Can permanent makeup be removed?
In short, maybe…
Like regular tattoos, (semi) permanent makeup is meant to last a long time and is expensive and hard to remove. Permanent makeup is a type of tattoo, just not as deep and usually using different pigment.
If you have had a bad experience with your permanent makeup treatment due to an inexperienced technician, or it just wasn’t what you were hoping for and simply hate the way it looks, you have several options for having your permanent makeup removed.
Salt and Saline Solution Permanent Makeup Removal
The Salt & Saline tattoo Removal procedure is a more safe, simple and natural method suitable for all skin types 1-6 on tattoos and semi-permanent makeup both old and new. The skin gradually lightens until left clear of ink, ensuring you’ll forget the permanent makeup ink was ever there. Firstly, the saline solution is inserted into the top layer of the skin which opens the skin up. A salt paste is then applied which pulls the ink upwards to the top layer using osmosis. The skin then will scab over when healing. The scab will contain the ink and the skin heals and fades over time. You normally need a minimum of 3 sessions over time but may require a lot more –every tattoo is different. It is generally quite successful in removing eyebrow tattoos. Where dark or black ink has been used, a complete removal can’t be guaranteed.
Topical lotions for Permanent Makeup Removal
There is little evidence that tattoo removal creams actually remove tattoos or permanent makeup. These topical lotions claim to remove tattoos by bleaching or peeling away the epidermis. Most products indeed only claim to help fade them rather than remove them completely. Keep in mind that theses creams can also cause burning and scarring to the skin due to harsh chemical content such as trichloroacetic acid.
Laser Tattoo Permanent Makeup Removal
You should find someone who is at least Level 4 trained in the user of lasers for the purpose of laser tattoo removal or laser permanent makeup removal. There is also a difference in results between machines and the settings a technician uses. Don’t be fooled by false advertising about Picosecond lasers working better then Q-Switch Nd:YAG. There is actually no clinical evidence of any difference in results. The laser is a given wavelength which targets the ink in the skin – it can reach lower layers of the skin in a session compared to say Salt & Saline. The laser breaks up the ink into tiny pieces and the body then takes it away with the natural waste system. Drinking lots of water helps flush it out. The skin can get very hot, sometimes can bleed and blister and you have to wait normally at least 6 weeks for the skin to heal before you can have another session. And it is painful. You can get numbing cream however which will take the edge off the pain. It has been described as hot fat hitting your skin (like when you are frying food and it splits out at you). The good news is that it is a quick treatment and is very effective at removing pigment in the skin, for permanent makeup and regular tattoos. A technician can’t tell you how many sessions you will need – there are too many variables involved such as immune system, age of the tattoo, the ink used, lotions used etc. You will be given an estimate based on averages only. Note than in very rare cases, laser doesn’t work on tattoos. This is normally down to the ink used. Don’t expect to find many laser technicians who can remove permanent eyeliner though – this is very risky as the laser could blind you. For eyebrows and lipliner / lipstick removal, laser tattoo removal is great. Be prepared to have scabbing though whilst the skin heals. A downside is that laser tattoo removal isn’t suitable for darker skin types as the laser can cause hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation (darker or lighter skin in the area treated). For darker skin types, microneedling or salt and saline might be an option.
Microneedling for tattoo removal or permanent makeup removal
If you have darker skin (types 5-6) then this might be a good option for you. As explained above, laser can cause skin colouration issues on darker skin types. What microneedling does it insert multiple tiny needles into the skin about 3mm deep and break up the ink. It may cause a bit of bleeding also which helps push the ink out to the top layer of the skin. It sounds painful but it really isn’t. Microneedling is also great to help with scarring. It is more popularly used as a treatment for scar relaxation and face rejuvenation. Microneedling can also be used in conjunction with laser to help with any scarring that may have occurred (due to picking scabs as an example) and also to remove stubborn ink colours (green, yellow, white) that are harder to remove with laser.
Dermabrasion Tattoo Removal
This is essentially sanding the skins layers off to get to the ink layers. This is both painful and can cause scarring more easily due to the damage to the skin.
Surgical Excision Tattoo Removal
The ink is cut out using a scalpel. The skin is then sutured back in place. This usually causes scarring at the incision lines and is also costly. This wouldn’t really be recommended for facial permanent makeup removal due to scarring.
With any option for permanent makeup removal (or tattoo removal), it isn’t possible to say what the outcome will be due to too many factors being involved. There is no quick fix and it will probably cost you more to remove than it cost you to get done in the first place. So think carefully before you get (semi) permanent makeup as it is meant to last. Do your research on finding a qualified and experienced technician. Ask to see before and after photos and verify it is their own work. This is one treatment you don’t want to be looking for a “bargain” on!