Not for everyone; then WHO


Angelia Cole heard about it from her hairstylist. A different woman was tipped off by her facialist. Cosmetic tattooing—inked-on brows, eye- and lipliner heretofore associated with sun-dried retirees and Michael Jackson—is becoming a time-saver as indispensable to young female power brokers as international roaming on their mobile phones.

Call the procedure what you will (and many do, dubbing it everything from “permanent makeup” to “micro-pigmentation”), going under the needle means not worrying about smudged eyeliner at a last-minute presentation—among other benefits.

“It took me about 20 minutes every morning to pencil in my eyebrows after they were overplucked when I was 23 and they never grew back,” says Angelia, a 35-year-old marketing executive who recently relocated to New York City from San Francisco. She had brows and eyeliner inked on six months ago and declares the results “phenomenal, amazing,” and most important, “very natural.”

Cosmetic tattooers aren’t some splinter faction of the local Hart & Huntington franchise. They’ve long worked with plastic surgeons to create faux areolae after breast reconstruction or to camouflage white face-lift or breast-implant scars with pigment matched to the client’s skin tone.

But the desire for permanent makeup isn’t strictly contingent on time spent in the OR. “You’d think that women who love cosmetics and wear them all the time would be the ones coming in, but it’s the opposite,” says Malinda, a micro-pigmentation specialist who shuttles between the NYC townhouse offices of clean-skin-cheerleader dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD, and a plastic surgery center in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s the youthful, `natural’ beauties whose makeup is tattooed.”

While cosmetic tattoos are far more subtle than David Von Hoffman, handiwork, the tools are identical, from guns to ink to the clusters of sterile disposable needles. Yes, that could mean a bunch of spikes firing dangerously close to the eyeball. The pricks are shallow—only a tiny fraction of a millimeter, which barely reaches the dermis—but still. “We do worry that even if the needles are sterile, a viral or bacterial infection can occur,” says Washington, DC, dermatologist Jennifer Herald, MD, who doesn’t have a tattoo artiste on the payroll.

Most practitioners sketch their brow, lip, or eyeliner design on the client’s face before laying ink. Eliza Petrescu, Manhattan’s A-list eyebrow-tender and owner of Eliza’s House of Brows in Southampton, New York, which offers the services, and her on-staff tattoo artist, Lisa Jules, have even etched indelible eyebrow outlines underneath already ample brows, so “any waxer has a guide to follow,” Petrescu says. “And a woman doesn’t end up getting half her eyebrow removed.”

Complete recovery typically requires three to seven days. Lids and lips may be puffy for the first 24 to 48 hours, and every tattoo appears much darker for up to six weeks. No matter what shade you’ve chosen for your mouth, however, the area will be blood-red for two days before that layer sloughs off. 561-886-7863

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