Permanent makeup involves injecting pigment into the skin to achieve a look of regular facial makeup, except it won't wash off. The technique works much like inking a tattoo. Permanent makeup is most often applied to the lips, eyelids, as well as to the small section of skin directly beneath the eye in order to get the look of permanent eyeliner. Probably the most popular option right now is microblading, the process of tattooing small “hairs” into the eyebrows. Permanent makeup is also applied to cover up skin blemishes, discoloration, and other irregularities in the skin.
It’s useful for people who like the way makeup looks, but either have trouble applying it themselves or can't easily apply it on a daily basis. Examples include people who have severe allergic reactions to cosmetics, have a vision impairment, or suffer from tremors due to a stroke, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson's disease.
A Long-Standing Option
Permanent makeup isn't a new fad or trend; people have been undergoing permanent makeup procedures since the 20th century. The experts of permanent cosmetics believe permanent makeup didn't really start gaining in popularity until the 1930s, though, as permanent makeup artists didn't reveal the tricks of their trade until that time. Back in the 1930s, tattoo artist George Burchett, who was an early contributor to the art of permanent makeup, wrote in his memoir that beauty salons would "test" their techniques by injecting the dye into the skin of their customers unknowingly, offering the treatment as a free "complexion treatment."
Applying Permanent Makeup
Permanent makeup is applied by a tattoo makeup artist. You’ll skillfully cover the area in a specialized solution and then press (or inject) the permanent pigmentation into the skin. Permanent makeup markings will remain on the skin for a lifetime, but will typically begin to fade within two to 10 years. The level of fading depends on the color that was applied, individual body chemistry, sun exposure, and lifestyle.
Permanent Makeup Training
Each state in the U.S. has different licensure requirements for permanent makeup artists. Some states require a permanent cosmetic license while others require a tattoo license. Other states don't regulate the industry and don't require a professional certification or license at all. The American Academy of Micropigmentation breaks down what is required in your state.
Almost all the states require some kind of formal education and training before you can work as a professional permanent makeup artist. There is typically a minimum amount of educational hours you have to meet before you can start working in the profession. Some states only require a one-day class or a weekend workshop, while others require several weeks of educational training. Still others count formal training as an apprentice at a beauty shop or salon toward the required hours.
Your permanent makeup training and education typically involves both hands-on instruction and lecture, and can cover anything from how to set up your station and apply the makeup to anatomy and physiology.
Do You Need Certification?
Permanent makeup artists do not have to be certified; it is completely voluntary. However, it’s a very good idea to put in the extra effort toward becoming so. Besides the American Academy of Micropigmentation’s credentials, the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals also offers a certification to demonstrate your competency and credibility in the field. The SPCP’s 100-question, multiple choice exam has several requirements that must be met before testing, including proof of 100 hours of training and a completed bloodborne pathogens standard class.
Begin Your Training
If you enjoy applying makeup and cosmetic procedures, you should consider a career in permanent cosmetics. You’ll be in a creative industry, make a salary of approximately $50,000-80,000, and can offer the services on top of other cosmetology services. If you are considering entering the profession, start by checking the requirements of your state of residency, and then look for credible beauty schools near you.