Permanent Make-up, as a segment of the beauty industry, is at nascent stage. However, it looks promising as women across age groups are keen on ‘waking up and looking beautiful everyday!’ Salon India delves deep and shares the views of experts on the complete ‘solution’
If statistics are to be believed, today, permanent make-up is a reality and a budding segment of the beauty industry. Tracing the history of permanent make-up, we learn that it has its roots in the life and time of Queen Cleopatra. While the term includes the term ‘make-up’, which technically makes it a part of the salon industry, in reality, permanent make-up is yet to foray into the list of services being offered at a salon. In India, the segment still remains confined to experts and medical professionals and in a way, rightly so. Permanent make-up is not just about ‘make-up’, but a whole lot more.
Technically explaining, permanent make-up is a cosmetic technique which employs tattoos, that is, permanent pigmentation of the dermis. It is commonly known as dermapigmentation, micropigmentation and cosmetic tattooing. The scope includes doing up the eyebrows, tattooing an eyeliner on the eyelid, beauty spot, lip liner and lip colour. Where women and men indulge in permanent make-up to have a perfectly beautiful face without the need to have an everyday touch-up, the scope of permanent makeup has widened with its use in producing artificial eyebrows and also enhancing the breast’s areola in patients who have undergone chemotherapy due to breast cancer and breast surgery.
Understanding the art
Sharing the scope of permanent make-up, Dr Mohan Thomas, Chief Surgeon and Medical Director of The Cosmetic Surgery Institute Private Limited says, “Permanent make-up is a cosmetic technique which employs tattoos (permanent pigmentation of the dermis) as a means of producing designs that resemble make-up, such as eye lining and other permanent enhancing colours to the skin of the face, lips and eyelids by rendering definition to the eyebrows, eyelids and lips with the use of colour. The end result will imitate topically applied cosmetics or can be quite unnoticeable, depending on the design and amount of pigment used. It is also used to produce artifi cial eyebrows, particularly in people who have lost them as a consequence of old age, disease, such as alopecia totalis, chemotherapy, or a genetic disturbance, and to disguise scars and white spots in the skin such as in vitiligo. It is also used to restore or enhance the breast’s areola, such as after breast surgery.”
Vinu Kriplani from Vinu’s Hair and Skincare adds the medical aspect related to permanent make-up. She says, “In recent years, permanent colour techniques are being widely performed for camouflage therapy, such as, creating pigmentation for the areola and nipple restoration, vitiligo, hypopigmentation and hairline scars.”
Kriplani’s foray into this genre of permanent and semipermanent make-up began about two decades ago when at the Beauty Congress held in Basel, she came across a German company by the name Long Time Liner. Since then, Kriplani has been serving her clients with semi-permanent make-up solutions offered by Long-Time-Liner. Kriplani began her India journey about a decade ago with experiences from Oman and Canada to back upon. For her, it is semi permanent make-up that works better than permanent make-up as, “What do you do when you have undergone permanent makeup and then you do not like it? Also, facial features change.”
Kriplani undertakes a lot many procedures to correct permanent make-up undertaken by her clients who either want a change in the way the procedure is done by their earlier skin expert or are looking at being in sync with the current trends and colours. An important aspect that needs to be told to the client opting for permanent make-up is the effect post treatment.
According to Dr Thomas, the result of permanent make-up may look darker. This could be due to the colour remaining in the outermost layers of the skin. This colour softens within a few days during the healing process as the upper layers of epidermis slough and is replaced by new epidermal cells. A foremost question that would come to mind would be abut the longevity of permanent make-up. Dr Thomas explains, “A good procedure will last for many years and may begin to fade over time. While the permanent make-up pigment remains the dermis, its beauty span may be influenced by several factors. These can be environmental, procedural or various individual factors. For instance, sun exposure fades the colour. Very natural-looking applications are likely to require more touch-ups than more dramatic ones.”
Permanent make-up in India: The early days
The credit of introducing permanent make-up in India goes to Bharati Taneja who runs Alps Beauty Clinics in North India. Where the history of permanent make-up across the globe is old, in India it made a rather late entry. Taneja shares the early days, “I would like to share an incident – a long time ago, while I was studying Beauty and Makeup in Bangkok, I saw my teacher used to sport permanent make-up. Her eyes were so magnifi ent and the eye make-up applied was so intense and dark. This made me enquire about the brand she used. Upon asking, I got an answer that left me utterly shocked! The answer was Permanent Make-up. I was so intrigued by the idea of this ‘non-washable’ makeup that I decided to introduce it in India very soon. In 1990, the people of India came to know about this unique concepts and the rest, as they say, is history.”
To hear it from another prominent industry veteran, Dr Jamuna Pai recounts her earliest experience and how she dealt with the apprehensions of people. She shares, “When I introduced this treatment in India, way back in 1994, people were not very open to it. The term ‘permanent make-up’ appealed to a lot of clients, but it was a misnomer too. Clients thought that one visit to me for the treatment and their needs would be taken care of for life. I had to explain to them that they may require a few visits to get the desired outcome as I believe in the less is more approach and do it gradually. Then another obstacle was the apprehension about the outcome, the pain, the risk of allergies and more. As with all other treatments, I did this on myself and showed them the result. I did it on my staff to maintain an album of before-after pictures to document the changes. This way slowly, people dropped their apprehensions and started to get the treatment done. Today in all my five clinics, it is a very popular treatment.”
Gunjan Gaur who is a name most often associated with permanent make-up and is the Executive Director for Alps Beauty Clinic accentuates on the misconceptions that people harbour in their minds. “The only and major challenge was, and is, to first, explain the concept of permanent make-up.
There are so many who think that a permanent eyebrow session will grow new hair strands on their brows, which is not at all true. What we actually do is, we make the eyebrows appear darker and more defined by inserting colour pigments on the skin. So, people in India still need to understand the real concept of permanent makeup and then go about getting it.” According to her, pricing for permanent make-up is nominal and that has never proved to be an issue for its acceptance.
Issues and challenges
The application and use of permanent make-up to enhance one’s looks is catching the fancy of women across ages, but unfortunately there is a dearth of experts who offer well tattooed eyebrows, eyeliners, lip colours, lip liners and beauty spots. The scope of permanent make-up is restricted either to experts who specialise in permanent make-up or cosmetologists and skin experts.
The penetration of this service, or rather ‘art’, has a long way to go in the country. The reason could be attributed to two things – lack of awareness of the procedure and price and secondly, within India, there are literally no institutes imparting training on permanent make-up nor are there any brands or distributors who deal with tools, equipments, dyes and colours needed for permanent make-up. Aptly reiterating the reason shared above, Dr Deepali Bhardwaj from Dr Deepali’s Skin and Hair Clinic explains, “I feel no single good tattooing machine and colour is being distributed in India. Due to this very problem, I have stopped doing this procedure. It is not feasible to travel to international locations to gets the colour kits. Secondly, the colours dry up very soon, hence, the replenishment rate is veryhigh, which means there is a constant requirement of colours and dyes.”
According to Dr Bhardwaj, for effective permanent make-up, one needs tools with an electronic drill and controlled depth needles, which are not available in India and the ones that are, according to her, “leave a tattoo of irregular depth and this affects the consistencyof colour and due to the Tyndall effect. Eyebrows can soon have a blue hue instead of black or brown and lips may also show various shades of pink and red at certain places. This is literally experimenting with the client’s face!”
Elaborating on the challenges that the industry faces, Dr Thomas, too, talks about the issues related to availability of tools and colours and also that of trained manpower. He elucidates, “The initial roadblocks faced included getting the right person who was very well trained in carrying out the procedures as per international standards. The dyes used for the tattoo had to be sourced from the western countries as they had to be organic. These dyes are non or minimally allergenic and are mixed and matched to get the right colour. Getting the right colour dye is also very important and we had to get customised colours so that they could be used on Indian skin.” While these are technical challenges being faced by the industry, the issue of ‘acceptability’, too, looms large.
Dr Thomas rightly points out, “The most difficult part was to allay the fear people had about tattoos, and hence, we first started focussing on reconstructive procedures like areola recreation and vitiligo treatment. Once people saw great results with these procedures, it was easy to coax others for aesthetic improvements.”
Celebrity make-up artist Cherag Bambboat has been indulging in permanent makeup for about four years now. For him, the journey began when he was in California to attend a training workshop for make-up. To learn more about permanent make-up, he enrolled in an extensive permanent make-up training course in one of the oldest universities of permanent make-up in the world, the International Institute of Permanent Cosmetics. Bambboat’s challenge on return was to get models to make people believe in the procedures and miracles of permanent make-up.
Considering there is no Indian company that manufacturers colours and dyes for permanent make-up in India, the industry here is dependent on what is manufactured and available internationally. This may or may not be in accordance to Indian skin. Dr Pai shares the perils she faced, “I did my initial training of permanent make-up in London. I brought the machine and the pigment with me to be able to initiate this treatment in India. To my dismay, I realised that the pigment that gave wonderful results on Caucasian skin, turned blue or green after a while. This was not acceptable by either me or my clients. I had to use the machine from one company, pigment from another to get the desired outcome. I also had to try mixing two or three colours for it to look natural on our skin shade.”
Reaching out to people
It is not easy to convince someone to walk in for a permanent make-up procedure to enhance the eyebrows or add a beauty spot. The apprehension that one would have against anything related to ‘permanent’ is quite big as it denotes ‘irreversible’. The most effective tool here would be word of mouth publicity. Gaur explains, “I would say word of mouth publicity, at the foremost, has been very effective. People who walked out after their sessions, highly and definitely recommended to their own people, as they themselves were quite satisfied with the results. Moreover, various leading news channels have also been a key to make the people of India more aware about the revolution called Permanent Make-up Solutions.”
According to Gaur, we still have a long way to go, as people in India are still sceptical about it. She points out, “Most of them either fear experimenting by availing any such service or do not want to ‘mess-up’ with their natural features.” One would think that makeup largely remains the domain of women, hence, it is out of question that permanent makeup will find any takers from men. But having said that, the procedure is finding interest from a small percentage of men who have undergone treatment for leucoderma. Gaur shares, “The percentage is very less due to the rough and tough image of the Indian men who hardly care about their looks.
So much so that they even ignore their monthly grooming sessions, what to talk about permanent make-up solutions. The only male clients we have entertained till now are the patients of leucoderma patches who wanted to camoufl age their white marks.”
Kriplani aptly points out that this segment is at a very nascent stage, as of now, but it looks promising as women across age groups are keen on ‘waking up and looking beautiful everyday!’ Where eyebrow procedures score a maximum, eyeliner, both at the top and bottom, is catching momentum. According to Kriplani, lip liner and lip colour is the last on this list. The roadblock that this industry can face in its expansion phase is related to the dearth of trained experts to carry forward the procedures and also that of availability of good quality equipments, tools and colours from within India. The importing cost is not always feasible and this has been discouraging the growth and spread of this industry in India. The selfie culture in India can contribute a lot towards the spread of permanent make-up in India, but that is provided we overcome the challenges of man and machine needed to take this forward.