What You Need to Know About Lip Blushing, the ‘Tattoo’ for Fuller Lips

If you’re obsessed with effect that lip tints give (aka an effortless touch of color that won’t smudge), then it’s time you think about lip blushing. The sweet-sounding name is basically a way to say a tattooing of the lips—but don’t let that scare you. New York-based celebrity dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank breaks down how lip tattooing works, if it hurts, and how, yes, it can actually make your lips look bigger. 

What Is Lip Blushing?

Lip blushing is a form of semi-permanent tattoo or makeup where people are looking to rejuvenate the color of their lip border or the actual substance of the lip,” says Frank. “It is not uncommon as we age to lose the pigment, particularly women, in their lips and lip lines. With loss of color and lip definition, a lot of women use lip liner to accommodate this and to make the lips look slightly bigger.”

Here’s how it works: a tiny mechanized needle deposits pigment into the lips, which builds layers of color. Sources explain that it can be a corrective service to help even out the tone of the lips, but it can also help with asymmetry. The service can cost anywhere between $500-$1,500 per appointment, depending on where you live.

How Permanent Is Lip Blushing?

Similar to a cosmetic service like microblading—which utilizes a blade to manually create small cuts in the skin, which are then filled with ink—the results vary person to person. Generally, lip blushing can last several years, although your lifestyle contributes to how well it maintains; smoking and sun exposure can speed up the fading process, and if you’re oil-prone, have an iron deficiency, or use a lot of exfoliating products in your skin regimen, the pigment could fade more quickly, too.

A tattoo on the lips sounds painful—especially for someone who might be looking for an alternative to getting injected with filler. “It can be done with topical anesthesia and is tolerable,” Frank shares for patients who are nervous. 

If you’re worried about your pain tolerance, a pain reliever like Tylenol can be taken prior to the appointment; but be warned, you should avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, since they can thin the blood and cause more sensitivity.

What to Expect From Your Appointment

First, there’s pout prep. A topical anesthetic is applied to pre-numb the lips for 20 minutes. Afterwards, the technician will draw the shape of the “new” lips so that you can evaluate and make any changes. 

The procedure takes place over the course of an hour to an hour and a half, if not longer, depending on the look you’re going for. Once the appointment is completed, your lips may be swollen—it is a tattoo, after all—so you can ice them if necessary. Over the next week, your lips will start to heal, meaning they may scab, so it’s important to time this carefully around your schedule. 

When it comes to scabs, it’s important that they fall off naturally—picking them can result in scarring or loss of pigment in those areas. Also, avoid workouts and sun exposure for two weeks, and if you plan on getting injections, wait a full month. Sleeping on your face could also cause the scabs to fall off prematurely. An occlusive ointment like Aquaphor should be worn to keep the lips properly moisturized. 

Important note: if you have a history of cold sores or herpes, the procedure could trigger an outbreak. Prescribed anti-viral medication should be taken in advance of the appointment, and it should be noted that cold sores can affect the healed results of the lip blush.

How to Find a Trained Technician 

The biggest con to lip blushing is if it’s not done appropriately, it could appear fake looking,” says Frank. That’s why it’s so important to do your research and find an incredible technician. To find a trained specialist, it’s important to ask the right questions and not base your decisions off of social media. Always ask how long they’ve been performing semi permanent makeup procedures—the longer, the better. If they have a Yelp profile, check for reviews within the last six months regarding the service you’re looking to get. Some states require technicians to obtain a blood-borne pathogen certificate or a body art/esthetician license, but each state varies, so check your state board to learn what qualifications cosmetic tattoo artists require. 

Instagram is a great discovery tool when it comes to learning about these procedures and potentially finding a technician to work with, but take caution and look at the tech’s body of work, not just one or two photos. 

How Long Does Lip Blushing Last?

Like any procedure or treatment, there’s maintenance involved. Not picking the scabs off your lips is key to an easy healing process—so is keeping them hydrated. (Again, Aquaphor!). “Once the desired result is achieved, patients may need touchups on a yearly basis,” says Frank. Basically, the same level of maintenance as microblading your brows. 

Can It Make Your Lips Look Bigger?

Look is the key word here. “Although lip blushing does not make the lips actually larger, one perceives them to be bigger—just like makeup,” says Frank. “It gives a plumper appearance or a more defined appearance. We must look at it as a semi-permanent form of makeup.”

ELLE

Brow Lamination Is Our Needle-Free Alternative to Microblading

Whether it be microblading, microfeathering, extensions, or a good old-fashioned brow pencil, there are tons of ways to groom your brows these days. While microblading and microfeathering are semi-permanent solutions for anyone who’s over-filling in their brows every morning, these treatments aren’t for everyone. If you have a needle phobia or are nervous that you’ll end up with irreversible botched brows, you’ve probably politely sat these two options out. As for eyebrow extensions, there are no needles involved, but your brows may start to look uneven as the fibers fall out — that’s where brow lamination comes in. It is the needle-free treatment for thicker, fuller brows.

Originating in Russia, but blowing up in England, brow lamination tames unruly hairs and sets them in place for a fluffy just-combed look. “Brow lamination is essentially a perm for your eyebrows, but without using the same harsh chemicals,” says Giselle Soto, a Los Angeles-based celebrity brow artist who offers the treatment stateside. “It’s a keratin treatment that not only stimulates growth while strengthening the brow hairs, but creates thick, fluffy, and full brows.” Lamination is also a good alternative to microblading because it works with your existing hair, giving you your ideal brow look without the use of needles, ink insertion into the body, and pain, adds Soto.

What Happens During Brow Lamination? 

First, Soto says she has an in-depth consultation with clients where she goes over the details of the treatment including the process and the desired results.

The actual treatment begins with brow shaping to create a clean slate. Next, a “style adjusting” product is used to style the hairs into the client’s desired shape, followed by a style neutralizer that sets brows in place. The last step is the application of a nourishing keratin oil that replenishes moisture after the chemical treatment process.

How Should You Prepare for a Brow Lamination Treatment? 

Soto says it’s best to avoid using retinol and topical over-the-counter and prescription acne treatments for at least 48 hours before your treatment. These products can sensitize the skin, and potentially lead to irritation. Arriving at your appointment makeup-free with clean skin also helps the process.

What Should You Do Post-Brow Lamination Treatment? 

Like microblading or eyebrow extensions, there are a few best practices to follow post-lamination treatment to protect your new brows. Soto recommends not wetting or rubbing the area and avoiding creams, oils, and brow or eye makeup. You should also skip that workout and the extra-hot shower you usually take afterward.

How Long Does Brow Lamination Last, and How Much Does It Cost? 

With proper care, brow lamination can last four to eight weeks. The price ranges from $80 to $300 depending on location and the artist who’s performing the treatment. Soto currently charges $300.

Who Should Get Brow Lamination? 

While brow lamination is generally for everyone, there are a few exceptions. “This treatment is not recommended for people who have scratches, burns, or scars near the eyes, have eye contamination, skin conditions, or inflammation in the eyebrow area,” says Soto. You should also stay away from brow lamination if you have allergies or past reactions to cosmetics, dyes, and semi-permanent tattooing such as microblading.

What Are the Side Effects of Brow Lamination? 

Brow lamination isn’t going to harm your actual brows, but while the chemicals used are more gentle than an actual perm, they can still irritate your eye area when skin is exposed to them. “Giving that the eyelid is the thinnest, most delicate skin of the body, it is especially prone to irritation,” explains Soto. “The chemicals from the brow lamination could cause eczema if skin is exposed, which is characterized by red, dry, itchy, and inflamed skin.” That’s why it’s important that your artist is experienced so they’re careful the product doesn’t spread down to the eyelid area.

Dr. Shari Sperling, a board-certified dermatologist based in New Jersey, seconds this warning along with what the chemicals can do to your actual brow hairs. “A downside to be aware of is potential irritation from the chemicals that are used when they touch the skin around the eyes,” she says. “While the results are not permanent, there are chemicals that are used on the eyebrow hairs which may damage the hairs themselves. Think of women who process hair on the scalp for years and end up with their hair falling out or thinning due to the chemicals and processing that was done in the past.”

Like with any new treatment, the results may be transformative, but there are also underlying risks. If you’re curious about brow lamination, make sure to do your research to find a skilled artist that works out of a licensed, clean salon before booking an appointment.

INSTYLE

The 9 Best Brow Pens for Creating a Microblading Effect

Because the ink doesn’t go as deeply into the skin as body art, microblading fades over time. Depending on your skin type, it could last one to two years. Sometimes, you even need a touchup four to eight weeks after your first appointment.

However, getting that touchup right now isn’t exactly an option. With salons across the U.S. shuttered due to the COVID-19 outbreak, people have been trying professional services on themselves, like facials and haircuts. But at-home microblading is absolutely not an option. Luckily, brow pens that create the same effect — no painful incisions necessary — exist. Sure, their hair-like strokes for the illusion of fuller, defined arches last only about two days, but the pens work in a pinch. They provide a quick touchup for your next Zoom meeting and will hold you over until you can finally make an appointment with your favorite cosmetic tattooist once again. For those who’ve never gotten the procedure done before, consider this a way to satisfy your microblading curiosity, too.

Most of the brow pens on this list take a three-pronged approach to master a microblading effect — literally. Milk Makeup and Maybelline New York launched pens with toothed applicator for quickly etching on lines that look just like naturally grown brow hairs. MAC and Urban Decay also make ones with felt or brush tips like your go-to liquid liner, so you’ll be used to maneuvering it. No matter what applicator you prefer, you’re sure to find a suitable option for your brow grooming routine on this list of best brow pens for creating a microblading effect, below.

Essence The Eyebrow Pen

The Essence The Eyebrow Pen is a no-nonsense take on the toothed marker trend. Rake it through your arches with short, upward strokes, and your handiwork won’t budge until you wash your face. Fans of the tool also speckle on faux freckles with the pen. 

$4 (Shop Now

Glossier Brow Flick 

Glossier Brow Flick fills in where Boy Brow doesn’t. The latter tames and fluffs up arches; the paintbrush-like applicator of Brow Flick, on the other hand, focuses on the details. 

Fill in gaps and add definition where you need it, but keep this tip from New York City-based makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes in mind: the pen works best on “completely clean, oil-free brows, so you shouldn’t have any moisturizer on them or any oils or serums or any skin-care product — and no highlighters.” 

$18 (Shop Now

L’Oréal Paris Micro Ink Brow Pen

Comb the L’Oréal Paris Micro Ink Brow Pen through your brows like a little brush to bolster every hair for up to 48 hours straight. Its applicator has the sharpest edge on the market. Flip it over and elongate the tails of your arches with it. 

$11 (Shop Now

Milk Makeup Kush Triple Brow Pen

The ingredient list for the Milk Makeup Kush Triple Brow Pen could be confused for a skin-care product as it touts aloe, sunflower oil, and CBD oil – all to help nourish your brows and the skin underneath them. The pen is offered in a whooping eight hues in warm, cool, and neutral tones of blonde and brown, as well as auburn and black, so you’re find to find your perfect match. 

$22 (Shop Now

Revolution Pro Build & Grow Brow Serum Duo

The Revolution Pro Build & Grow Brow Serum Duo wants to be a part of all of your beauty routines. While doing your makeup, uncap the pigmented side in one of three variations of brown: ash, warm, and dark to sculpt your brows. 

When it’s time for your nighttime skin-care regimen, remove the white cap to reveal a market-like applicator to coat your arches in a transparent serum. We can’t attest to its hair growth claims, but millet seed extract and panthenol are sure to moisturize the area. 

$10 (Shop Now

MAC Shape + Shade Brow Tint

The forces of a pen and powder join together in one powerful baton. One of the MAC Shape + Shade Brow Tint is an ultra-fine felt tip liner to fill gaps; the other houses a self-depositing sheer pigment in its cap that clings onto the spongey tip. Smooth it onto arches to add dimension and lock in your brow look all day long. 

$22 (Shop Now

Maybelline New York TattooStudio Brow Tint Pen

Press down the tip to conveniently replenish the long-lasting inkiness of the Maybelline New York TattooStudio Brow Tint Pen — a genius feature most of the other pens lack. (For the others, store them cap side down to force the pigment to collect at the tip.) 

$10 (Shop Now

Sephora Collection Microblade Effect Brow Pen

Another thin brush tip option if the three-pronged applicators intimidate you: the Sephora Collection Microblade Effect Brow Pen. You can pick from two universal shades – light and deep – to make the faux microblading process that much more foolproof. 

$12 (Shop Now

Urban Decay Brow Blade

Although the Urban Decay Brow Blade is the priciest option on this list, it’s the perfect selection if your partial to a pencil. The two-in-one solution has a tiny retractable one that’s equally as neddle-like brush applicator for a subtle stain. Its shade range is also the most numerous with nine to choose from, including a universal color called Taupe Trap. 

$26 (Shop Now

ALLURE article

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading Your Eyebrows

Whether tweezers hit you hard in the ‘90s and the brow grow-back never happened, or you just don’t feel like filling in your eyebrows every morning, microblading can be an easy solution for full, perfectly groomed, natural-looking eyebrows.

But while the term “microblading” is fairly colloquial these days, the in-salon procedure (and what happens to your eyebrows after the fact) can still strike up a ton of confusion. What is eyebrow microblading, exactly? Does eyebrow microblading last forever? Will you end up with Instagram brows? The questions are endless.

What Is Eyebrow Microblading?

Unlike an eyebrow pencil that you wipe off at night before you go to sleep, eyebrow microblading is a semi-permanent tattoo procedure where a special handheld microblading eyebrow pen is used to draw on strokes that mimic the appearance of real brow hairs, Aava explains. While it’s a similar process to getting a tattoo, the ink that is used is far less concentrated than that of a regular tattoo and is specifically formulated for the microblading process.

Who Should Consider Microblading?

While there are thousands of eyebrow products on the market, those that tend to opt for microblading want fuller, natural-looking eyebrows but don’t want the hassle of filling them in every single morning, or the worry that the pigment won’t last all day. “If you benefit from a brow pencil, then you will benefit from microblading,” explains Aava.

However, if you are pregnant or have any medical contraindications, Aava says you should not microblade your eyebrows.

How Long Does Microblading Last?

Not forever, but way longer than your waterproof eyebrow gel, that’s for sure! In fact, according to Aava, microblading can last anywhere from one to three years, depending on your skin type, lifestyle, sun exposure, and the products that you use. However, touch-ups are commonly needed about once a year, especially for those with oily skin, as the ink tends to fade and blur faster.

What Happens During a Microblading Appointment? 

After the area is sanitized and numbed, Aava consults with the client on the eyebrow shape that will be drawn on. While you can bring in pictures like a haircut, Aava says that in order to create a true natural-looking brow, she likes to follow the direction of the natural brow hairs and takes into consideration the client’s face symmetry and age. She also consults with the client on the pigment of the ink, which she explains is chosen based off of the natural color of the brow hairs and the skin’s undertone.

Then, she moves onto drawing the strokes in using the microblading pen, which can take anywhere from 30-40 minutes, depending on the eyebrow area. After the eyebrows are finished, she applies an aftercare ointment to help healing and a follow-up appointment is scheduled for four to six weeks later. At this appointment, she is able to tweak the final result if needed.

What’s the After-Care Like When Microblading Your Eyebrows?

This isn’t a suggestion to take lightly, as it can have a direct impact on the brow look you end up with. To prevent blurring or fading, Aava suggests keeping them dry from water and sweat for a week or longer, and to refrain from wiping. She also recommends applying her ointment once a day to speed up healing.

Right after the treatment is done, the brows will be darker and slightly red, but the redness and the pigment will slightly fade in color as the brows heal. “Besides them being darker while healing there isn’t any major side effects,” says Aava. “Infection is always possible if you don’t take care of them and don’t follow proper aftercare. All the instruments are disposable in our office, so chances of infection happening is slim to none. Just choose your artist wisely.”

Do You Still Have to Use an Eyebrow Pencil After?

That’s up to your personal preference. “If you wish to add more to match more dramatic makeup, you are more than welcome to add more pencil,” says Aava. However, you should wait the recommended one week (or longer) before applying product.

Who Can Perform Microblading?

There’s not much regulation when it comes to microblading, so you truly have to use your best judgment, do very thorough research, read views, and check out photos of the salon and the artist’s work. You’ll also want to actually go into the salon to check out the facilities sanitation, as Aava says that’s where the chances of infection can increase.

It’s commonly offered at salons or specialty eyebrow boutiques, and microblading artists usually have to undergo some sort of training. For example, Aava is a cosmetic tattoo specialist, and many other microblading experts are also estheticians.

How Much Is Microblading Your Eyebrows?

Your geographical location, the artist’s skill level, and how much microblading actually needs to be done to your eyebrows can all impact the final cost of your procedure. It can range anywhere from $250 to $1,500. 

InStyle article