Expert Doctor

Medical Permanent Makeup and Microblading

Medical permanent makeup is a cosmetic procedure that implants pigments into a patient’s skin. Medical permanent makeup, also known as micropigmentation or cosmetic tattooing, mimics the look of eyeliner, eyeshadow, eyebrow pencil, lip liner and/or lipstick. Patients who have difficulty with applying their own makeup, due to age or arthritis, as well as women with allergies to traditional cosmetics tend to find the solution they are looking for with medical permanent makeup. Patients trying to camouflage certain conditions, such as hair loss on their eyebrows, can also benefit from permanent makeup.  Microblading is a semi-permanent tattooing technique that uses ink applied by hand with a manual device to create hair-like strokes to fill-in eyebrows that are thin or sparse. The ink will be absorbed by the body, faster than with other methods, so follow-up treatments will be necessary more often to maintain the appearance of the brows.

Am I a Good Candidate for Medical Permanent Makeup or Microblading?

A GOOD CANDIDATE for medical permanent makeup and microblading includes:

  • Any patient who wants to save time in the morning as well as swim or shower without reapplying makeup
  • Those who are bothered by makeup that runs or smears
  • Women with thin or crooked lips who desire permanent lip liner and color
  • Patients with undefined facial features
  • Men or women who wish to camouflage scars
  • Patients who have lost eyebrows or eyelashes due to medical conditions, such as chemotherapy, or some form of trauma

The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for medical permanent makeup:

  • A patient who may want to change the style and/or shape of their makeup
  • Patients who do not want to have touch-up treatments
  • Patients with unrealistic expectations about what these treatments can do

How is Medical Permanent Makeup or Microblading Performed?

Medical permanent makeup and microblading can both be performed by a cosmetic tattoo specialist. The process takes between 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the extent of the tattooing. Prior to the procedure, the specialist will use a local anesthetic to numb the treatment area and do makeup designing such as drawing or outlining the eyebrows.

During medical permanent makeup, organic or inorganic pigments are injected into the skin using a hand tool, a coil machine or a digital machine. All 3 methods can create a natural look. Hand tools create a soft look that fades more quickly. Coil machines have parts that require disinfecting and sterilization so they must be inspected on a regular basis. Therefore, many tattoo artists don’t use them any longer. A digital machine uses pre-sterilized needles or cartridges and provides precision and safety. After a medical permanent makeup procedure, the colors will appear more vivid at first but they will fade as all tattoos do. Therefore, patients need one or two touch-up procedures to gain the best possible outcome. Touch-up treatments typically take less time than the initial treatment.

During a microblading procedure, pigment is implanted under the skin through the use of a handheld tool that is operated manually. Hair-like strokes are drawn to mimic the appearance of natural hair in the brows. Microblading is considered to be a tattoo treatment due to the fact that pigment is implanted under the skin.

What are the Costs of Medical Permanent Makeup and Microblading?

The cost of medical permanent makeup depends on the type of makeup, the amount of tattooing performed and the experience of the specialist. The cost for a single procedure, performed by a certified and experienced professional, averages anywhere from $350-$1200. Touch-up treatments may be needed within the first year but they are usually included with the initial price.

The cost of microblading is $500-$1400. The patient will need follow-up treatments but the cost of these treatments is often included in a package deal.

Recovery and Downtime

RECOVERY from medical permanent makeup and microblading depends on the area, or areas, being treated. Eyebrow swelling is mild and may be hardly noticeable. Patients who get permanent eyeliner will have a moderate amount of swelling in the eye area. Permanent lip liner or lipstick will create severe swelling in the lip area. The tattoo specialist may recommend Arnica Montana or Bromelain to help reduce the swelling. Cool packs can be used for discomfort and to reduce swelling but ice packs are not recommended.

The treated area will heal similar to a scratch or a wound that is skin-deep. It may appear slightly red or pink and can ooze or bleed a little. It will scab and heal in a similar time frame. Patients should not pick at a scab but allow it to flake off on its own. Patients should keep the area moist with an ointment at all times during healing. Slight itching is common but this is typically due to the ointment and/or healing. The brow or eye area can take 5-7 days to heal and the lips can take 7 to 10 days.

Patients should enjoy some DOWNTIME from strenuous activities during the first two days since this will cause increased blood pressure and result in additional swelling. Patients should also avoid swimming, saunas, hot tubs, tanning beds and direct sunlight during the healing process.


The results of microblading can be seen right away. The brows might look slightly darker at first but the color will eventually fade by 30-40%. The final results should appear after about 2 months. Patients can have a touch-up treatment after 6 months since the body will absorb the ink but some patients may need it as soon as 3 months. In general, the final results can last for up to one year.

The results of medical permanent makeup can be seen after most of the swelling has gone down. The color looks darker at first then it lightens by 10-30%. The final results can take a month to become visible since it takes that long for some colors to settle. Many patients have a touch-up treatment after 1 to 3 months, post-procedure, since the colors will continue to soften over the first year and some areas become too light. Medical permanent makeup cannot be washed off but the pigment can fade over time. In general, it lasts longer then microblading and it takes about 2-3 years before a color maintenance appointment is needed. To maintain longer lasting results, patients should avoid using anti-aging products or services that contain acids, lighteners or exfoliates on the pigmented areas since these can cause premature fading. Using sunblock whenever going outside, or lip balms with sunscreen protection, can help to maintain the color longer.

Limitations of Medical Permanent Makeup and Microblading

The limitations involved with medical permanent makeup and microblading include:

  • A difference in the color of the pigment from the natural skin tone
  • The expense of continued touch-up treatments
  • Color changes regarding eyeshadow and lipstick
  • Medical permanent makeup is not easily removed and removing it can be very costly as well as a painful and slow process
  • The two eyebrows may not look identical

Risks of Medical Permanent Makeup and Microblading

The risks of medical permanent makeup and microblading include:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Itchiness
  • Inflammation
  • Scarring

Who is the Best Choice to Perform Medical Permanent Makeup or Microblading?

Medical permanent makeup and microblading are cosmetic tattooing treatments that can benefit a wide range of patients. However, they require a superb set of skills with an artistic touch. Therefore, patients need to look for someone who is certified by the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals or the American Academy of Micropigmentation. Technicians certified by these organizations must have a certain level of experience and pass a standardized timed examination put together by experts in the field. The technician will be tested for knowledge of the equipment, pigments, anatomy and makeup design as well as sterilization and protection of the consumer from cross-contamination of blood borne pathogens.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - MA

Based on an exclusive interview with Laura Reed, OD in Meridian, ID