Permanent Cosmetics (aka PMU for Permanent Make Up) is a broad umbrella term for cosmetic tattooing that can range from eyebrows, to scalp micropigmentation for hair loss, to hyper-realistic 3D nipple restoration for breast cancer survivors.
PMU gained popularity in the US during the 1960's, but it kind of got a bad rap. In those days, PMU artists were piggy-backing on the tattoo industry and the quality of available pigments, etc weren't anything like what we have today. Often, the only colors available were light black or dark black (which inevitably faded to blue or green), and many times looked harsh. (Think Cruella DeVille or Angry Birds LoL) Plus, having learned their trade in a tattoo shop, pigment was often placed too deep and caused scarring. Fast forward 50 years and it's a whole new ballgame! PMU is a huge industry all on it's own with specialized education, pigments, and tools. You no longer have to choose between a natural look and convenience- you can have permanent brows that look beautifully natural- there have never been so many choices!
What makes PMU different from regular tattooing?And is it really permanent?
Interestingly, since I'm licensed and work in 2 states I feel that I have a unique perspective. Missouri and Oklahoma are on 2 opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to regulating Permanent Cosmetics... In Oklahoma, PMU is termed Medical Micropigmentation and applies to any procedure (from the neck up) whereby pigment is implanted into the skin for cosmetic enhancement. Even though it's essentially the same process as traditional tattooing, Medical Micropigmentation must be performed under medical supervision. Sometimes I'm asked why I'm located in a dental office- it's because the state requires medical oversight. However, in Missouri medical oversight is not required and microblading isn't regulated at all. Things that make you go "Hmmm", right?
Despite differences in the legal issues surrounding PMU, the basic difference between PMU and traditional body tattooing boils down to this... because the skin on the face isn't as thick as elsewhere on the body, PMU pigments aren't placed as deep in the skin. Facial skin also has a much faster rate of cellular turnover than elsewhere so, combined with the more shallow placement- this means that it actually ISN'T permanent, but depending on technique will generally last several years.
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There are several options for brows ranging from semi-permanent to permanent. Deciding which is the best for you can be daunting, but I'm happy to help!
The picture to the left illustrates some common brow styles. From the top:
What exactly is Microblading??
Microblading is a form of tattooing. However, instead of using a machine with automated needles, we use a “blade” made of several aligned needles which you can see if you look closely at the top left picture. It looks something like an Exacto knife, but not scary! The needles are dipped into pigment and pulled across the skin to produce the fine, hairlike strokes that microblading is known for.
What's the procedure like?
First of all… we take a before photo for reference and, if you agree to allow it, to post on social media and/or on our website. Next we draw in your brow shape andmake sure you are comfortable with the placement, thickness, etc before we move on with the procedure. The pigment is hand-mixed to ensure that it matches your hair and undertones for a truly bespoke brow. At this point we apply a strong topical numbing agent to keep you comfortable. During the numbing period (about 30 minutes) we have plenty of time to go over the aftercare instructions and answer any questions that you may have before the procedure actually begins.
Most clients don’t feel a thing, but even if they do it’s very minimal. We generally do 2-3 passes total. If you need more numbing product during the subsequent passes, all you have to do is ask. We want to keep you as comfortable as possible! After we are satisfied with how the brows look, we take some after pics, we schedule your Perfecting Session in 4-6 weeks, and you are sent home with everything you need to care for your new brows!
Before your appointment:
If you are seriously considering having your brows microbladed, there are a few things you should consider before making your appointment:
After your appointment:
You'll be given a kit that contains everything you need to take care of your brows. Aftercare is relatively simple.
The day of your procedure you'll wipe your brows with sterile cotton moistened with water and apply a thin layer of Aquaphor ointment. (All of these items are included in your kit) You'll do this every 2 hours for the first day.
After the first day, you only need to cleanse your brows and apply Aquaphor twice a day. The Aquaphor serves 2 purposes (1) forms a barrier against dust, debris, makeup, etc. and (2) keeps the area moist and prevents scabbing.
During the healing process, there are things that you'll need to avoid:
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How many of us hate doing eyeliner because you
Permanent Eyeliner can solve all of that! Whether you want very minimal Lash Enhancement or a bold wing- let's make it happen!
Does it hurt?
No. We use a numbing cream (safe for use around the eyes) before we get started and we add more numbing as we go. Your discomfort is very minimal. There is generally very little swelling. Some people are hard to numb, but generally they know that beforehand and we can adapt to make them as comfortable as possible!
I love doing lips! It can be soft and add just a fresh wash of color to the lips, or dramatic to be truly maintenance free. Just add gloss!
We can correct asymmetrical lips, correct coloration issues, or add fullness. Get ready to fall in love with your pout!
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Oklahoma regulations are strict y'all! When I moved from Missouri I assumed that my certifications and licensing would transfer equally, but I was very wrong. I needed to complete 300 hours of training (essentially starting over!) AND I would not be able to work as an independent practitioner as I have always done- I had to find a medical or dental office that would allow me to rent space and agree to provide medical oversight. I almost didn't do it! Even after I enrolled in a training program, I was still pretty salty about it. But, I have to admit that, after completing my program, obtaining my state license, and working in Oklahoma City for a year, I am very much in favor of higher regulations. I'm a better and safer Medical Micropigmentologist then I was before and that means that I bring a better product to you.
When training for Oklahoma licensure, I was appalled to learn that Oklahoma is inundated with "practitioners" that are operating outside the law. Most simply don't want to spend the money and time it takes to be properly trained and licensed to meet Oklahoma standards. Instead of spending $15,000 and 6-9 months to meet Oklahoma requirements, they'll go to an out-of-state workshop and take a 3-4 day (yes DAYS) training course for $3500 with a fancy looking certificate. Or, even worse, just watch Youtube videos and order supplies from Amazon. Shocked yet?
I'm not kidding- this happens all the time! How do I know? Because that was legal in Missouri and that's how I got started. I took a 3 day class and came home all excited! ...and started practicing on latex and anyone who was willing to let me try working on their face.*
While from a consumer standpoint this is horrifying- it's also unfair to those of us that take our education and licensing seriously! However, the bigger issue is YOUR SAFETY!
* Missouri separates Microblading from Permanent Cosmetics on the basis of one being performed with a manual hand tool and the other with a machine. Microblading is not regulated and subsequently no licensing is required. Because the state didn't require licensing I could purchase insurance without proving any type of credentials-which I did! The increased risk of claims from untrained or "under trained" individuals was much higher so insurance rates there are much higher than in Oklahoma! Yet another reason that most didn't carry it.
Problem #1 The state requires certification and licensing, so anyone who is practicing without the proper credentials cannot purchase liability insurance. So, if the procedure goes wrong, you are completely on your own.
Problem #2 The state of Oklahoma requires Permanent Cosmetics to be done under medical supervision. The physician doesn't have to be present for your appointment, but the practitioner must be located inside a Physician (MD) or Dentist's (DMD) office.
If someone is practicing in a hair salon, nail shop, or out of their spare bedroom they are practicing illegally and putting YOU at risk because they are unlicensed and uninsured. The price may be cheaper because they didn't pay $$$ for education and they aren't paying for insurance. You might assume they are a professional because they've represented themselves as such... they show you some pictures (which are often stolen from someone else's social media account) and they seem like they know what they're talking about, but in reality all of the risk is on you.
These things can come back to haunt you like a true nightmare! Take the time to ask questions, even if it feels awkward! Removal is a long, painful process and not always 100% successful. Even if you don't book with me, do your homework! A properly licensed and insured PMU artist will be happy to show you their credentials and proof of insurance.