AURI REYNOSO, a hairstylist in Englewood, N.J., says she wished to roll away from bed “looking beautiful.” So 3 years ago, she asked Melany Whitney, a qualified permanent-cosmetics professional located in The Big Apple, New Jersey and Florida, to tattoo eyeliner and defined brows onto her face.
Though the procedure was “a little uncomfortable,” said Ms. Reynoso, now 39, she was delighted together with the results. “Everything for beauty,” she said. “It’s amazing how you can get out of bed looking absolutely fabulous and prepare in five minutes. I just apply blush, lip gloss and mascara and I’m done.”
Permanent makeup, also called micropigmentation or cosmetic tattooing, goes back for the early 1980s, in the event it was designed to deal with alopecia, a disorder that causes hair loss (including eyebrows). Since then, the field has expanded to include burn victims and cancer survivors, patients with arthritis and Parkinson’s disease that have difficulty putting on makeup and individuals like Ms. Reynoso, who would simply rather limit how much time spent looking at a mirror.
But although many are thrilled with their outcomes, all is not really rosy in the world of needles and ink. The term “permanent” can be a misnomer for the reason that color fades as time passes. Some patients develop granulomas, keloids, scars and blisters, and so they report burning sensations after they undergo an M.R.I.
What’s more, even though the inks utilized in permanent make up eyeliner and the pigments within these inks are subject to the scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration, regulations for practitioners (electrologists, cosmetologists, doctors, nurses and tattoo artists) vary by state. “You can go on eBay and purchase machines and pigment and go in the garage and set up up shop,” said Dr. Charles Zwerling, an ophthalmologist in Goldsboro, N.C., as well as an author from the forthcoming book “Micropigmentation Millennium.” He founded the American Academy of Micropigmentation, a nonprofit professional organization which offers certification for practitioners, in 1992.
“We see 1000s of faces being destroyed by individuals who don’t get trained properly, and that’s the biggest symptom in permanent cosmetics,” said John Hashey, the dog owner of John Hashey’s Advanced School of Permanent Cosmetics in Oldsmar, Fla. Mr. Hashey stated that 90 percent of his industry is fixing mistakes. “Your average cosmetologist who cuts hair has got to do 1,200 to 1,500 hours just to do that,” he explained. “How is that any further important than having a needle to someone’s eye?”
The adverse reactions to micropigmentation include infections like H.I.V., hepatitis, staph and strep from dirty needles, and allergic reactions towards the permanent dyes, said Dr. Jessica J. Krant, a dermatologist in Manhattan and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology in the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Ny.
A report with this month’s issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases reported an outbreak of mycobacterium haemophilum, a nontuberculous mycobacterium which causes skin, joint, bone and pulmonary infections, after permanent makeup was put on patients’ brows. An investigation last September in Contact Dermatitis, a medical journal, investigated severe adverse reactions like swelling, burning, and the introduction of papules in four patients who had had at the very least two permanent-makeup procedures on the lips. “In light of the severe and often therapy-resistant skin reactions, we strongly suggest the regulation and charge of the substances” utilized in the colorants, the authors wrote.
Nancy Erfan, an agent in Monterey, Calif., enjoyed a bad experience. In November 2003, Ms. Erfan, now in their 30s, had permanent color put on her lips and eyes. The technician told her she will be swollen for several days, and gave her a cream to help you. Although the swelling worsened, Ms. Erfan said, and very soon she had “big bumps” around her eyes and lips.
“I could barely open my mouth to enjoy or speak,” she said. She visited a number of dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons, but found no remedy. “They said I used to be obviously having a hypersensitive reaction, nonetheless they didn’t know where to start.”
It turned out how the colors used at one of the dyes by Premier Pigments, a manufacturer, was tainted; after the F.D.A. received greater than 150 complaints, the corporation eventually recalled the entire line.
Finally Ms. Erfan found Dr. Mitchel Goldman, a dermatologist in San Diego, Ca who focuses on laser removing of tattoos. He did six treatments more than a year, to get a total around $10,000, which insurance did not cover. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine helped with facial pain and swelling, she said. Dr. Goldman want greater F.D.A. supervision of permanent makeup. “I’ve had patients who have infections on the lips and eyebrows because these tattoo artists are eye1iner not regulated,” he explained. “They use equipment that’s not sterile. A lot of infections also come from the plain tap water. They dip their needles in and transfer infections. The pigment will go to lymph nodes. That knows if twenty years down the road patients will have lymphoma or cancer because of these carcinogens in tattoo pigment?”
Elizabeth Finch-Howell, the homeowner and founder of Derma International, a permanent cosmetics manufacturer in Kempton, Pa., believes no less than 100 hours is enough. (She got a tattoo that matched her complexion to pay up a port-wine colored birthmark on 1 / 2 of her face, performing the method herself because “I didn’t trust other people,” she said.)
Regarding Ms. Erfan, she actually is still angry, years later. It took her more than a year plus a half to recover, she said, and she continues to have scars in her lips. She must wear makeup to protect the scars and white lines above her mouth, as well as the facial pain persists. “Applying makeup is something, but injecting it to your body? I feel stupid,” she said. “But everything I check out permanent makeup was positive, how even Cleopatra was tattooing her eye liner and lip liner. I think it is safe.”