Permanent makeup is a cosmetic technique which employs tattoos (permanent pigmentation of the skin) as a means of producing designs that resemble makeup, such as eye lining and other permanent enhancing colors to the skin of the face, lips, and eyelids. It is also used to produce artificial eyebrows, particularly in people who have lost them as a consequence of old age, disease, such as alopecia, chemotherapy, or a genetic disturbance, and to disguise scars and white spots in the skin such as in vitiligo.
Permanent makeup results in enhanced definition of the facial features such as eyebrows, eyes and lips by the use of colors. Results can imitate topically applied cosmetics or can be quite unnoticeable, depending upon the design, color value and amount of pigment used. At first, permanent makeup results may look somewhat harsh. This is due to color remaining in the outermost epidermal layers of skin at the start. Color softens within a few days during the healing process as the upper layers of epidermis slough off and are replaced by new epidermal cells.
The best possible color results can perform for many years or may begin to fade over time. The longevity varies from person to person. While permanent makeup pigment remains in the dermis its beauty-span may be influenced by several factors: environmental, procedural and/or individual. Sun exposure fades color. The amount and color of pigment deposit at the dermal level can affect the length of time that permanent makeup looks its best. Very natural looking applications are likely to require a touch-up before more dramatic ones for this reason. Individual influences include lifestyles that find an individual in the sun regularly such as with gardening or swimming. Skin tones are a factor in color value changes over time.
As with tattoos, permanent makeup can be difficult to remove. Common techniques used for this are laser resurfacing, dermabrasion (physical or chemical exfoliation), and surgical removal.
Camouflaging—adding a new pigment which counteracts the tattoo color and attempts to emulate normal skin color is considered a poor choice by professionals. Removal is usually more painful and laborious than the tattooing itself.