so people do experience pain and swelling,” says Bray. Expect to leave your appointment a little puffy and to spend a week looking like you just got fresh lip injections.

Once you’ve been through the multiple touch-up appointments needed first to achieve your desired look, the colour will last about a year.

Shamban admits that she “isn’t crazy” about lip-blushing tattoos. “There is a higher incidence of allergy to the red pigment in the tattoo,” she warns.

And in the unfortunate event that you do develop an allergy, be aware that there’s no easy fix: “When correction laser is done to remove the red pigment, it almost always turns black,” Shamban says. “Expertise, artistry, proper care, and advanced knowledge of the skin will give the patient the lowest risk of complications.”

Bray charges $1,400 for lip blushing, which includes touch-up appointments as needed to achieve your desired look.

Permanent Eyeliner

Eyeliner tattoos sit within or above the lash line to give the appearance of fuller lashes. Bray performs two types of liner tats: a traditional eyeliner tattoo and a lash line enhancement. The traditional tattoo is placed right above the lash line, leaving the effect of a distinct eyeliner line. The lash enhancement sits within the lash line for a more subtle, natural look. “If you’re not wearing makeup, a lash enhancement will just leave you looking like you have fuller lashes,” says Bray.Looking for eyeliner tattoo salon? Look no further,Cosmetic Tattoo by Rach got you covered.

The person who always works out in mascara and refuses to leave home without their liquid eyeliner on.

Scar Camouflage

Scar camouflage is a tattoo of the skin with flesh-coloured pigment to mask a scar. The most well-known use is for mastectomy scars, although artists can cover various forms of scars, stretch marks, or acne scars.

Bossy starts by assessing the scar and custom-blending a pigment to match her client’s skin exactly. She implants the pigment in fine layers less than one millimetre below the skin’s surface. The finished product will take two to three sessions, scheduled five to six weeks apart to allow for healing between each session.

Anyone with scars lighter than their natural skin colour is a generally great candidate for this service. This treatment does not work well on scars that are brown, purple or red. When that’s the case, laser and bleaching treatment should be done first, before undergoing the camouflage. While this treatment works well on hypertrophied scars, keloid scars are not a candidate for this treatment.

The scar (or stretch mark) also needs to be fully healed (usually takes eight to 12 months) so any residual redness or purple colours have totally dissipated and disappeared altogether, leaving the area with a disruption in the melanin production. “Because I deal with texture and colour in one procedure, this works especially well on stretch marks, which have not only lost their melanin but their collagen and elastin as well,” Bossavy explains. People who have hypopigmentation spots are also usually good candidates — again, because of the patches of skin that are lighter than your overall skin tone. Most often, these are caused by acne or sun damage.

Freckle Tattoos

Think of freckle tattoos as the rebellious little sister of the permanent makeup industry. Some artists don’t perform them due to the difficulty of maintaining an even fade on the face, while others would argue that freckles are naturally uneven anyway. New York City-based cosmetic tattoo artist Bethany Wolosky starts by drawing on individual freckles with an eyeliner pencil. She then uses a stick-and-poke technique — the method of tattooing with a single needle instead of a machine — to tattoo each freckle. (Each one takes about four or five pokes.) Using diluted pigment, she’ll slowly build a freckled face until the freckles look soft, natural, and just under the skin. Once she’s completed a first pass with the needle, she applies a numbing cream to the client’s face and goes in again to make some bigger or darker without extra discomfort.

Most of Wolosky’s clients are people who had freckles as children. “They got older and decided to stay out of the sun, so their freckles went away,” she says. “They want that youthful look without having to go out in the sun.”

Most clients return for a touch-up after a year or two, says Wolosky, depending on both how quickly the freckles fade and how dark they want the freckles to be. Skin-care products speed up the fading process, so expect to go back for maintenance appointments or let the tattoos fade entirely. One pro: Unlike other forms of permanent makeup, you can baby-step your way into freckle tattoos. (You can have a ranging amount of freckles, but you can’t exactly have one eye permanently lined.) Clients often return to Wolosky and ask her to add more in.

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