• Katie Smith-Mohamed

Permanent Makeup or Semi-Permanent Makeup???

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about permanent makeup. If you research 10 permanent makeup artist sites, probably five will term what they do as permanent makeup and the other five will term it semi-permanent makeup. This blog will explain the misconception and set the record straight.


Firstly, I am a member of the Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals. I am one of only 9 artists in Canada listed on this organization's directory. The SPCP is dedicated to permanent makeup artists and services to promote high standards for this industry while ensuring that the public is accurately informed about what permanent makeup really is. The SPCP demands that all member permanent makeup artists have a minimum 100 hours of training under their belts and it also demands that all member permanent makeup artists adhere to strict guidelines in their promotion, advertising, marketing and social media information.


One thing the SPCP does not permit is for any permanent makeup artist to refer to what they do as semi-permanent makeup. When someone applies for membership, the permanent makeup artist's website and social media accounts get checked over for accuracy. If information refers to the permanent makeup artist's work as semi-permanent, they must change it.


Here is the reason: When a hand tool (such as a microblade or microshader), tattoo or permanent makeup machine is used to implant pigment into the skin to create or enhance brows, add eyeliner or boost lip colour, the pigment particles come to rest in the upper layer of the dermis (known as the dermal-epidermal junction, or, more accurately the papillary layer) and pigment or ink particles will remain there permanently. What is causing the majority of the misconception is that the colour of your permanent makeup treatment will fade over time. In fact, in some cases, it will fade completely and appears as though there is nothing left. However, there still are pigment particles in your skin, they just aren't visible to the naked eye anymore. This is why some permanent makeup artists refer to their work as semi-permanent makeup. But it is misleading and scientifically incorrect, so a responsible artist ensures that clients are informed.


The reasons that permanent makeup fades are varied and many. The face is a very different canvas for the purposes of tattooing (permanent makeup) than other parts of the body. Your face has more blood vessels, nerve endings, and sebaceous glands (oil producing glands) than other parts of the body. Moreover, it is the one place on the body we begin to see signs of aging first. It is home to various tissue types and thicknesses (the lip tissue is not the same as the skin around it, eyelids are very thin and vascular, brow area a bit thicker than the area around the orbital bone etc.) The face is the one part of your body which is always exposed to UV rays, pollution and free radicals. It is also the part of your body most likely to have a host of skin care products applied to it over your life time and many of those products have either some nasty ingredients or they are intended to expedite the cellular regeneration process, thus helping with things like dry skin and fine lines. These things, along with health conditions, known and unknown, a variety of supplements, medications, skin rejuvenation treatments and the like can exacerbate the fading of a permanent makeup technique.


If you have ever had permanent makeup you know that it is at minimum a 2 treatment process. Between treatments your permanent makeup procedure will fade and so your permanent makeup artist will do a perfection session 6 to 8 weeks later. You will never have the bold dark brows you leave the studio with. Fading will always happen. However, how well you take care of your treated area, will dictate the longevity of your beautiful treatment. At any rate, if, after 2 years, you have, for example, no brow colour left...it does not mean that pigment particles have left. Some do get washed out by the body over time, but some will always remain....they just have faded and are no longer visible.


One of the things you will find if you have had a permanent makeup technique is that the brows are the one treatment that tend to fade more than an eyeliner or lips. Part of the reason is the colour used. Another reason is the type of ink used by the artist...this will be the subject of another blog. Shades of brown will fade faster due to their composition. Many clients enjoy decades of an eyeliner or lip tattoo treatment, while need to have their brows retouched more often.


So I hope this clarifies permanent makeup and semi-permanent makeup. The artist who reports what they do as semi-permanent isn't being accurate; however, it is understandable that they do this, because people do see full fading and without going into a scientific explanation, it may seem easier to call it semi-permanent. In my studio, you will always get the full story. It is my responsibility to you as my client, as well as to my professional organization, the Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals, my insurance and my health unit. With my explanation, you will be required to sign an acknowledgement that you understand the differences between permanent makeup and semi-permanent makeup.


The only semi-permanent makeup that I do is henna brow sculpting and lash lift and tint. But the "semi" is really 3 weeks to a month and no more. Everything else is a facial tattoo designed to give you the brows you have dreamed of, the eyeliner you no longer want to apply, or the lip colour you want to enhance your own natural beauty.


Enhancing your own natural features, beautifully,


Katie Mohamed












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