The ultimate guide to permanent make-up

Read this before booking in 👍

by Emma Hawkins |
Updated on

Imagine waking up with make-up so flawless, you could just skip the getting-ready rush and leave the house looking perfectly put-together. A girl can dream, eh? Well thanks to permanent make-up, it's actually an option these days.

For those who aren't aware, permanent make-up is a form of cosmetic tattooing that can be used to fill in over-plucked brows, tint lips, create faux freckles as well as create beauty spots or the perfect winged liner, all using a digital device (or a handheld blade for microblading). Also often referred to as semi-permanent make-up or micro-pigmentation, despite coming under the "tattooing" category, the results look surprisingly natural. And it's painless!

As well as for aesthetics alone, permanent make-up can be used for medical tattooing – from covering up scarring after surgery to creating realistic-looking areolas and nipples following breast reconstruction. Not to mention, it can be used to tattoo fake hair strokes on the scalp and brows for those suffering from hair loss conditions like alopecia.

So, how does it work? And how long does it take? To answer all of your burning questions, we reached out to Tracie Giles, founder of Tracie Giles London – an award-winning clinic that specialises in permanent make-up, with a star-studded client list including TOWIE's Gemma Collins, Vogue Williams, Love Island's Olivia Bowen and Geordie Shore's Marnie Simpson.

How long does it last?

"As a general rule, results usually last two to three years and can be maintained with regular retouches – but this depends on each individual client and is determined by lots of factors including the lifestyle of the client and the technique and pigments used by the artist," Tracie explains.

"This is often why some artists use the term ‘semi-permanent’ instead of ‘permanent’. They are two interchangeable terms used to describe the same cosmetic tattooing treatments." Tracie Giles London offers discounted annual retouches for clients who want to keep their colour fresh.

Is it safe?

Whilst it's always important to do your research beforehand, to prevent any complications, and ensure you're not allergic to the ink, it's a completely safe procedure when performed by experienced, skilled artists. "It's even recommended by medical professionals for individuals suffering from conditions such as alopecia". That being said, don't just book in with anyone – check they're fully licensed first and check out their previous work on social media to be extra safe.

The Techniques

Lip Blushing

What is it: "For lip blushing, we use a digital tattooing machine and needle, similar to a conventional tattoo machine but much less aggressive, to tattoo a beautiful, borderless blush of colour across the lips, correcting the shape and adding fullness, volume and definition."

Benefits: "Lip blushing creates a full blush of colour across the lips – essentially a permanent lipstick in the perfect shade designed just for you. Perfect lipstick all day every day without the hassle of reapplying conventional lipstick is a major benefit for clients, but it isn’t the only one. Lip Blushing adds definition, creates the illusion of volume and can also be used to correct any asymmetry or pigmentation in the lips and to disguise cleft lip surgery scarring."


What is it: "Microblading and digital tattooing are the two main permanent brow treatments and are essentially just different methods of implanting pigment in the skin," Tracie tells us. "Microblading uses a small handheld blade, whereas digital tattooing uses an electrically powered hand-piece and needle, more like conventional tattooing."

"There are lots of different styles of permanent brows – from incredibly natural hair stroke brows to defined ombré and powder brows, to the latest in eyebrow tattooing – hyper-realism brows, which is only available at a handful of clinics worldwide, including Tracie Giles London."

Benefits: "With semi-permanent brows, you have expertly-applied brows that stay perfect 24/7 without the hassle of having to apply conventional eyebrow makeup every day. The convenience and time-saving benefits to permanent makeup are enough to encourage hundreds of clients through our doors every month – but eyebrow tattooing also has the ability to totally transform your appearance."

"When performed by an expert artist a new brow shape can be created that is tailored to and enhances the client’s unique facial features. The treatment can be used to create the illusion of fuller brows – whether the client has lots of natural eyebrow hair or none at all. It can also be used to lift the brows, which can be powerfully anti-ageing."

Permanent eyeliner

What is it: "Just like with conventional eyeliner, there are lots of different styles of permanent eyeliner – from a subtle lash enhancer to a more dramatic liquid look liner, to a beautiful smokey whip-shaded eyeliner. All of these techniques are achieved using a digital tattooing machine, which uses an electronically powered hand-piece and needle to implant pigment into the skin."

Benefits: "Achieving the perfect eyeliner with conventional makeup is almost impossible – clients need to understand and be able to achieve the correct shape and style for their eyes and to be able to draw perfectly symmetrical eyeliner every time. With Permanent Eyeliner clients wake up every day with expertly applied eyeliner that enhances their eyes, is perfectly symmetrical, creates the illusion of fuller lashes and is designed in a shape and style that complements their natural features – saving them time and energy."

You should know that permanent make-up isn't cheap – most treatments start from £500 upwards, with touch-ups costing much less. However, it is a worthy investment, as not only will it save you the time and hassle of applying make-up each day, but it means you won't need to buy as many products. If you're still not sure – or you need a temporary fix while saving, try a brow tint and lamination – you'll be surprised how much better your brows will look.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us