AURI REYNOSO, a hairstylist in Englewood, N.J., says she wished to roll out of bed “looking beautiful.” So three years ago, she asked Melany Whitney, a qualified permanent-cosmetics professional operating out of New York City, New Jersey and Florida, to tattoo eyeliner and defined brows onto her face.
Though the procedure was “a little uncomfortable,” said Ms. Reynoso, now 39, she was delighted together with the results. “Everything for beauty,” she said. “It’s amazing tips on how to wake up looking absolutely fabulous and prepare in 5 minutes. I simply apply blush, lip gloss and mascara and I’m done.”
Permanent makeup, also referred to as micropigmentation or cosmetic tattooing, goes back to the early 1980s, in the event it was created to deal with alopecia, a condition that causes hair thinning (including eyebrows). Consequently, the field has expanded to add burn victims and cancer survivors, patients with arthritis and Parkinson’s disease that have difficulty wearing makeup and individuals like Ms. Reynoso, who will simply rather limit the amount of time spent before a mirror.
But although are thrilled using their outcomes, all will not be rosy worldwide of needles and ink. The saying “permanent” is really a misnomer because the color fades with time. Some patients develop granulomas, keloids, scars and blisters, and they report burning sensations when they undergo an M.R.I.
What’s more, even though the inks found in permanent eyeliner makeup and also the pigments over these inks are at the mercy of the scrutiny of your Food and Drug Administration, regulations for practitioners (electrologists, cosmetologists, doctors, nurses and tattoo artists) vary by state. “You could go on eBay and purchase machines and pigment and go in the garage and set up shop,” said Dr. Charles Zwerling, an ophthalmologist in Goldsboro, N.C., as well as an author in the forthcoming book “Micropigmentation Millennium.” He founded the American Academy of Micropigmentation, a nonprofit professional organization that provides certification for practitioners, in 1992.
“We see 1000s of faces being destroyed by people who don’t get trained properly, and that’s the largest symptom in permanent cosmetics,” said John Hashey, the property owner of John Hashey’s Advanced School of Permanent Cosmetics in Oldsmar, Fla. Mr. Hashey stated that 90 % of his industry is fixing mistakes. “Your average cosmetologist who cuts hair has to do 1,200 to 1,500 hours just to do that,” he explained. “How is that anymore important than getting a needle to someone’s eye?”
The negative effects to micropigmentation include infections like H.I.V., hepatitis, staph and strep from dirty needles, and allergy symptoms on the permanent dyes, said Dr. Jessica J. Krant, a dermatologist in Manhattan as well as an assistant clinical professor of dermatology with the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City.
A study in this particular month’s issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases reported an outbreak of mycobacterium haemophilum, a nontuberculous mycobacterium that triggers skin, joint, bone and pulmonary infections, after permanent makeup was used on patients’ brows. A report last September in Contact Dermatitis, a medical journal, investigated severe complications like swelling, burning, and the development of papules in four patients who had had no less than two permanent-makeup procedures on their lips. “In light of your severe and often therapy-resistant skin reactions, we strongly suggest the regulation and control of the substances” employed in the colorants, the authors wrote.
Nancy Erfan, an agent in Monterey, Calif., enjoyed a bad experience. In November 2003, Ms. Erfan, now in her own 30s, had permanent color put on her lips and eyes. The technician told her she could be swollen for a while, and gave her a cream to help you. But the swelling worsened, Ms. Erfan said, and very quickly she had “big bumps” around her eyes and lips.
“I could barely open my mouth to consume or speak,” she said. She visited many different dermatologists and plastic surgeons, but found no remedy. “They said I found myself obviously having a hypersensitive reaction, however they didn’t know what you can do.”
It ended up the colors used within the dyes by Premier Pigments, a manufacturer, was tainted; following the F.D.A. received a lot more than 150 complaints, the company eventually recalled the entire line.
Finally Ms. Erfan found Dr. Mitchel Goldman, a dermatologist in San Diego County who is an expert in laser elimination of tattoos. He did six treatments spanning a year, for a total of about $ten thousand, which insurance did not cover. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine helped with facial pain and swelling, she said. Dr. Goldman would really like greater F.D.A. supervision of permanent makeup. “I’ve had patients that have infections on the lips and eyebrows because these tattoo artists are eye1iner not regulated,” he was quoted saying. “They use equipment that’s not sterile. Lots of infections also come from the tap water. They dip their needles in and transfer infections. The pigment goes to lymph nodes. You never know if twenty years down the line patients may have lymphoma or cancer because of these carcinogens in tattoo pigment?”
Elizabeth Finch-Howell, the property owner and founder of Derma International, a permanent cosmetics manufacturer in Kempton, Pa., believes at the least 100 hours is sufficient. (She got a tattoo that matched her complexion to pay for up a port-wine colored birthmark on one half of her face, performing the method herself because “I didn’t trust anybody else,” she said.)
In terms of Ms. Erfan, she actually is still angry, years later. It took her more than a year plus a half to recoup, she said, and she retains scars in her lips. She must wear makeup to protect the scars and white lines above her mouth, and the facial pain persists. “Applying makeup is something, but injecting it to your body? I feel stupid,” she said. “But everything I read about permanent makeup was positive, how even Cleopatra was tattooing her eye liner and lip liner. I think it is safe.”