Wake up to makeup: Some women undergo cosmetic tattooing

  • Makeup-Joani-Donovan

    Joani Donovan, of Holland, says cosmetic tattooing saves her time in the mornings.

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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  • Angie Scott tattoos eyeliner on Joani Donovan at Faces in Lamberville.
    Angie Scott tattoos eyeliner on Joani Donovan at Faces in Lamberville.

    Makeup trends come and go.

    Over the years we have seen everything from cat eyes to turquoise eye shadow and animal print lip covers. These trends may be fun to indulge in once in a while, but most women know that when you find a classic look that works for you, you stick with it.

    And some women are so stuck on their made-up look that they're sticking with it permanently.

    Cosmetic tattooing -- inked-on brows, eye and lip liner -- is one of the latest beauty trends women are indulging in. They call it effortless beauty -- the ability to wake up pretty with little effort and in a short time.

    "You get up, you shower, and you go," said Joani Donovan of Toledo, who recently had permanent eyeliner applied. "I'm not spending extra time in the morning putting on makeup. I'm beating my husband getting dressed."

    There's much debate among technicians on whether the procedure is in fact a tattoo or not. Some call it "permanent cosmetics" or "micro-pigmentation." But clients say that if going under the needle means not having to fiddle with makeup every day, several times a day, they'd prefer to call it "worth it."

    "'We're tired of putting on makeup every day.' That's what my clients tell me," said Angie Mougey, owner of Transitionz Salon & Spa in Bellevue, Ohio, and a licensed cosmetologist. "Once you get older, you don't see as well, your skin is looser, and it becomes more difficult to apply makeup. It becomes harder to get your brows on straight every time."

    Joani Donovan, of Holland, says cosmetic tattooing saves her time in the mornings.
    Joani Donovan, of Holland, says cosmetic tattooing saves her time in the mornings.

    Achieving the long-lasting look sounds more painful than it actually is, clients say, even though it involves taking a needle to the face. As in traditional tattooing, permanent cosmetic technicians, who are usually trained cosmetologists or aestheticians, use an electric needle and colored pigments or inks to apply the makeup. The use of topical numbing cream reduces the pain and constricts blood vessels, so there is little to no bleeding and less trauma to the skin compared with a traditional tattoo.

    "I went to sleep for part of the procedure because I didn't feel a thing," said Mrs. Donovan.

    To create brows, they trace the desired shape and fill in the space with hair-like strokes, creating a natural look. Eyeliner application involves using the needle to place color pigments along the base of the eyelashes, creating a fuller and darker look. Depending on the desired look, lips can be made to appear thicker and fuller or more colorful.

    Most looks take just over an hour and last for several years. Colors will fade or soften over time, so touch-ups, to refresh the look, are recommended as needed.

    Permanent makeup application is believed to have started in ancient Egypt, where permanent eyeliner was supposedly common among men and women. While the trend isn't necessarily new, it has re-emerged in recent years.

    In the four-and-a-half years she's been doing cosmetic tattooing, Mrs. Davis has performed more than 700 procedures. Angie Scott, also a medical aesthetician and owner of Faces in Lambertville, sees at least one client a day for permanent makeup.

    "It's pretty popular," Mrs. Scott said. "As people become more comfortable with the procedure, it's become more popular."

    Being pretty isn't cheap. At some Toledo-area centers, the cost of permanent eyebrows ranges from $450 to $650. Full lips can cost more than $750, and eyeliner, the most popular permanent makeup procedure, can cost $475 and up.

    In the Toledo area, it's mainly professional women over 40 years-old opting for the long-lasting look.

    "The older women are more comfortable with what their look is," said Karen Davis, a medical aesthetician at Bella Via Skin and Body Therapies in Toledo. "Most are professional women and retired women who can afford it at this point in their life."

    Lori Coyle, 57 of Sylvania, was skeptical about the technique, at first. But after realizing she needed her glasses to apply eyeliner, she gave in.

    "I was having smudges all around my eyes," said Mrs. Coyle, who had eye and lip liner applied, "I'm a professional. I wanted the look, but not the messy look I was accomplishing."

    For many, the "wake up to makeup" trend is solely for convenience. But some clients resort to having micropigmentation only after enduring trauma.

    "You give me a lady that's lost her brows, as far as she's concerned, that is trauma," joked Gary Rochte, a licensed derma technologist who started doing permanent makeup in 1988. Mr. Lochte, owner of the Derma Therapy Center in Point Place, has worked with patients, both men and women, who have lost their brows during cancer treatment or to alopecia and other conditions. He's also worked with burn and accident victims, to hide scars or skin damage. The procedure is not only beautifying, it's also a confidence booster, Mr. Lochte said.

    "A lot of times they're healed physically, but because of the [scars or disfigurement] they're not healed mentally," Mr. Lochte said. "This helps with their self-esteem."

    Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: rmullen@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.