Decoding Permanent Makeup

In the past few years, permanent makeup has made a huge comeback. More and more women and men...yes men, are opting for permanent makeup services. The most popular areas to have permanent makeup are the eyebrows. Let's face it (no pun intended), when it comes to brows, most of us are lacking. Brows are the frame to our face, so perfect arches are key. When it comes to permanent makeup, there are MANY different names for this procedure. The most common is the obvious: permanent makeup, followed by cosmetic tattooing, micropigmentation, dermagraphics, microblading, eyebrow embroidery, the list goes on and on. This is very confusing to the consumer. So what is the definition of these terms and are they all the same type of procedure? Let me explain.

Permanent makeup is the process of implanting pigment into the dermal layer of the skin to create fuller looking brows and defined eyes and lips. Is it really permanent? Yes and no. Typically, most permanent makeup artists use pigment vs ink. Pigment has a thicker consistency than ink. Ink is more watery in texture and tends to have more staying power. Ink is most commonly used by body tattoo artists. Most pigments will last in the skin from 1-5 years. That range is so broad since everybody's skin is different and the use of skin care products plays a role in how well the pigment holds. The pigment exfoliates out of the skin over time causing the pigment to lighten. Most permanent makeup artists recommend color refreshers every 12-18 months to keep the pigment looking fresh. 

There are many different devices that can be used for permanent makeup. There are digital machines, coil machines and hand tools. When it comes to the terms of microblading and eyebrow embroidery, the hand tool is used to simulate hair strokes in the brow. The small blade makes a tiny cut in the skin in the design of a single brow hair and then pigment is placed over the skin so that the pigment absorbs into the skin. This process is done throughout the entire eyebrow. These methods often result in a much lighter and softer version  of permanent makeup and typically only last about 12 months. It's harder to achieve the hair stroke definition through this method however, it is a nice option for clients that are nervous at the thought of permanent makeup. I personally use a digital device when doing my procedures as I get a more defined hair stroke and the results last longer.

Permanent makeup is an art form. Choose your artist wisely, this is your face we are talking about. While it is technically not totally permanent, it can not be erased or removed without removal treatments. Have a consult with your chosen artist, see before and after photos and make sure it is performed in a clean and professional environment. Permanent makeup is a game changer in the beauty industry and in the right hands it can be utterly transformational. Especially for clients that are dealing with hair loss due to alopecia or chemotherapy. While brow and eyeliner procedures are a few of my favorite procedures to perform, nothing compares to giving a woman back an areola through cosmetic tattooing that she lost during breast reconstruction. These are just a few of the amazing services that can be offered with permanent makeup.

Areola Tattooing: The Final Step in Breast Reconstruction

Because October has been National Breast Cancer Awareness Month for the past 25 years, I wanted to take this time to tell you all about the areola tattooing work I have been doing on behalf of the brave women I have met who are facing this disease.  As the fifth leading cause of death of women, breast cancer is a serious disease often leading to the difficult decision to have a mastectomy.  Following a mastectomy, breast reconstructive surgery is required by a plastic surgeon.  Areola pigmentation is the final step of breast reconstruction, but many women are indifferent at first about having the procedure done.  When the process is finished, however, they are elated and say they feel complete and like a woman again.  Areola pigmentation has come a long way.  It is no longer a “bull’s eye” tattooed over the breast mound.  I actually create a 3D nipple which gives the “illusion of protrusion” and makes the breast look more realistic (check out areola pigmentation before and after photos here).  Completing this procedure and seeing the positive emotional impact it has on breast cancer patients, has added a level of depth and fulfillment to my career as a permanent makeup artist. Another major pro to areola tattooing is that by law insurance companies have to cover all areas of breast reconstruction, so the procedure is reimbursable. To find out more about breast and nipple reconstruction, here is a link with more information from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure website.

I wish all of you a happy and safe October and if you have any questions about areola pigmentation or my other services, please feel free to contact me at  or call 212-772-2501.

Brow Beauty

“The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry, and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.” – Aristotle


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The Greeks, known for their philosophical and mathematical endeavors, tried to explain all things with equations. When it comes to geometry or arithmetic, equations make sense. But can there be a way to measure beauty?
Plato spoke of the “golden proportion”, an idyllic balance of all factors. This idea permeated all facets of Ancient Greek culture, including love and beauty. When it came to true beauty, poets, artists and scholars alike agreed that one factor was key: symmetry.
A symmetrical face is scientifically proven to be beautiful. Studies show that humans, from babies to adults, respond better to a proportionate face. So what can you do if your face doesn’t add up to the right equation? For many of us, the key to finding this symmetry simply lies in the correct use of makeup.
Makeup is used for augmenting natural beauty while making up for flaws. Make-up, get it? There are so many ways to enhance certain features with a simple stroke of the makeup brush.
One of the easiest ways to create symmetry is with careful construction of the eyebrows. Eyebrows can be shaped and contoured in a way that no other part of the human face can. In other words, outside of expensive cosmetic procedures a little brow TLC is the best way to create a beautiful face. Correctly sculptured eyebrows punctuate the face and define a person’s look. They can create symmetry where it did not exist before. And with expert micropigmentation, that stunning symmetry can be permanent.

Don't be Afraid of Permanent Makeup

When you hear the term “permanent makeup” or “cosmetic tattooing” one tends to think of black painted on eyebrows that resemble those of a Geisha girl or your 80 year old grandmother(sorry Grandma), who had her eyebrows tattooed when she was in her twenties and now has bluish colored lines where her brows should be. What we want you to know is that permanent makeup, also known as micropigmentation, does not have to make you cringe when you hear the words. So here’s the deal: over the past ten or so years, permanent cosmetics have come a long way. Pigments have more variations in color such as when a hair colorist chooses your hair color. Permanent makeup artists have a range of colors to choose from, sometimes using up to 3 colors to create a “highlight and low light’ effect. Also, the word “Permanent” can be taken a little lighter than it used to be. By law, Technicians have to state that their clients are receiving a permanent procedure, however, when the pigment is implanted into the skin at a lesser depth than traditional tattoos, the color will only last 2-5 years depending on care of the tattooed area. With that stated, the client is encouraged to return for a touch up once a year to “refresh” the color.

Micropigmentation is (literally) changing the faces of many. For those that are a few hairs short of perfection or lack makeup skills to those that suffer from Alopecia, MS, Parkinsons.This is a God send to many busy, active women and men….yes, men are also having this procedure done as well. When done right, this procedure can be nearly undetectable while adding definition to sparse brows and lashes as well as pale lips and fading lip lines. At Amy Kernahan Studio we use only FDA approved pigments and perform the hair stroke method for the most natural looking eyebrows. We also believe that there is a definite benefit by having a makeup artist perform these procedures as we have extensive experience with fine tuning lines and blending techniques as well as a broad understanding of color theory, making it possible for more natural results.