Permanent Cosmetics – In my Opinion

By Marjorie Grimm CPCP

I have been offering permanent cosmetic services since 1993 and during that time, my opinion of design and color work have, as all things do, changed somewhat from my original perspective.

In the early years it seemed reasonable to do exactly as my client asked without question, which was normally to apply the cosmetics the way she typically put it on with topical makeup. This made sense since the idea was to save her time, and after all, how she arrived at the appointment with her makeup or demonstrated to me with topical makeup was how she wanted to look.

As the years have quickly passed and these same clients have returned for their color refreshers, I have developed somewhat a different opinion. Not that my opinion is the deciding factor, my work must mirror what the client decides is good for her, and I remain steadfast that if my client’s requests are tasteful and reasonable, I’m all for it.

But, if you ask my opinion on the subject of color and design work and apparently you must be somewhat interested in that or you would not be reading this, I’m glad to offer some insight to what the artist behind the procedure thinks.

Nicely placed eyebrows in a color that compliments your skin tone and marries nicely with any existing hair you have in the eyebrow area can result in the appearance that can have your friends and family suspecting you had a face lift. Properly placed eyebrows in a color that compliments your skin tone are very important to your overall appearance.

The existing eyebrows must be cleaned up to match in their natural design as closely as nature will allow. The design will be somewhat dictated by the width of your existing brow hair. Tattooing puts color IN the skin and hair lies on top of the skin and has dimension, texture, and the illusion of movement. The closer the permanent cosmetic design remains within the perimeters of the existing hair, the more soft and natural the healed permanent cosmetic eyebrow will appear. Many of my clients have no remaining natural eyebrow hair and that allows design width options more open to preference.


Color will be offered based on your skin tone and also somewhat dictated by the existing eyebrow hair if you want your healed permanent cosmetic eyebrow to appear natural. There is a wide range of pigment colors to compliment any brow hair color and as long as it is complimentary (doesn’t have to exactly match but look nicely together) you will be pleased with the results.

Eyeliner designs vary from an eyelash enhancement which just darkens the lash line and leaves no sign of tattooing on the eyelid tissue.

 This is the most natural appearing decorative procedure offered.  If you prefer top eyeliner (which always includes the darkening of the lash root line, i.e., eyelash enhancement,) the positioning of the eyelid and surrounding skin has an influence on how the eyeliner will appear when healed.

Those clients who have one top eyelid that lies lower than the other will want to consider the lowest lid position as their guideline for design width.  The truth of the matter is that many people would benefit from an eyelift surgical procedure if they indeed want a very wide top eyeliner design with tapered tips as shown below.  Keep in mind that although this is a very attractive design, the skin surrounding the eye changes as we mature and more frequent maintenance is required to keep the eyeliner appearing fresh and graceful.  Less is typically better from that perspective.  With conservative eyeliner women can always add with topical makeup for special occasions.

If the condition of the skin surrounding the eyes are not similar on both eyes, eyeliner applied precisely the same on both eyes will not ultimately appear identical once the client sits or stands and the weight of the skin influences positioning.  These are all subjects that we discuss at your appointment but having information here on my site provides the opportunity for you to apply your eyeliner as you might ask me to tattoo it on permanently and then go to the mirror, and without the affects of expression, (don’t raise your eyebrows,) look at how the eyeliner appears.  Can you see it equally on both eyes?  If you have drawn in extended tips at the outer corners do they appear even on both sides?  You can never go wrong with an eyelash enhancement or one that is accompanied by conservative upper eyeliner that begins and ends at the first and last eyelash.  Wider more dramatic eyeliners require more consideration.  Everyone looks wonderful with an eyelash enhancement and modest top eyeliner, but not everyone looks as nice as they could with very wide dramatic eyeliner only because the surrounding skin tissue will have its way with how it ultimately appears.

Lower eyeliner is normally an easier design decision, however there are considerations.  Some people ask for the bottom eyeliner to extend from the extreme outer to extreme inner corner of the eye.  The picture below represents what I consider to be the extent of distance that should be requested.

For some this is request is just fine.  For others, especially those that have already had a lower eyelift or laser skin resurfacing procedures, the tissue surrounding the lower eyelash area has been altered.  Although it may not be obvious that there are differences, when you accent the lower lash line with eyeliner that must be placed adjacent to the lash root line, these differences (if any) may be noticeable and dictate that the line be placed in a manner that does not bring these differences to the forefront.

Color selections for eyeliners are normally dark.  Fashion eyeliner colors, like the example above (moss green) are less requested but available.  The smaller the line of vision, the darker the color must be to be seen.  Many clients will choose a darker color (black, black/brown, brown/black, charcoal etc.) for the eyelash enhancement and top liner procedures, and then choose a slightly lighter lower eyeliner color.  There is no steadfast rule for eyeliner color selection.  This is all based on your preference.  For those with medium brown to very dark eyelashes, you will want to consider a color choice darker than your eyelash color.  I realize that to many black may sound harsh, but consider that this color in going in your skin and the color of your own skin will heal over it resulting in a softening of the final color appearance.  

In both instances of upper and lower eyeliner, just remember that things change and I believe women like the opportunity to alter their appearance for different social events.  How you might like to look at a special event where photographs are being taken or in dim lighting, etc. is not necessarily how you might want to look every day.  Less is better.  You can always add more for those occasional special occasions. 

Finely defined healthy lips are very attractive and permanent cosmetics is an ideal procedure to restore lost shape and color. Lips are a muscle; they have no hair follicles or pores.  They are totally dependent upon external moisture application. Lip tissue is very different from the surrounding skin that does have pores, produces body oils and has hair follicles.  As a result, in my opinion, it is not wise to extend the lip design far past the vermilion (lip line) of the natural lip.  If a person desires fuller lips, that requires the expertise and the products provided by the medical industry.  What permanent cosmetics can do is to restore definition to a faded or barely detectable lip line, providing refreshing color.

I feel natural lip colors are the best selection for long term satisfaction.  Because the lips do not provide their own moisture, even women with permanent cosmetics apply lip balms and some begin their day with a lipstick, full knowing that when that lipstick wears off they still have a nice color thanks to their permanent cosmetics.

I personally am very selective when agreeing to just provide a stand alone lip liner (no shading in to the inner lip tissue.)  If the client has good color inside the lip line, then applying a correspondingly flattering lip line color is just fine and often very appropriate.

However if the full lips are very pale and the client asked me to apply a dark lip liner only, my advise is that this then requires the client to have topical lipstick on at all times in order to avoid the “ring around the mouth” appearance that a dark lip liner on pale lips can give.  Stand alone lip liner colors should be selected to correspond with the rest of the natural lip color.

If the natural full lip color is very nondescript, then possible a stand alone lip liner is not the best lip procedure selection.

A lip shaper is a very popular procedure.  This is a natural lip appearance restoration procedure that you can read about further on the Lip Procedure page of my site.  I believe this procedure to be conservative, but yet one that does the most for those clients who have lost definition and some circulation close to the vermilion of their lips.

Clients who are not good candidates for stand alone lip liners or lip shapers are those who have lost so much definition and color that only a full lip procedure would be appropriate. I favor the lighter more natural pigments that colorize the lips with a healthy glow under all conditions.  I have a wide range of beautiful lip colors but I notice that throughout the years, clients generally favor lip color that causes their lips to appear healthy.  The more vibrant reds, wine colors and orange or coral based preferences are saved for selective occasions and applied topically for temporary use only.

Now you have my opinion on permanent cosmetics, which you may value or you may disagree with depending on your own opinions and makeup artistry preferences.  This information is provided as food for thought, not absolutes.  My clients provide me with examples of what they prefer and must approve all design and color selections before the procedure(s) can proceed.

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