From Hailey Baldwin and Kendall Jenner’s matching broken-heart tattoos to Angelina Jolie’s well-documented series of body art, celebrities are no strangers to a touch of ink. But they’re not the only kind of tattoos favoured by the Hollywood crowd.
Semi-permanent makeup – a variant on the tattoo – is creating buzz among those seeking fuller eyebrows, lusher lashes, even more youthful-looking lips. They’re not the makeup tattoos of yesteryear: digital technology, more precise needles and blades, plus advancements in ink shades, yield more-natural looking results that last about two years, meaning you won’t be permanently inked if trends change dramatically!
The demand for Cara Delevingne-esque eyebrows has ushered in the craze for microblading. The most popular form of semi-permanent makeup, for many it is the answer to natural-looking brows, whether your genes left you with sparse hairs or you were overzealous with the tweezers.
Angelina Jolie and Gwen Stefani are said to be microblading enthusiasts, and 19-year-old actress Bella Thorne has invited fans in on the action, documenting every step of the procedure on social media.
Júlia Faria Elmassian, the L.A.-based microblade expert who crafted Bella’s brows, explains the appeal. “To the naked eye, you see hairs, not a powdered look or a dark line like you used to get with a traditional tattoo.” She uses a small angled blade, rather than a needle, to cut the skin in tiny strokes that mimic individual hairs. Ink is then deposited into each stroke.
“We use a manual tool, not a machine, and we don’t go as deep as a traditional tattoo and we don’t deposit as much ink, so we are able to create very fine lines that resemble hairs. I aim for very thin hair strokes that blend with a client’s real hair.”
A full appointment, including consultation, numbing and drawing, takes an hour and a half, with a touch-up appointment four to six weeks later. As for the level of pain on a scale of one to 10, Júlia says her clients rate it at a three. “It feels like a scratch for most. Clients have said it’s much less painful than a regular tattoo.”
It used to be that injectables were the only way to achieve a plump, pillowy pout, but thanks to advances in tattoo technology, repigmentation means youthful-looking lips are only a digital pen stroke away. “As we age, our lips crack and fade predominantly from wind, sun damage and use,” says Emilia Berry, semi-permanent makeup artist to the stars and founder of New York City-based PermaLine Cosmetics. “It’s common for lips to become patchy.”
Emilia offers an “ombré lips” service, using a digital pen to exert control over both the speed and depth of the needle to precisely implant a hint of colour that punches up a client’s natural shade by a hue or two. As a result, “the lips will have the illusion of fullness along with being rejuvenated and smooth, in a very natural way,” says Emilia.
She achieves this effect by matching the pigment colour to the inner lip. “This is usually the best indication of the natural lip colour. I then discuss the client’s desired result with them and adjust accordingly.” To create the illusion of fuller lips, Emilia enhances the lip line ever so slightly.
It’s worth noting that your lips will appear bolder immediately after a treatment, fading to the desired shade within three days and continuing to do so as they heal. That’s why Emilia recommends starting with a lighter shade. “We can always go darker at the touch-up. We cannot go lighter.” Like microblading, the process is quite brief – between an hour and 90 minutes – with a touch-up eight weeks later. Emilia says most clients rate the pain at a two to a four on a 10-point scale.
LASHINGS OF INK
While false lashes and eyelash extensions are standard for celebrities both on- and off-camera, a new procedure might make these standbys a thing of the past. Lashline enhancement involves a semi-permanent application of tiny dots and hair strokes, applied within the line of the lash, to give the illusion of a naturally full set of eyelashes.
Don’t get this confused with semi-permanent eyeliner, which is a decorative line drawn on top of the lash base. Lashline enhancement uses a digital micro-pigmentation pen to fill in any gaps in the lash line – top, bottom or both – for a denser lash base and a more defined eye.
After the two- to three-hour appointment, downtime is almost non-existent, with many patients returning to work immediately afterwards. For patients fearful of anyone wielding a needle so close to their eye, rest reassured that most clients rate the level of pain at a four. And like microblading and ombré lips, the results will only last a few years.
“Our faces change over the years as we age and trends also change,” notes Emilia. “It’s important that your semi-permanent makeup can adapt with you.”
‘To the naked eye you see hairs not a powdered look or dark line like you used to get with a traditional tattoo’