Having your eyebrows and lips permanently tattooed through a process of micropigmentation or cosmetic tattooing is now commonplace. As is cosmetic tattooing to address stretch marks and scars. Permanent makeup has changed the cosmetic industry, and while incredibly advanced techniques are being used by permanent makeup artists around the globe, the practice actually has an interesting history dating back centuries. Here’s a look at the evolution of permanent makeup. 

What Is Permanent Makeup?

Just to get everyone on the same page, permanent makeup involves applying pigmentation into the skin’s dermal layer using a needle to enhance the natural appearance, or to reduce the appearance of certain skin conditions such as vitiligo, alopecia, stretch marks, or scars. 

How Permanent Makeup Has Evolved

Like so many cosmetic procedures, the origins of permanent makeup extend back generations with evidence of tattooing dating back to ancient civilisations. In fact, tattoos were found on a mummy in the Alps, named Ötzi, with this prehistoric figure dating back some 12 000 years. Ancient Egyptian civilisations used pigments for cosmetic and ritualistic purposes, while indigenous cultures have practiced body modification using pigments for centuries. Indigenous tribes in North and South America used natural pigments to create facial and body tattoos for cultural and spiritual significance.

George Burchett: The King of Tattooists

It was in the early 20th century that tattooing became fairly mainstream in the Western world, largely attributed to the techniques of one man, George Burchett. Born on 23 August 1872 in the United Kingdom, he became interested in tattooing from an early age after watching inked performers and tattooists at the Royal Aquarium in London. George was even expelled from school for practicing his technique on his schoolmates, finally enlisting in the Royal Navy where he became inspired by native tattoos while traveling to the West Indies, Africa, India, the Mediterranean and the Far East.

George eventually went on to set up his own tattoo parlor, initially gaining popularity among sailors and dock workers. Upon moving to Waterloo Road in the city center, his business increased with soldiers heading to the frontline to get tattoos before the journey. His client list eventually grew to include King Frederick IX of Denmark, King George V, and King Alfonso XIII of Spain.

But what has all this got to do with permanent makeup? Well, George actually learned and honed the technique of permanent makeup, having learned from another tattoo artist, Sutherland MacDonald who first performed it in 1902. It was in the 1930s that George extended his service to include cosmetic tattooing. Using his skilful tattooing technique, George would enhance facial features for men and women, with clients traveling from all over Europe to have their complexions lightened, their cheeks and lips tinted, permanent eyebrows tattooed, and beauty spots added.

Permanent Makeup In The 70s, 80s, And 90s

The practice of cosmetic tattooing seemed to disappear sometime, whether it just lost popularity or was a cost or risk factor, it’s not clear. However, in the 1970s, tattoo studios started offering a cosmetic service that restored the appearance of eyebrows for people who suffered from alopecia – a condition that results in hair loss. 

In the 1980s, permanent makeup started becoming popular once again, and for the next couple of decades, makeup artists essentially used the same technique for all features, be it lips, eyebrows, or eyes. This was a solid color application using a carbon-based pigment like the one found in traditional tattooing. The solid color was not only unnatural, but it also looked a lot worse when the pigment faded and often changed from black to green. The technique for eyebrows was also a solid, thin line as was popular at the time. In the early 90s, there were some advancements made with electrical rotary devices used to apply makeup with disposable and sterilized parts. 

history of permanent makeup

Permanent Makeup Advancements 

Since the early 90s, there have been significant advancements in permanent makeup tools, techniques, and regulations. Here are some of the modern advancements: 

Safety and regulation: The risks associated with permanent makeup procedures when not performed by trained professionals can be long-lasting, which is why the industry became a lot more regulated. Many countries have now established standards and regulations that ensure safe practices for the protection of all parties. There are also licensing and certification programmes that can only be attained with the required skills and industry knowledge. 

New tools: The permanent makeup tools and pigments have evolved substantially, with machinery like digital machines, and the Organic Permanent Makeup machine with disposable needles specifically for this trade. Ink pigments, once metal-based, are now organic inks that come in a range of shades, are quickly absorbed by the skin, don’t change color, and have no harmful chemicals. 

New techniques: Permanent makeup techniques are no longer uniform across the sector, there are now ever-evolving techniques that ensure the finished effect is much more natural. Advanced stretch mark camouflage matches the skin tone to effectively conceal unwanted blemishes while microblading for eyebrows, eyeliner tattooing, lip blush, and lip neutralization all create a natural yet enhanced appearance. Permanent makeup artists are also able to customize treatments for the particular client they’re seeing. They also offer touch-up services to increase the longevity of the treatment at a lower cost. 

Modern Permanent Makeup Applications

Here’s a look at some of the cosmetic tattoo procedures that you could consider:

  • Advanced Stretch Mark Treatment
  • Scar or Stretch Mark Camouflage
  • Lip Blush or Lip Neutralization
  • Nano or Ombré Brows
  • 3D Areola Repigmentation
  • Advanced Skin Needling
  • Scar Lightening
  • Under-Eye Lightening

When it comes to permanent makeup options in Washington, BeautyInk By LeAnne should be your first stop. With extensive experience in the industry and incorporating the latest techniques for the most natural look, BeautyInk By LeAnne offers the best treatment available. Whether you’re looking to enhance your natural features or address stretch marks or scars, then contact BeautyInk By LeAnne for a consultation and customized treatment. 

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