Your Health

Permanent Makeup May Cause Permanent Problems

woman puts on mascara

Getting makeup permanent tattooed on your face could be risky. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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If you can't draw a straight line with an eyeliner to save your life (like me), you may have been tempted by one of those alluring ads for permanent makeup. At least I was tempted until I read an article recently by Consumer Reports medical advisor Orly Avitzur about what can go wrong.

So while you can get your eyelids, brows, lips, even cheeks permanently "made up" at your local spa, nail salon, or doctor's office, what you're really getting is a tattoo.

And just like a body tattoo, Dr. Avitzur writes, "If you have a change of heart, permanent makeup is neither easy, nor inexpensive to remove, and, as it turns out, it's quite risky, too."

How can permanent makeup be risky? Well, to start with, it may not look like what you expected. One unhappy poster on an Internet bulletin board says about her eyebrows: "Mine is uneven (one side thick, one thin), one dark, one light, and the ends are pointy like Spock on Star Trek."

But problems with permanent makeup can literally run more than skin deep. According to both Consumer Reports and the Food and Drug Administration, complications can include infection, allergic reactions, and development of growths such as granulomas and even keloids.

Those, however, are to be expected with any tattoo. More surprising are reports of complications related to the metallic inks in permanent makeup.

The inks can sometimes cause pain or inflammation during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures, and they may have a tendency to oxidize, also known as "rust."

It's not clear how often complications occur. The FDA says it's received more than 150 reports, while the founder of the American Academy of Micropigmentation — a trade group for permanent makeup providers — says he can count "only a handful."

If you still want to try it, be sure you find a certified provider.

As for me, I think I'd rather draw a crooked line I can wipe off over than a rusty one I can't.

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