From at-home LED masks to topical retinoids and even in-office lasering, the beauty world has gifted us so many brilliant inventions that lend to a healthy and vibrant complexion. That said, navigating safe and science-backed technologies can be a bit tricky.
For example, “permanent” makeup (think freckle tattooing, eyebrow microblading, lip blushing, and even permanent concealer) has increasingly woven its way into the beauty landscape. While convenient, many are left wondering whether some of these treatments have taken a step too far.
One treatment that’s especially been under fire is permanent concealer, also referred to as tattoo concealer or scar camouflage. Curious about what this treatment is, whether it’s safe, and who (if anyone) is a candidate, we sat down with Dr. Stacy Chimento, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Florida.
What is Permanent Makeup?
Before explaining what permanent concealer is, let’s first outline the basics of permanent makeup. It’s a treatment where “makeup” is applied the same way a tattoo is drawn onto your skin. Only instead of a piece of art on, say, your forearm or wrist, permanent makeup mimics the application of your regular makeup. In that sense, it takes the chore of everyday application out of your routine. Think of it as a high-maintenance approach to low maintenance.
The name is a bit of a misnomer since permanent makeup is technically semi-permanent. On average, it fades anywhere from six months to several years after being tattooed.
Permanent makeup has been around for a while, but the art has been greatly finessed over the years. Treatments like eyebrow microblading and lip blushing have become particularly common, and the potential caveats associated with these aren’t as worrisome as they are with a procedure such as permanent concealer.
What is Permanent Concealer?
Permanent concealer is exactly what it sounds like: a type of permanent makeup where you use a cosmetic tattoo gun to conceal complexion inconsistencies with skin-colored, cosmetic-grade “ink” (pigment). It helps create a more even-looking complexion by camouflaging things like scars, hyperpigmentation, and lingering redness or darkness. Permanent concealer is also used to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
What are the risks of Permanent Concealer?
While permanent concealer sounds like a fantastic, practical solution on paper, it can pose some potential risks:
Possibility of Infection
Anytime the skin is being punctured it must be done so under extremely rigid safety
protocols. Your risk of infection goes down substantially when you hire a reputable permanent makeup artist who follows medical guidelines. This is true of all tattooing.
Potential Skin Damage
“If you are having this treatment done under the eyes to conceal dark circles, the skin under the eyes is very thin and delicate,” notes Dr. Chimento. Tattooing here must be done with extreme care, a steady hand, and an understanding of facial anatomy in order to prevent damage.
Some people might experience an allergic skin reaction and/or irritation after getting permanent concealer. This is something to speak about with your doctor and the tattoo artist.
Odd Texture / Uneven Pigmentation
“Most of these permanent concealer pigments have titanium dioxide. This is the ingredient that creates the lightening effect,” notes Dr. Chimento. “[Additionally], over time, it can turn uneven and lumpy because titanium dioxide has dense, large molecules.”
It Can’t Be Removed (Immediately)
Though permanent concealer will fade over time, there’s no immediate recourse following your treatment. If the color doesn’t seem quite right or you’re unhappy with the results, you’ll have to wait it out. “Right now, unlike with other tattoo methods, the pigment can’t be removed using a laser,” says Dr. Chimento.
Who is a Good Candidate for Permanent Concealer?
We asked Dr. Chimento outright if she felt like permanent concealer was a viable or good option for anyone. While some people are less prone to experiencing some of the complications above, she’s firm on her belief that this this treatment is better left skipped.
You should especially not get tattoo concealer if you’re:
- Pregnant or nursing
- Taking a blood thinner / anti-coagulant medication
- Are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation
- Have skin irritations or psoriasis near the area that will be treated (including rashes, sunburn, acne, etc.)
- Have a history of keloid scarring
- Recently underwent eye surgery, including laser eye surgery, eye lift, or blepharoplasty
- Have extremely sensitive skin
- Have a history of hyperpigmentation
The Bottom Line
In a perfect world, we’d wake up and not have to painstakingly apply concealer. The reality is that we don’t yet live in that perfect world!
“Since this procedure is new and has not been perfected, the benefits outweigh the risks for something that is purely elective when many quality options exist for under-eye concealer that can be purchased online or in a store,” says Dr. Chimento.
There might be a day when permanent concealer is considered safer, but until then it’s best to be cautious and wait for the green light.
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