So what’s it like to get permanent makeup? Here goes:
After the initial consultation, you make an appointment to have your permanent makeup applied. Earleen knows you’re probably nervous, especially if you’re a first-timer, so she walks you through the whole process again.
Here’s my experience (eyebrows and eyeliner):
My procedure was done in 2006 at Earleen’s studio inside the Secret Spa at Woodfin Place. (She now works from an office on McDowell Street, and I can’t wait to check out her new digs.) I relaxed in a reclining chair, much like a dentist chair (adjusts to let you lay nearly flat). Earleen applied topical numbing cream to the area she planned to work on first: my eyebrows. She gave the cream a little time to work while she prepped equipment and colors, etc., explaining each step she took. Then she put on her magnifying goggles (trust me–you want her to see lots of detail!) and started the process.
First, Earleen “scratched” through the skin of my eyebrows with a needle to allow easier ink penetration. I could feel the needle scratching me–not comfortable, but certainly bearable. She then began applying the initial ink via high-speed needle–just like a regular tattoo. I’m not going to say it didn’t hurt–it did!* There’s not a lot of padding between your skin and your brow bone. (That’s probably why hand and foot tattoos hurt more than backsides; the difference in “padding.”)
After working on each eyebrow for a while, she applied numbing cream (very carefully!) to my upper and lower eyelash line. (I did not wear my contacts during the procedure; opted for glasses, instead.) Earleen was very gentle and very thorough, and made sure the numbing cream made little or no contact with my eyes. (It doesn’t hurt your eyes, but it can dilate them, which makes them more sensitive to light.) It was nice to have a little break from the tattoo needle drumming into my forehead!
Next, she began applying color to my upper and lower eyelash line. Yes, this means she had a high-speed needle whirring right in my line of vision and drilling into my eyelids, which have even less padding than my eyebrows. Not comfortable at all, but since I was committed to the end product, I endured. Earleen has to tighten and pull the skin around your eyes in order to put the ink where it needs to go, but she’s very confident and gets it done with minimum pulling and tugging (I didn’t feel like I was doomed to saggy Basset hound eyes from her technique). She’s also very careful to examine both sides of your face for symmetry, and she even had me arch each eyebrow so she could stay within the natural arch created when I raise my brows.
By the time Earleen had applied some ink to my upper and lower eyelash line, it was time to re-numb my eyebrows and work on them a little more. She worked back and forth on each area of the makeup so that no one spot became unbearable. Don’t get me wrong–I found it pretty darn painful!–but I trusted Earleen and knew she was working as carefully and efficiently as possible.
Sidebar: For those that fear needles, this might be a difficult procedure to endure. I don’t have much of a problem with needles, but it was still pretty intense. I really appreciated the little breaks in between inkings for more numbing cream and a moment to breathe. I treated this process much like a dental or medical procedure: although I’m paying attention to the practioner’s requests (“turn this way” or “tilt your head”), I’ve pretty much “gone away” from the scene by relaxing and thinking of other things. It reduces the stress I feel and allows the practitioner to do their work without worrying about hurting me.
Next post: The end of the process, the beginning of healing, and some final thoughts on Earleen and her work. I [heart] permanent makeup!
* Some people swear it didn’t hurt to have a tattoo–good for them. Everybody is different, and I won’t say your tattoo must have hurt, but mine sure did. I chose to have it done, however, so I’m not complaining.