AURI REYNOSO, a hairstylist in Englewood, N.J., says she wanted to roll out of bed “looking beautiful.” So three years ago, she asked Melany Whitney, a qualified permanent-cosmetics professional situated in New York, New Jersey and Florida, to tattoo eyeliner and defined brows onto her face.
Even though the procedure was “a little uncomfortable,” said Ms. Reynoso, now 39, she was delighted with the results. “Everything for beauty,” she said. “It’s amazing tips on how to get up looking absolutely fabulous and make preparations in a few minutes. I just apply blush, lip gloss and mascara and I’m done.”
Permanent makeup, also referred to as micropigmentation or cosmetic tattooing, extends back towards the early 1980s, in the event it was developed to address alopecia, a condition that causes baldness (including eyebrows). Consequently, the area has expanded to incorporate burn victims and cancer survivors, patients with arthritis and Parkinson’s disease who have difficulty using makeup and folks like Ms. Reynoso, who would simply rather limit the time period spent before a mirror.
But even though many are thrilled because of their outcomes, all is not really rosy on the planet of needles and ink. The term “permanent” is a misnomer as the color fades after some time. Some patients develop granulomas, keloids, scars and blisters, plus they report burning sensations whenever they undergo an M.R.I.
What’s more, even though the inks utilized in eyeliner tattoo as well as the pigments during these inks are subjected to the scrutiny of the Food and Drug Administration, regulations for practitioners (electrologists, cosmetologists, doctors, nurses and tattoo artists) vary by state. “You will go on eBay and acquire machines and pigment and go in the garage and set up up shop,” said Dr. Charles Zwerling, an ophthalmologist in Goldsboro, N.C., and an author of 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 a large number of faces being destroyed by individuals who don’t get trained properly, and that’s the largest symptom in permanent cosmetics,” said John Hashey, the owner of John Hashey’s Advanced School of Permanent Cosmetics in Oldsmar, Fla. Mr. Hashey mentioned that 90 percent of his company is fixing mistakes. “Your average cosmetologist who cuts hair needs to do 1,200 to 1,500 hours just to do that,” he said. “How is any further important than having a needle to someone’s eye?”
The negative effects to micropigmentation include infections like H.I.V., hepatitis, staph and strep from dirty needles, and allergy symptoms for the permanent dyes, said Dr. Jessica J. Krant, a dermatologist in Manhattan and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology with the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in The Big Apple.
A written report in this month’s issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases reported an outbreak of mycobacterium haemophilum, a nontuberculous mycobacterium that triggers skin, joint, bone and pulmonary infections, after permanent makeup was placed on patients’ brows. An investigation last September in Contact Dermatitis, a medical journal, investigated severe negative effects like swelling, burning, and the growth of papules in four patients who had had at the very least two permanent-makeup procedures on their own lips. “In light in the severe and frequently therapy-resistant skin reactions, we strongly recommend the regulation and control of the substances” used in the colorants, the authors wrote.
Nancy Erfan, an agent in Monterey, Calif., experienced a bad experience. In November 2003, Ms. Erfan, now in her 30s, had permanent color applied to her lips and eyes. The technician told her she could be swollen for several days, and gave her a cream to assist. Although the swelling worsened, Ms. Erfan said, and soon she had “big bumps” around her eyes and lips.
“I could barely open my mouth to eat or speak,” she said. She visited a variety of dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons, but found no remedy. “They said I used to be obviously having a hypersensitive reaction, nevertheless they didn’t know what you can do.”
It been found that the colors used at one of the dyes by Premier Pigments, a manufacturer, was tainted; right after the F.D.A. received greater than 150 complaints, the organization eventually recalled the entire line.
Finally Ms. Erfan found Dr. Mitchel Goldman, a dermatologist in San Diego who focuses on laser elimination of tattoos. He did six treatments across a year, for the total of around $10,000, which insurance failed to cover. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine helped with facial pain and swelling, she said. Dr. Goldman would like greater F.D.A. supervision of permanent makeup. “I’ve had patients that have infections on his or her lips and eyebrows because these tattoo artists are eye1iner not regulated,” he said. “They use equipment that’s not sterile. Lots of infections also range from regular faucet water. They dip their needles in and transfer infections. The pigment would go to lymph nodes. Who is familiar with if 2 decades down the line patients could have lymphoma or cancer due to these carcinogens in tattoo pigment?”
Elizabeth Finch-Howell, the property owner and founder of Derma International, a lasting cosmetics manufacturer in Kempton, Pa., believes at the least 100 hours will do. (She got a tattoo that matched her complexion to pay for up a port-wine colored birthmark on one half of her face, performing the process herself because “I didn’t trust someone else,” she said.)
As for Ms. Erfan, she is still angry, years later. It took her greater than a year plus a half to recuperate, she said, and she really has scars in her lips. She must wear makeup to pay the scars and white lines above her mouth, along with the facial pain persists. “Applying makeup is a thing, but injecting it into your body? I feel stupid,” she said. “But everything I read about permanent makeup was positive, how even Cleopatra was tattooing her eye liner and lip liner. I thought it was safe.”