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Semi-permanent makeup: why it might be right for you

Always in a rush? Semi-permanent makeup could be a morning routine game changer…

semi permanent makeup
Orin Carlin
Orin CarlinContent Writer
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If you removed makeup application from your morning routine, how many extra minutes would you be able to steal under the covers? Rolling out of bed and dashing out the door sans an ill-fated eyeliner incident is becoming a handy reality for many.

But it is not merely the timesaving aspect of semi-permanent makeup that has piqued our collective beauty interest. Techniques and formulas have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, meaning that a natural finish is absolutely within reach. 

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What is semi-permanent makeup?

Makeup© Photo: Getty Images

Semi-permanent makeup, or micropigmentation as it is otherwise known, is a form of tattooing. The process involves depositing pigment into the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) using a dedicated cosmetic tattooing device. Essentially, it allows you to you to sport a fully 'done' face – with no makeup products necessary.

Normal tattoos deposit ink into the dermis, meaning that the effect of semi-permanent makeup, as the name would suggest, will not last forever. The epidermis is constantly shedding skin cells, and the pigment will fade over time.

A reputable semi-makeup artist will have an excellent knowledge of colour theory and facial structure so that they are able to achieve a natural-looking finish.

Who is semi-permanent makeup for?  

If you are unsatisfied by your makeup application skills or constantly strapped for time in the morning, semi-permanent makeup could be a beauty game changer. 

"I've got lawyers and barristers, people who are really busy, who started off just coming to me for eyebrows because they haven't got time to pencil them in everyday before they go to work," explains semi-makeup pioneer Debra Robson. "They've come back and had the whole lot done because it's so convenient – you're talking about a lick of mascara and a dash of lip gloss and you're gone!"

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But the treatment could also be suitable for those with visual impairments or those who lack natural hair in a particular area. "I have young people with macular degeneration who come for their brows, eyes and lips – those with a medical reason as to why they can't see to pencil them in," Debra says. "And then I've got people who've overplucked their eyebrows in their teens, guys with alopecia, people who've had accidents."

How long does semi-permanent makeup last? 

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer here. From skin quality and sensitivity to lifestyle and health, there are so many different determinants. For instance, if you are a fan of acid peels or have an autoimmune disorder, both these factors can effect the longevity. 

Generally, darker colours have a tendency to last longer, whereas natural or lighter colours are more susceptible to the effects of UV rays and pigment removal by the body's immune system.


Semi Permanent Makeup Eyes© Photo: Getty Images

What is permanent eyeliner?

"Just like with conventional eyeliner, there are lots of different styles of permanent eyeliner," says semi-permanent makeup specialist Tracie Giles. "From a subtle lash enhancer, to a more dramatic liquid-look liner, to a beautiful smokey whipshaded eyeliner. All of these techniques are achieved using a digital tattooing machine, which uses an electronically powered handpiece and needle to implant pigment into the skin."

What are the benefits of permanent eyeliner?

"Achieving the perfect eyeliner with conventional makeup is almost impossible," Tracie explains. "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, you can wake up every day with expertly applied eyeliner that enhances your eyes, is perfectly symmetrical, creates the illusion of fuller lashes and is designed in a shape and style that complements your natural features – saving you time and energy."


Semi Permanent Makeup Lips© Photo: Getty Images

What is lip tattooing? 

Seeking the perfect pout? Tracie's Knightsbridge clinic also offers services for people wanting to add some long-lasting colour onto their lips. "For lip tattooing or 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," she says.

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What are the benefits of lip tattooing? 

"Lip blushing creates a full blush of colour across the lips – essentially a permanent lipstick in the perfect shade designed just for you," Tracie says. "Perfect lipstick all day, every day, without the hassle of reapplying conventional lipstick is a major benefit. But that's not all, it also adds definition, creates the illusion of volume and can also be used to correct any asymmetry or pigmentation in the lips and to disguise scarring – for example scarring caused by cleft lip surgery."


Semi Permanent Makeup Brows© Photo: Getty Images

What are semi-permanent brows?

There are heaps of treatments to choose from to enhance the natural brow and make your arches appear fuller and more defined if necessary. Celerity brow artist Sarah Amelia Fogg's favourite is ombré brows - technique that uses tiny dots of pigment to give off a soft, pencilled effect. 

"For this, I use a hand-held digital machine and I airbrush pigment into the skin, softer towards the bulb of the brow and stronger towards the tails to create the ombré effect," she says. "This will frame your face perfectly and the right set of brows will set off every single feature on your face."

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What are the benefits of semi-permanent brows?

The "sisters, not twins" adage will be confined to your beauty past with semi-permanent brows. When performed by a reputable artist, the treatment will deliver perfect precision - ideal if uniformity tends to be an issue when you apply your makeup. Improved shape, added definition and the illusion of hair in areas where you may be lacking natural growth are a few of the main benefits. 


Semi Permanent Makeup Skin© Photo: Getty Images

What is permanent concealer? 

This treatment follows a very similar process to other semi-permanent makeup treatments. Using a needle tool, ink pigment matching your skin tone is inserted under the skin into the epidermis where it settles.

It is generally used for reducing the appearance of dark under-eye circles, but there are few key factors to consider before you dive straight in. A word of warning: opinions on this treatment vary among different beauty professionals. The pigment remains the same colour, but your skin tone naturally fluctuates over time.

"The colour of your skin will change at different times of the year depending on how well you tan, so the pigment used may not match your skin if it goes any lighter or darker," Sarah explains.

"With this in mind, you may prefer traditional makeup concealer as you can change the shade you’re using as your skin changes. If you’re looking for this kind of treatment for covering up scars, scar camouflage is slightly different and done with a dry needle to insert concealer into scars which is great for covering stretch marks and any other kind of scarring."

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