FAQ (I invite you to get the facts)

Is it really a tattoo?

Yes, although the pigments are not the same as tattoo ink, and the Virginia licensing process is different (I do not offer body art). For permanent cosmetics such as eyebrows, eyeliner and lip color, I use a hand tool. The tiny, sterile needles are discarded after one use. Their penetration of the skin is to a depth equal to the thickness of a dime (.135″), and usually isn’t deep enough to cause bleeding. To reduce and camouflage a scar, I use a machine which resembles an electric toothbrush.

Will it turn blue over time?

You may see this in work done elsewhere, especially when tattoo inks are used. Today’s permanent makeup pigments are formulated to match to your skin tones, and my work is fully warranted to fade in its original color, which should last at least two years, though I have done touch-ups on areas that are five years old. When the color has faded, touch-ups cost far less than the original work. During our consultation, I test the pigments for their compatibility with your skin.

Why doesn’t permanent makeup last as long as body art?

Alas, this is true, for several reasons: Tattoos applied to the face get more exposure to daylight, which has a fading effect. Secondly, facial skin has a lot more subdermal circulation with blood and lymph. Also, the skin turns over, replacing itself, at a greater rate. I have proven this by using permanent makeup pigments for body art; I have a tattoo on my ankle that is virtually undiminished after four years.

Does it hurt?

I use very effective topical anesthetics such as lidocaine (similar to novocaine) to make you more comfortable both during and after the procedure. The sensation is similar to tweezing (some say less so); some clients feel only the slight pressure. The discomfort passes more quickly than for a cut or a bruise.

How much does it cost?

The initial consultation visit is free, and carries no obligation. Eyebrows cost $425-495, eyeliner costs $325-$425, and lip color costs $550. Maintenance color costs $95 for eyebrows (each visit), and should only be needed year or so. Color enhancement and/or correction for work done elsewhere is priced individually according to anticipated difficulty. Paramedical procedures for areolas, scar camouflage and other kinds of losses are priced individually, depending on the work required. Initial applications of permanent makeup include a twelve-month warranty against discoloration or excessive fading.

Permanent makeup should be considered a time-saving investment

Putting on your makeup for ten minutes a day over a period of one year amounts to 48 hours. You can wake up in the morning with your eyebrow, eyeliner and natural-looking lip color already in place. It won’t wash off in the pool or at the beach, and will never streak during exercise. My work carries a 12-month warranty against discoloration or excessive fading.

How long does it take?

I like to proceed slowly, beginning with a (free) consultation on my client’s present makeup design. We choose colors carefully, using digital photography to make sure I understand my client’s preferences. The process is highly collaborative. You should allow about two hours, so that we are not rushed, though the actual procedures take from one to one-and-one-half hours. In the follow-up visit four weeks later, refinements and touch-ups will be possible, and I check to be sure that the color has settled in properly. Most procedures require two visits; lip color, because of the greater surface area and the character of lip tissue, usually takes three visits. The cost takes this into account.

What about the recovery?

There will be a small amount of puffiness and irritation, which passes in a couple of hours, though not enough to make anyone wonder, “What happened to you?” For a few hours after eyeliner, the eyes are a bit puffy and reddish, as with allergies. Following lipcolor, a person would need to use a drinking straw and avoid salty or juicy foods for the rest of the day. The affected area should be kept mostly dry (no soaking or immersion) for a week. There is no residual pain, though it might itch a bit, and lips may peel as though chapped.

What are the risks?

I do everything I can to minimize the likelihood of allergic reactions—this is why the client profiles are so detailed. I use sterile needles and universal precautions against infection, just the way your doctor does. I also take your picture three times: before the procedure, without makeup, to show our starting point; with makeup, showing the desired result (in an effort to give you exactly what you want); and after the procedure. I have a wide range of colors to match individual skin tones and aesthetic preferences. Note: In the years that I’ve been in practice (since 2009), there has never been an allergic reaction to the pigments or (thanks to my clients’ careful home-care) any report of infection.

The pigments used for permanent cosmetics are different from tattoo inks

The FDA has not ruled on pigments for tattoos or permanent makeup; the ones I use are made in the US and have been accepted by the FDA for use in foods (where they are ingested in far greater quantities than for permanent makeup) and cosmetics. The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, of which I am a certified member, is vigilant on the matter of pigment safety. SPCP-approved pigments are comprised of ingredients which have been established as safe, and their manufacturers are required to list all ingredients and their batch numbers on the label.

I am not aware of any actual cases of MRI difficulties. I quote from my professional organization’s website (www.spcp.org): ” According to Dr. Frank Shellock of Tower Imaging in Los Angeles, CA, a top expert in MRI safety, [out of the thousands who have had permanent makeup applied], only a handful of people have reported minor problems around the eye area and no problems around the lip or brow area. … Test studies have confirmed that the ‘iron’ particles in pigment are too microscopic to react as true metal pieces but rather are more accurately compared with ‘metals’ which already exist microscopically in the body.”

I have 20 years of experience as a technician; my aesthetic sensibilities developed in a prior career in photography and graphic design. For permanent makeup, which I’ve been doing for more than seven years, I have been trained and licensed in a course of study approved by the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as attending workshops with highly experienced specialists from around the world. I hold a professional certification from of the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, and I am affiliated with the American Academy of Micropigmentation. I receive referrals, as noted below, which should tell you that I’m trusted by people you trust.

I have a portfolio of client histories, with before and after photos (used by permission). I receive referrals from the following: Charlottesville’s Signature Medical Spa; Charlottesville Skin and Laser Center; Dr. Michael Godin, a facial and reconstructive plastic surgeon; Body Essence in Fishersville and Roanoke’s Medical Grade Skin Care. I also provide areola repigmentation for breast-reconstruction patients of the University of Virginia’s Plastic Surgery Clinic, referred by Dr. Kant Lin, Professor of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery and Pediatrics Division Head, Division of Craniofacial Surgery, by Dr. S. Asfa of Asfa Plastic Surgery in Harrisonburg, and others.