Out with the old, in with the makeup tattoo - The Explorer: Import

Out with the old, in with the makeup tattoo

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Posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:52 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

October 18, 2006 - Soothing classical music spilled from a piano as Shae Goldman gazed into a lush green courtyard, waiting for her lips to numb.

"Lips were designed for kissing," Pamela Netz said, explaining why it took so long. Lips have lots of nerve endings.

Goldman had arrived at Faces Artistry that morning to have her lips permanently reddened. She never had considered herself great at applying makeup. And the aging process, which drained some color from her face, coincided with a decreased interest in standing in front of the mirror each morning.

Three years ago, Goldman saw her eyebrows start to thin and took a beautician friend's advice by compensating with a bit of light color on her brows. As she sat in the permanent makeup office near the corner of Magee and Ina roads on Saturday, she joked about not wanting to be the kind of grandmother a toddler would run from if he saw her first thing in the morning.

Netz pulled out a Sharpie and drew tiny red dots on Goldman's lips so she'd know where to apply color. It's the same kind of pen that doctors use for surgery, though they don't use red.

"Shea, is that OK?" Netz asked, as she started scratching the surface of the lips with a tiny brush tipped with needles. It made a clicking noise as needles caught flesh, but Goldman felt no pain.

"Uh huh, I'm real comfortable," Goldman said.

Temporary makeup, also called micropigmentation, has a long history that some date back to Egypt. Cleopatra's dramatic eye makeup may have been tattooed on, and some Egyptian mummies show signs of foreign pigment in their faces.

In the 1980s, it emerged as an alternative to spending a half-hour in front of a mirror in the mornings.

As Netz made tiny scratches across Goldman's lips, sometimes drawing and blotting away a drop of blood, she chatted like a friendly worker in a hairdressing salon about her family, her friends and her career.

"I was not born thinking I'd tattoo," Netz said.

Netz did recall thinking at an early age that she would be an artist. She loved etch drawings, similar to what she does now on faces, and wanted to go to art school. The need for a lucrative job got the better of her, though, and she decided to make the human face her canvas.

In 12 years, she's seen countless clients, most of whom have alopecia - an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss. Most people lose some hair as they age, and some 4.7 million people in the United States suffer from the condition.

Netz also applies permanent makeup to clients whose hands shake from Parkinson's disease or arthritis and to clients who find makeup application painful or simply don't see as well as they used to.

She also puts some natural-looking colors into prosthetic areoles after reconstructive surgery following breast cancer.

Four years ago, the Food and Drug Administration sent out a notice that it had gotten about 50 complaints from people who had reactions from a permanent makeup dye, but for the most part, safety has not been an issue.

The company making the dye recalled it, and Netz only uses dyes that stay stable and don't change chemically under the skin.

After about an hour of scratching, Goldman held up the pink mirror on her lap to inspect the color on her lips. Although she didn't complain of pain through the procedure, they looked a bit swollen, as if she had gotten a collagen implant.

Netz assured her the swelling would disappear in about a week.

"Food that is salty will cause the color to come off," she said, warning Goldman to avoid potato chips during the week of healing.

As time goes by, sun exposure, certain medications and exfoliation products cause the "permanent" makeup to fade as well.

"I love it already," Goldman said, and she went off for an after-spa beauty rest.

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