I Tattooed My Face In Pursuit of Perfect Brows and Lips
“You’re doing what?!” my best friend, who is usually very supportive of all my cosmetic endeavors, yelled into the phone. “You’re going to tattoo your lips? I’m saying this out of love: I think you’re really crazy.”
By Megan O’Brien
Nov 17, 2015
Saying full lips are a beauty trend implies—falsely—that the tide will soon change and small, thin lips like mine will be all the rage again. But the fact is, skinny lips haven’t been in fashion since Clara Bow was Hollywood’s It girl. In 1927. I’ve been in search of a fuller top lip from the time I was eighteen and started doing very painful collagen injections. I was living in Manhattan and doing some modeling work and my agency told me that without better lips, I’d never book a gig. It was 1994, the early days of injections, and to say the pain was excruciating would be an understatement. But I looked fantastic. I would be back in four months.
Needless to say, advancements have been made. I’ve been seeing cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Simon Ourian (you may know him as Kylie Jenner’s guy) for injections for years and yes, over time, my top lip has gotten bigger. No one is mistaking me for Angelina, but there’s something there. But while Dr. Ourian is great and the pain factor has drastically decreased since my early collagen days, it’s still not fun and it’s maintenance of the every-four-months variety. So, as someone who is always looking to try the latest and greatest, I wondered, “What if there was something else out there?”
I’d been hearing amazing things about a semi-permanent makeup artist from Europe named Emilia Berry, who runs Permaline Cosmetics out of New York City. Berry specializes in what she calls Micro-Stroke Brows ($950, includes a free touch-up) and Ombré Lips ($1,050, includes a free touch-up)—a new, subtle cosmetic tattooing technique with results that last three years. Now, I’ve never gotten a tattoo in my life, but I have had marriages that lasted longer than three years, so this seemed like a commitment I could handle. After seeing Emilia’s work, I promptly booked a flight and traveled 3,000 miles to meet her—first for the brows, which I overplucked to the point of no return in my youth and have been drawing on every morning since. (When I walked into her office, I was in shock—she could pass for a European supermodel. I don’t want to get hate mail from the Association of Face Tattooing, but she was not fitting the image I had in my head of a borscht-loving, heavyset woman with a thick accent.)
Emilia got right down to business, picking a natural-looking color for my brows and drawing it on in the most flattering shape with makeup artist precision. She numbed the area with lidocaine cream, turned on the tattoo pen and got to work shading my brows with micro “brushstrokes” that mimic real hair. The process was slightly uncomfortable but not painful—a completely manageable 2 on a scale of 10. When she finished, I looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe how real my eyebrows looked. It opened my face up and made me look younger. I would have to come back to New York within eight weeks for my touch-up, at which time I planned to do my lips.
Back in Los Angeles, I decided to talk to Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, to find out what happens to our lips as we age. I’m turning 40 in July—which I’m fine with!—but it’s the age when it seems, at least in L.A., society starts to fade you out. Turns out, that’s not in my mind: “Caucasians lose about 35% of pigment in their lips starting at age 35,” said Ellenbogen. “The lips also start to lose fat, but the top lengthens and folds over, giving an unhappy, sagging appearance.”
My friends were not as understanding. “You’re doing what?!” my best friend Kristen, who is usually very supportive of all my cosmetic endeavors, yelled into the phone when I asked if I could stay with her in New York on my next trip back. “You’re going to tattoo your lips? I’m saying this out of love: I think you’re really crazy.” Her response was not unlike others, who told me horror stories about their elderly aunt or grandma who got bright red lip liner tattooed around the mouth and now resembled a clown who forgot to apply lipstick. But I trusted Emilia and I know her work is going to be the next big thing, so I went back for my brow retouching and lips.
The Ombré Lip takes your natural lip shade and punches it up a tone or two (Emilia and I went with a subtle rose shade)—it’s like waking up in the morning already wearing your favorite pinky-nude lipstick. The technique doesn’t actually make your lips bigger (I’ll still be visiting Dr. Ourian a few times a year), it just gives the appearance that they are and adds youthful color and definition—remember, this lasts for three years! I was a bit more nervous about the pain this time, so I took a Xanax before we started. Combined with the topical numbing cream, I was good to go for the hour-long session, during which Emilia carefully shaded around the edges and the Cupid’s bow. When she finished, there was no blood, no sharp, freshly tattooed looking lines, no soreness—I was able to go straight out for drinks and dinner. (Later that evening, I saw my friend Kristen, who greeted me with, “OK, seriously, your lips look amazing.”)
I can’t stress enough the importance of researching this decision. Emilia spends half her day correcting the mistakes of other semi-permanent makeup artists, so take your time finding a skilled professional, insist on seeing before and after pictures and ask to speak to a current patient. You can shop at Nordstrom Rack and go to Trader Joe’s, but you are not allowed to hunt for a bargain tattoo for your face.
Guys Are Tattooing Hair Onto Their Bald Heads
Dealing with hair loss is common enough—some 66 percent of men experience it to varying degrees before the age of 35—but there are surprisingly few options for combatting male pattern baldness. That said, it seems like several breakthroughs are right around the corner. From magic solutions that are this close to getting approved by the FDA, to advancements in hair transplant surgery that put the plugs of the ‘80s to shame, there’s are some promising technologies coming down the pike. Until then, there’s this: Scalp Micropigmentation. Tattooing thousands of hair follicles onto your bald head. It might sound like a tragic grooming move but actually, it doesn’t look half bad
Matt Lulo of Scalp Mirco USA in New York City claims to be one of the first hair loss experts to open a scalp micropigmentation clinic in the U.S. The service, brought to our attention by Circa.com but around for some years, involves tattooing little dots in place of hair follicles, so it looks like you have a buzz-cut instead of a bald, or partially bald, head. Unlike today’s hair transplants which can cost over $10,000, the service costs just over $2,000. There’s also an ink option that isn’t permanent, for guys who aren’t sure they can live with the look forever.
We’re still partial to the straight-up, bald-and-proud approach but we’ll leave this one up to you. Men are doing far weirder things to enhance their looks these days. This is the least of our worries.
This could happen to anyone.
When I came across Jasmine Collins’ Instagram page, I nearly cried at the pictures of women with sparse hairlines. The hairstylist is known as the Razor Chic in Atlanta, Georgia, and her feed made me realize that I’ve been practicing a very bad habit for nearly all of my life.
A few weeks ago, Collins shared a video of a woman who suffers from severe hair loss. At first I thought, “This would never be me.” But after watching the entire video, I realized I had something in common with the young lady. I have been wearing my hair in similar hairstyles for years, including box braids and sew-ins. And just like many other women who enjoy having perfectly done up hair, I had never considered the consequences.
“Traction alopecia occurs when you have hair that is pulled too tight,” Jeanine B. Downie, M.D. tells SELF. “You’ll see the effects of traction alopecia after wearing tight ponytails, braids, and extensions repeatedly without giving the hair and scalp a chance to recover.”
It is in many cases irreversible. And personally I find it upsetting because it’s something that is very pervasive among African Americans. But of course, anyone wearing hairstyles that involve jarring tension is susceptible to damage. “Just think of a seven-hundred-pound woman hanging off a cliff by a small tree branch. It’s going to cause traction,” says Downie. And the owner of the Razor Chic salon agrees, “Sew-ins are almost like tweezing the hair from the follicle,” Collins tells SELF.
So why do so many women consistently wear these styles when balding is a risk? “A lot of people have very busy lifestyles, and they do it for the convenience,” says Collins, who also leads educational classes on haircare. She also sent a much needed reminder, “Beyoncé does not wake up Beyoncé every single day.” Downie agrees, “I think that the problem is caused by the thought that you should have a good hair day every day. The fact is: hair is hair. Some days are great. Some days are not so great.”
Luckily, Downie says that traction alopecia can be detected early. “If you are braiding your hair and you have fine bumps on your hairline, that is a sign that your scalp is reacting to the fact that it is being pulled to tight,” says Downie.
And using bonding gels to apply extensions is just as harmful as the tight, twisting motion of braiding. “Glue is the opposite of what anybody needs in their scalp,” says Downie. “It can lead to serious infections, deep inflammation, and can worsen traction alopecia.”
Although most cases of traction alopecia are irreparable, you can treat early signs with a few options. Downie recommends the brand Viviscal, which specializes in hair thickening products. And if you’re looking for a safe style, don’t completely rule out braids and extensions. Collins is not anti-extensions. She stressed, “The problem occurs when you live in one particular look day by day and year after year.” Remember, give your hair a break from hairstyles. If it hurts, that’s not a good sign.
When men & women begin to lose their hair, it can affect not only how they see themselves, but how they feel about themselves as well. Their confidence and self-esteem can be lost and they may not feel as attractive as they once did. Though there are many types of hair loss treatments available, not all of them work, leaving men & women suffering hair loss with few options. That’s why scalp micropigmentation is the best course of action for those in this position, because of the numerous benefits this procedure can offer to those suffering from hair loss.
1. No False Claims -There are dozens of products on the market that claim they will re-grow hair, but most of them have no effect at all. They are purchased and used because some people will believe anything in the hopes of a cure for their baldness. Micropigmentation is different, because it is not for hair growth, nor does it claim to be.
2. Affordable – Because scalp micropigmentation is a permanent solution to hair loss, there is no need to waste hard-earned money on ineffective tonics or shampoos. It is also only a fraction of the cost when compared to hair transplants. There isn’t even any need for post-procedural medications or care products, which means more money kept in the pocket, where it belongs.
3. Safe – The treatment does not use any chemicals, which means no side effects. It also doesn’t require any incisions, so there is little risk of infection. There is also no need to fear the needle that is used to add the pigmentation to the skin, because a local anesthetic is used.
4. Fast Procedure – This simple procedure, which is basically hair tattooing, is finished in only 3 sessions. This means only a few hours must be spent to achieve a perfect shaved-head look. And even after the first session, the results are quite realistic.
5. Fast Healing – Because of the non-invasive procedure of micropigmentation, healing time is limited to only a few days. In fact, most people who choose this procedure are back to work within two days. There are no dressings to change, or stitches to be concerned with. All that is needed is thorough cleaning in the following weeks.
6. Little Maintenance – Because there is no real hair, there is no need for expensive hair products, nor is there extra time wasted on styling. Simply wash the pigmented area, and if it is desired, add a bit of hair wax to add a bit of shine, and head out the door for a night out with friends, or a special lady.
7. Look Younger – There can be the perception that balding men are automatically old. This does nothing to boost a man’s confidence if he is younger, because looking old can actually make a person feel old. Because the scalp micropigmentation gives men back their hair, and also creates that shaved-head look that is worn by even the biggest movie stars, men can reacquaint themselves with their younger self.
8. Looks Realistic – The purpose of this procedure is to give men & women back their hair, even if it is not actual hair. That is why the pigments are matched to both existing hair color, as well as skin tone, for the most realistic look achievable. Even what direction the natural hair growth would have taken is considered, to be sure of a genuine look.
9. Long Lasting – Because a scalp micropigmentation will last for years, there will never again be a shortage of confidence to match the shortage of hair. The pigmentation will never fall out, and it can be updated to match changing styles, or even to add a new color.
10. Hides Imperfections – For those with scars from past injuries, or even from hair transplant procedures they had endured in the past, the micropigmentation creates a bit of camouflage for these imperfections. It can also help to mask a receding hairline, making hair appear fuller.
Eyelash Growth Serum and How it Affects Permanent Eyeliner
By Debbie Miller (Owner Newport Permanent Make Up)
Let’s talk about:
EYELASH GROWTH SERUMS
This is a comment from a patient on RealSelf Cosmetic Surgery Website talking about using Latisse prescription Eyelash Growth Serum :
“Legally blind because this was used in my eyelashes for 3 years. I have corneal dystrophy in both eyes and legally blind. Do not buy this product. Many doctors will not even sell it. This drug was first used treating glaucoma but druggists suddenly realized it made eyelashes longer. I am now a victim with damaged eyes.”
Now this is obviously a very extreme case where a patient suffered from the worst possible side effects. Most commonly the side effects of Latisse are darkening or redness of the eyelid along the lash margin, irritation and itching and visible red capillaries in the upper eyelid. Not horrible, but not optimal. The reason I am discussing Latisse use is in relation to permanent eyeliner. When a permanent eyeliner procedure is performed, a cluster of tiny needles is used to implant pigment directly into the lash line, and then thicken up from there depending upon client preference. If the client has been using Latisse within 60 days of the eyeliner procedure, severe bleeding can occur- which is traumatic to the skin ( trauma can cause scar tissue) and will usually prevent the pigment from implanting properly into the eyelid skin, making the procedure a waste of time and money. If the client has been using Latisse for a long time, or within 2-4 weeks prior to the procedure, it is possible to see the lid skin literally split or separate upon contact with the permanent makeup needles.
So what is Latisse exactly? The drug Bimatoprost was used for many years as an eye-drop medication to treat glaucoma. The side effect of this medication was extreme eyelash growth – ophthalmologists would often have to trim the lashes of patients being treated with this drug. Finally at some point, it was determined that a lot of money could be made by using it as a lash growth treatment, and was patented as a topical application for lash growth by the pharmaceutical giant Allergan. Then the marketing came along to promote this drug to cosmetic and plastic surgeons, dermatologists and any other medical specialty that might have the patients that would buy it.
There are some other side effects that have gotten negative press – such as the drug having the possibility of darkening the iris (the colored part) of the eye- this has actually never been documented with the topical application , only the in-eye drop medication. It does, however, cause darkening and redness in the eyelid and can cause extreme inflammation of the skin with lots of capillaries close to the surface. Since the eyelids are the thinnest skin on the entire body, this can be a problem, especially in fair skinned patients.
After years of being in the dark, finally an ophthalmic surgeon spoke at a Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals convention, and explained all of this information and gave new insight to the permanent makeup industry. We now know and understand the mechanics of the process, which is to keep the lashes in their natural growth cycle longer than they normally would before naturally shedding so a new lash can take it’s place. This phase of the lash cycle where the lashes are actively growing is called the Anagen cycle. Normally only about 40% of the upper lashes are in this phase at the same time. Latisse keeps the lash in this cycle longer and more lashes are in the cycle at the same time, creating longer and thicker eyelashes. It really is something that most of us aspire to have – thicker, longer and more gorgeous eyelashes. But are the side effects worth it? One thing for sure – you MUST stop using Latisse or ANY OTHER eyelash growth serum for a minimum of 30 days prior to a permanent eyeliner procedure. If you are having new eyeliner and may need a touch up after the 1st month, you need to wait to resume use of lash growth products until after the touch up is completely healed.
As an alternative to Latisse, I have personally used and recommended Revitalash for years. I have such long and thick lashes that people ask me almost daily if they are my own lashes. The beauty of the Revitalash is that it is not a strong prostaglandin as in the prescription Latisse, but works equally as well without the side effects. It is also a product developed by a physician for his own wife who had suffered eyelash loss during 2 separate bouts of breast cancer and chemotherapy.
I love to support the commerce and creativeness of the entrepreneur, instead of the pharmaceutical giants. In about 2008 Allergan sued Revitalash to stop the production of the competitive product. They both used the same active ingredient. but Allergan owned the active ingredient and went through FDA testing to get it approved as a prescription, thus throwing the competition out of the ring. Revitalash was forced to change its formula. However, nothing was ever done about the Revitabrow product, since Allergan did not spend millions marketing an eyebrow growth product. Today, we use and recommend the Revitabrow formula to be used on the lashes as well as the brow. It works fabulously on any active hair follicle that still has the ability to produce hairs. The ONLY difference is the applicator. The old lash product was a tiny brush, the brow product has a tiny sponge tip – which I personally find better at not wasting product. With any new lash growth product, you need to use is every night on clean skin for at least 30 days, and when your lashes reach your desired level of fullness, you can maintain by applying 2-3 times per week.
We still recommend our clients discontinue the product for 30 days prior to eyeliner procedures just to be safe, as any effective lash growth product will cause some increased capillary action (bleeding & discomfort).