• Katie Smith-Mohamed

Brows by Analogy: The Holy Grail!

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

A few recent clients have provided the inspiration for this blog.


Not all permanent makeup artists have consultations with their clients. I am always happy to have one, free of charge, because I want my clients as informed as possible, no matter what treatment they are seeking. Knowledge is power and if you are letting me, with my needles, manipulate your skin either by tattooing or microneedling, lifting your lashes, etc., it is my personal preference that you know everything. This is part to help you make your decision and part me telling you that you were advised, should a concern pop up.


Many permanent makeup artists have consent and waiver forms that are pages and pages long. Many also have addendums to those pages. For example, Mary Ritcherson, Permanent Makeup by Mary and originator of the NanoLines technique (https://permanentmakeupbymary.com), has over a dozen addendums to her forms. One example is for clients who admit to working out heavily, since sweat has salt and will pull out pigment colour. Clients must agree to being advised of this and the hope is they will refrain from heavy sweating while the treated area is healing. This is not a frivolous practice. Those who have been in business for some time have good reason to ensure that every single possible mitigating factor has been addressed and that clients sign acknowledgement of these so as not to hold the artist/technician responsible. My forms are equally detailed, but I am guilty myself of not reading the finer points when I have made up my mind about something and am excited.


I do not have an assistant so it is all on me to make sure everything gets covered. In the absence of a prior consultation, it all must be covered at time of service. I am human. I might forget something. If you as the client are slightly nervous or excited there is a good chance you might not remember everything anyways. And then, there is the problem of ALL THAT PAPER!!!


So, here it is....the description of permanent eyebrows by analogy.


Think of your skin like a cup. A golden challis, a delicate champagne flute, a rare antique teacup--possibly with slight crack lines or chips, a hearty 1970s plastic Tupperware cup, a brand new glass tumbler, a handblown wine glass, or a small shot glass! No, you do not get to choose which is your cup. That cup presents itself to me, on my studio bed and it is everything about the cup before me that guides me in delivering treatment to you. I can assure you that after only 3 years doing this I have not seen every kind of "cup" but I have a growing body of knowledge now where I can make a number of predictions which you may or may NOT want to hear.


All I can say to that is, sorry, it is what it is. If you want beautiful eyebrows, this is the only way you will get them. They will not grow back if you have lost them, they will not likely become thicker though some growth serums are purported to work, they will not go from grey to brown and if you already had them tattooed, they may need some correction.


So if you are following my comparisons you might have noted that when I refer to the hearty Tupperware cup, the brand new drinking glass, or the golden challis, I am referring to skin conditions which are ideal. The skin may be old or young. It may be ideal because of a lifetime of good care or it may be so because of kickass genes! But when I begin working on it and I see my ink going into the skin smoothly without any irritation...I can predict that your brows will come back for the retouch session possibly barely needing anything, or needing only a little boost of colour. After that you are good to go for 2 to 3 years (depending on the treatment you have chosen).


That is not the reality of our business and while those cases are always welcome, if that were all I had coming to me I would not grow as an artist.


Equally often I see the delicate champagne flute or the teacup. If you haven't already advised me I can assess visually or figure it out the moment I begin my work that the skin requires utmost care and a delicate approach. Skin that becomes sensitive or quickly red will reject the ink I am tattooing if I overwork it. This is likely not the case with a conventional tattoo but it is particularly problematic with facial skin, especially the eyebrows. Kind of reminds me of my toddler when I first put a spoonful of pureed squash in her mouth. She swirled it around a bit, let it linger a moment and then, out it came.


Therefore, for skin such as this only a soft, delicate, gentle approach is going to work. No over working, careful after care protocol and the suggestion that we might require a 3rd session together. Why? Because the cup we are filling, needs to be filled methodically or it will not get filled at all. Think of it as a reciprocal arrangement! I take care, you follow after care instructions and your skin will cooperate and we will fill that vessel beautifully.


In the case of the shot glass, well, this is one in which the cup is already too full. If you have sought out permanent makeup for your eyebrows before, whether it is once or 6 times, and you come to me for a "touch up", you will not like what I have to tell you!!


A saturated eyebrow is already dark. Perhaps they have turned an off colour---that is not necessarily your previous artist's fault---it happens for many reasons and is less common nowadays because of advances in pigment formulations. A saturated eyebrow is a cup that is full--you can see them a mile away. Any more ink tattooed to correct requires one of 2 things, but most likely both things: some of that ink may need to be removed, to permit room in the cells for more; or the off coloured ink may need to be neutralized so that a better colour can be tattooed Very often both of these approaches are required and this means you, as the client, will need to be patient in order to get the brows you seek. Going to another artist will do you no good, and it might actually do you harm if that artist does not do, or is not familiar with ink removal and corrections. By comparison I tried the same thing with my dentist because I did not want to get surgery for my receding gums. I cannot tell you now annoyed I was when they all told me the same thing! I still haven't gotten the surgery.


For the record I have done brows that were over saturated, thinking I could cover over them. They were beautiful!!! After 4 weeks, the original dark bluish microbladed strokes remained and NONE of my new colour did. So a lot of this stuff I know from personal experience---mistakes and failures truly are the very best lessons, as long as you are prepared and knowledgeable enough to fix them.


Similarly, I have worked on some skin types only to have the client return for her retouch in 6 weeks with nearly nothing left! This is so frustrating because it is almost like starting from scratch. But what this tells me is that I will most likely need to see that lady a third time or change up my technique completely. While that might sound like more inconvenience than it is worth, please consider the alternative----that you may have gotten far over-saturated, extremely dark brows that were tattooed too deep in the skin. This is not acceptable and since I do corrections and removal and see this more than I want to, it upsets me deeply that it occurs at all because it harms the integrity of an industry that really does help people.


Artists who have been at this for decades may even turn a client away if a third session is required, because many of them are already booked months, even over a year.


So in essence what I want to share most of all is that there are plenty of "ideal" clients who come for session one and all goes well, and return for session two for a bit of a colour boost and off they go and I don't see them for a long time.


There are also many clients whose skin has had a lot of sun over the years and/or is sensitive and reacts quickly to any manipulation---and this may be for many reasons such as medications, supplements, body chemistry, an unknown condition, and skin condition. The red headed gene presents issues for me, but I have persisted with the clients willing to forge on and have enjoyed success. I believe I have a Google review that speaks exactly to this.


What you can never do is compare your facial tattoo with a body one. The skin of the body is vastly different. You also may already know about your own skin sensitivity or you may not....and the issue presents itself quite specifically at that area of the face with the act of tattooing (and wiping, and the use of topical anesthetic). I know you will tell me all I need to know on my consent forms, but occasionally things emerge you did not know about. That is all okay....I adjust the plan. Not telling your artist something to avoid being declined service or any required preparation ahead of service, including getting medical consent, places us both in precarious positions. This, too, has happened to me and I was deeply disappointed.


When you select an artist who understands this both from experience as well as extensive training you will know by the way they speak to you. You will hear the confidence and knowledge in their voice. Moreover, if that same artist is presented with a new situation, they will not begin treatment until they have consulted with colleagues. Case in point...in Sault Ste. Marie (Canada) we do not have the same demographic as an artist in Miami. This morning I messaged my friend and artist Rose Perez Prieto (http://www.beautyandbrowlounge.com), author of the book How Fitzpatrick and Melanin Influence the Cosmetic Tattoo (available on Amazon). She has worked with clients with all skin types and tones. When an artist discusses the Fitzpatrick scale, they refer to the amount of melanin in the skin. The scale ranges from Fitzpatrick 1, the palest skin most likely to burn in the sun to a Fitzpatrick 6, the darkest skin which is least likely to burn in the sun. If a client with Fitzpatrick 6 skin were to call me tomorrow and ask for eyebrows, having never worked on this skin colour, I WOULD MOST CERTAINLY GET MYSELF PREPARED BEFORE TAKING ON THE CLIENT.


Additionally a good artist knows when to turn a client away. We will never do anything that could compromise your health. We will not proceed if your expectations are beyond what we can realistically predict---emphasize, PREDICT, not promise. If your lifestyle, medications, health have the potential to impede the results we aim for, you must be advised.


Permanent Makeup is an industry in which art and science must come together---often it is a successful marriage, occasionally the two collide. It is a human industry and every single one of us has your best interests at heart. We also have the future of our businesses to think of.


The purpose of this blog is to inform clients that you must answer your artists' questions honestly and you must, in turn, be informed. This is NOT YOUR REGULAR TATTOO. Indeed, as your brows, eyeliner or lips heal you will notice them fade and even at one point seem to disappear! All of this will be explained to you.....make sure you pay attention. If your treatment fades more than you hoped, this also will have been explained to you. Permanent makeup is a PROCESS not an EVENT. It transforms lives and is really worth the effort and the patience.


The Holy Grail is found and the cup is filled when the client is happy, the artist has proceeded based on a precise plan and the results are beautiful.


Consultations are your friend. Book a consultation and let's get all of these important details talked about.


Taking care of you....Katie Mohamed, Dermal Enhancements










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