Cosmetic Tattooing | Permanent Makeup Procedures
The following is general information and is not meant to be taken as medical advice.
Permanent Makeup / Cosmetic Tattoos
Permament makeup is another name for cosmetic tattooing, dermapigmentation and micropigmentation. Cosmetic tattooing is commonly used to create artificial eyebrows, permanent eyeliner, blush, eyeshadow or to add permanent color to the lips. There are many reasons why an individual may choose to have a cosmetic tattooing procedure. For some, it is an aesthetic choice or an initiation rite. Some choose permanent makeup as a time saver or because they have physical difficulty applying regular, temporary makeup. For others, tattooing is an adjunct to reconstructive surgery, particularly of the face or breast, to simulate natural pigmentation. People who have lost their eyebrows due to alopecia (a form of hair loss) may choose to have eyebrows tattooed on, while people with vitiligo (a lack of pigmentation in areas of the skin) may try tattooing to help camouflage the condition.
Whatever their reason, consumers should be aware of the risks involved in order to make an informed decision.
Risks Involved in Tattooing
Listed below you will find several of the risks to be considered before undergoing cosmetic tattooing.
Unsterile tattooing equipment and needles can transmit infectious diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis, and skin infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus ("staph") and other bacteria*. Tattoos received at facilities not regulated by your state or at facilities that use unsterile equipment (or re-use ink) may prevent you from being accepted as a blood or plasma donor for twelve months. Infections also have resulted from contaminated tattoo inks, even when the tattoo artist has followed hygienic procedures. These infections can require prolonged treatment with antibiotics.
Despite advances in laser technology, removing a tattoo is a painstaking process, usually involving several treatments and considerable expense. Complete removal without scarring may be impossible.
Although FDA has received reports of numerous adverse reactions associated with certain shades of ink in permanent makeup, marketed by a particular manufacturer, reports of allergic reactions to tattoo pigments have been rare. However, when they happen they may be particularly troublesome because the pigments can be hard to remove. Occasionally, people may develop an allergic reaction to tattoos they have had for years.
These are nodules that may form around material that the body perceives as foreign, such as particles of tattoo pigment.
If you are prone to developing keloids -- scars that grow beyond normal boundaries -- you are at risk of keloid formation from a tattoo. Keloids may form any time you injure or traumatize your skin.
There have been reports of people with tattoos or permanent makeup who experienced swelling or burning in the affected areas when they underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This seems to occur only rarely and apparently without lasting effects. There have also been reports of tattoo pigments interfering with the quality of the MRI image. This seems to occur mainly when a person with permanent eyeliner undergoes MRI of the eyes. However, the risks of avoiding an MRI when your doctor has recommended one are likely to be much greater than the risks of complications from an interaction between the MRI and tattoo or permanent makeup. Instead of avoiding an MRI, individuals who have tattoos or permanent makeup should inform the radiologist or technician.
A Common Problem: Dissatisfaction
A common problem that may develop with tattoos is the desire to remove them. Removing tattoos and permanent makeup can be very difficult.
Although tattoos may be satisfactory at first, they sometimes fade. Also, if the tattooist injects the pigments too deeply into the skin, the pigments may migrate beyond the original sites, resulting in a blurred appearance.
Another cause of dissatisfaction is that the human body changes over time, and styles change with the season. The permanent makeup that may have looked flattering when first injected may later clash with changing skin tones and facial or body contours. People who plan to have facial cosmetic surgery are advised that the appearance of their permanent makeup may become distorted. The tattoo that seem stylish at the time may become dated and embarrassing later on. And changing tattoos or permanent makeup is not as easy as changing your mind.
Consult your healthcare provider about the best removal techniques for you.
Temporary Tattoos, Henna / Mehndi, and "Black Henna"
Temporary tattoos, such as those applied to the skin with a moistened wad of cotton, fade several days after application. FDA has issued an import alert for certain foreign-made temporary tattoos containing colors that are not permitted for this use or don't carry the FDA-mandated list of ingredients. Additionally, FDA has received reports of allergic reactions to temporary tattoos.
In a similar action, FDA has issued an import alert for henna intended for use on the skin. Henna is approved only for use as a hair dye, not for direct application to the skin. Also, henna typically produces a reddish brown tint, raising questions about what ingredients are added to produce the varieties of colors labeled as "henna", such as "black henna" and "blue henna."
Hair dyes are not approved for use on the skin, and some people may be sensitive to them. FDA has also received reports of allergic reactions to temporary tattoos that contain henna and those consisting only of hair dye. Some reactions have resulted in scarring.
Reporting Adverse Reactions
FDA urges consumers and healthcare providers to report adverse reactions from tattoos, permanent makeup, and temporary tattoos, as well as problems with tattoo removal.
Consumers and healthcare providers can report problems to Medwatch (www.fda.gov/medwatch) or by calling 1-800-332-1088.
For more information, see the additional resources listed under Tattoos and Permanent Makeup
Cosmetics & FDA Approval: Required?
FDA does not approve cosmetics, although the FDA does approve color additives used in cosmetics. It is the responsibility of cosmetic manufacturers to ensure, before marketing their products, that the products are safe when used as directed in their label or under customary conditions of use.
The following is information published on the www.fda.gov site in 2012 regarding contamination of pigment used in tattoos:
The information on this page may have become outdated!
For the latest information about the safety cosmetic tattooing:
Type in "permanent makeup".