Lipstick that sticks! Permanent make-up uncovered

Sick of mascaraed cheeks and lipsticked teeth? Chloe Marshall shows us the wonderful world of permanent make-up…

makeupPutting on make-up every day can feel like a chore, and yet some of us dutifully apply it every morning at the expense of extra time in bed. After a sweaty cycle or tube ride to work, said make-up may have migrated to another part of your face, making it less than presentable. Fortunately, semi permanent make-up offers a solution: have your eyeliner, brow liner and even lipliner tattooed on and then forget about it.

Micropigmentation is the technique used to apply particles of coloured pigment below the surface of the skin, using a fine needle at a depth of around two millimetres. Since a conventional tattoo goes in deeper at three millimetres, you can expect the make-up procedure to be significantly less painful than a tattoo. However, given that semi-permanent make up is worked into the sensitive facial skin, a certain amount of pain is to be expected, accompanied with the sound of needle buzzing that is reminiscent of a tattoo parlour.

Chrissy has been applying semi permanent make-up for over ten years through her company Lashis Ltd, and says that as a busy businesswoman and mother, she loves being able to wake up with make up. And it’s not just those of us who find make-up tiring that opt for a more permanent treatment, Chrissy also helps women with limited sight or dexterity: “they come away from it feeling glamourous and really good about themselves”.

Semi-permanent eyebrows are the most popular treatment, as many women have fair or thin brow hair as the result of years of plucking. Eyeliner is applied with a black pigment as standard, while brow and lip liner makes use of a wide range of colours to suit each individual. Your practitioner should be able to recommend a suitable range of colours; the trick is to choose pigments that match your skin tone, not your hair colour, for a natural and consistent look. Expect to spend some time with measurements and drawings on your face – no pigment should be applied until you’re totally happy with the shape, angle and thickness of the liner.

Siobhan had her eyebrows tattooed on and described the feeling as “scratchy, but no way near as painful as having them plucked, waxed or threaded”. Most practitioners use an anaesthetic gel to numb the area, making the procedure “go from scratchy to tickly”. However, some practitioners claim that the gel acts as a barrier, stopping the pigments from setting in properly, so you may be encouraged to forego the pain relief.  Emma had eyeliner applied without the gel and says she “wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy”, not least because she had to keep her eyes open throughout the whole experience! If you’re not masochistic, or are in any doubt at all about how much pain is involved, be sure to ask your chosen practitioner well ahead of booking in with them.

Be sure to follow the practitioner’s aftercare advice carefully, as your new make-up will feel sore for a couple of days. Keep the area moisturised at all times, and even though it will itch, resist the urge to scratch. After a week or two, your brows, eyeliner or lipliner will be fully healed and you can swim, shower and sweat as much as you like, and nothing will smudge or budge.

The extra definition and colour achieved from semi permanent make-up lasts from two to six years, and it may need to be topped up every couple of years to keep the colour bold. When shopping around for a semi permanent make-up artist, be sure to look at their portfolio and testimonials, and check whether they’re a reputable provider. Prices vary from £200 to £500 per area, and top-up treatments are usually charged at around half price. Chrissy is offering readers a 10% discount off her treatments. Simply quote “Biscuit” when booking at


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Chloe Marshall

Chloe Marshall is a London-based freelance journalist writing for the Huffington Post, The Guardian, Diva and of course Biscuit. Chloe loves to write about gender, sexuality and feminism, with a healthy dose of travel and culture on the side. She's into chicks, chocolate and cats, in no particular order.

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