Fast Break

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Permanent makeup doesn't wash off but it does fade with time and sun exposure, so using sunscreen is important. Another application may be needed in two to five years.


Permanent makeup is more popular than ever as it can augment your natural beauty and is also a time saver. It is applied by making micro insertions into the dermal layer of the skin using natural pigments that can provide colour for years.

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This fall, beauty clinicians say the main trend in permanent makeup is microblading for eyebrows. “My technique is enhancing what you have. (Brows) can get wimpy and sparse with age, so I just try to bring it back to that natural brow you had by enhancing (what is already there),” explains Shauna McKeag, medical aesthetician at Cumberland Laser Clinic. “It’s not tattooing. It’s putting ink into the skin with blades, making little hair strokes.”

Charlene Jones, permanent makeup specialist at Artistic Spa, recommends keeping the natural shape of your brows. “Eyebrows should frame your eyes and complement your features. (Permanent makeup) shouldn’t overpower your face. It should enhance your features naturally,” she says.

Jones pencils out the shape of the brow for the client for approval before any work is done. “They always know exactly what they’re going to get before they get it,” she says. She advises clients to bring along an eyebrow pencil with the colour they like. “Give the technician as much information as to what you want.” However, she says a technician must understand how colour works with skin tone to ensure the end result is a natural look.

McKeag says while permanent makeup doesn’t wash off, another application will likely be needed in two to five years. The natural pigments will fade and just how fast that happens is different for everyone, she says. “Some people just hold colour better than others.”

The best way though to get the most staying power for your permanent makeup is to use sunscreen or stay out of the sun because the colour will fade faster, Jones says. “We always recommend after eyebrows are done to wear sunblock. Wearing SPF on the lips as well after they’re done will help to hold the pigment longer.”

Lip liner and eyeliner are also popular permanent makeup requests. McKeag says clients keep their eyes closed during the eyeliner application. Despite using a needle so close to the eye, she says it is perfectly safe as the needle has a guard on it. She says having the procedure done is easy and poses little risk. The needles used to implant the pigment into the skin are very tiny and although they don’t go nearly as deep into the skin as a regular tattoo needle, a topical ointment is used for numbing and comfort.

Having permanent eyeliner injected doesn’t have to leave you with a bold look. There are different styles of application. “People who don’t wear eyeliner every day but want to get rid of that washed out look, can have a lash enhancement done,” McKeag says. “It’s just a little bit of colour in between the lashes, a little deeper into the lash line, where the liner is more above your lash line.”

She says lip liner is also about enhancing. “It’s to bring back your natural colour.” After a permanent makeup application, it takes the skin about a week to heal from the procedure. “You would not want to go to a big event right after,”McKeag says. She says to keep the treated area clean and moist, use some Vaseline for protection. McKeag uses Health Canada approved pigment, which is natural mineral, iron oxide base colorant, and needles are not reused.

“It’s very rare to see an infection.” Another treatment McKeag offers is areola re-pigmentation for women that have had a mastectomy. She says it will create a realistic areola look after breast reconstruction by using a series of light and dark colours. “It’s almost like creating highlights and shadows to make it look natural.”

McKeag says one misconception about permanent makeup is that you cannot use regular makeup once you’ve had an application, but that’s simply not the case. Adding some colour to the permanent makeup can create a great evening look. “If you did (permanent) brown eyeliner, you could put blue, green, purple, anything for the night and it will just kind of pop over top of it. It’s easy to enhance.”