Permanent Makeup Removal: What Are Your Options

Permanent makeup saves time and money, while also ensuring that you always look your best, even at the gym or first thing in the morning. Older women may opt for permanent makeup to camouflage thinning brows and lips, rather than relying on daily liner applications with an unsteady hand. However, achieving these benefits requires commitment because, much like that butterfly tattoo you got freshman year, your permanent makeup isn't going anywhere anytime soon. With that said, if you've already gone under the gun and you're regretting it, you do have a few options for permanent makeup removal.

Bide your time. You may not want to hear it, but the easiest and least expensive option for permanent makeup removal is to just be patient and wait it out. Like any tattoo, permanent makeup fades over time and may fade more quickly because the skin of the face tends to have the greatest sun exposure. Women who opt for permanent makeup typically go in for touch-ups every few years to darken or brighten fading colors. Thus, if you can manage waiting it out, know that your permanent makeup will continue to fade over the years, making it less noticeable and easier to camouflage with regular makeup.

Typical tattoo removal methods. If biding your time isn't an option for you, you have several other permanent makeup removal methods to choose from. Because permanent makeup is no different than a tattoo, the methods for removing it are no different than those used in tattoo removal. Common tattoo and permanent makeup removal methods include:

Laser resurfacing. You've probably heard of people having tattoos "lasered off." Celebs, like Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox, seem to be doing it all the time. This is the most common type of tattoo removal. It requires several treatments, during which laser beams break up and eradicate most of the color. It can be painful and costly, and side effects can include scarring, darkening of the skin and infection. And unfortunately, it typically doesn't result in 100 percent removal of permanent makeup, but it should fade the appearance somewhat.

Dermabrasion. Dermabrasion is another permanent makeup removal option, which removes the top layers of skin via intense exfoliation. It's difficult to perform around the immediate eye area, but can be somewhat effective for removing other permanent makeup, such as eyebrow filler or permanent blush. Like laser resurfacing, dermabrasion can be painful and may not completely remove your permanent makeup.

Surgical removal. When other methods just won't cut it, a cosmetic surgeon can remove tattooed skin by cutting it out. Surgical removal is generally a last resort for permanent makeup removal, because it can cause permanent scarring, among other risks, which are especially problematic when dealing with the sensitive skin of the face.

Factors affecting permanent makeup removal. The success of any permanent makeup removal option depends upon a number of factors: the pigment of your skin, the area where the makeup has been tattooed, the type of ink used and your history of allergic reaction. Some say that black pigment, such as that used for eyeliner or brow filler, is easier to remove and responds well to laser treatment.

Like the decision to get permanent makeup in the first place, opting for permanent makeup removal is a big decision that should be considered carefully. Ask your doctor to refer you to a qualified dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon, and consult about all your options before going through with a treatment. If you're still only considering permanent makeup, realize that this cosmetic procedure is meant to be permanent, and removal may not be safe or fully possible in all cases. Other semipermanent options are available that involve less risk, such as brow tinting, which is designed to make brows appear darker and fuller, and minimize the need for daily brow filler.

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