Best Face Forward (Part I)

Nothing is more local than one’s own face, right?

Just ask Earleen Bennet, owner of Asheville Permanent Makeup Clinic.

I first met Earleen when I visited The Secret Spa for a pedicure with friends. Earleen specializes in all sorts of cosmetic treatments, but I was especially interested in her take on permanent makeup. I’d heard of people having their makeup permanently tattooed, but it had always seemed too drastic, too odd, too potentially-disastrous-to-have-color-on-your-face-forever.

I’d also heard that “some of the minerals in tattoo ink may have magnetic properties that could potentially react with MRI technology to cause severe pain and burning sensations during an MRI procedure,” and that “having tattoos, especially facial tattoos, could potentially render an MRI too painful and dangerous to be performed.” Ouch! Freaky! Not for me!

The questions

But still…Earleen’s makeup looked really good. So good that I would never have guessed it was a tattoo–I had visions of Ripley’s “Lizard Man” (who also files his teeth down to points, which does nothing to enhance his looks, I must say) or maybe just electric-blue eyeliner permanently (and probably crookedly) affixed to eyelids. I repeat: Ouch! Freaky! Not for me!

But still…Earleen’s makeup looked really good. So I asked some questions: how does it work? How does it feel? What does it cost? What are the risks? Would having an MRI really cause my face to melt and burn like the unfortunate consequences of looking into the Ark of the Covenant (a la climactic scenes from “Raiders of the Lost Ark?”)?

The answers

Earleen had lots of answers: It works like the regular tattoo process, but instead of getting the ubiquitous tribal arm band or yet-another-aren’t-I-special-design to peek over the back of your low-riders, these tattoos subtly enhance your face–and no one needs to know your secret unless you decide to tell them.

Sidebar: I’ve never been a big advocate of tattoos, especially since they went mainstream and the Constitution practically guaranteed the rights of every college freshman to get one on Spring Break. I liked ’em better when they were curiosities on the withered arms of aging veterans, like my Great Uncle Fred. (He had a hula girl on his bicep, and he liked to roll up his sleeve and make her “dance” for us until Aunt Fanny yelled at him and made him quit.)

How does it feel? Pain is a common feature of most tattoos, and is considered part of the rite of passage: if you want it, you’ll be willing to endure it. But imagine that level of pain taking place on your face, for an hour or more. Earleen uses a topical numbing cream, which alleviates some of the discomfort and allows the patient to hold still while she makes tattoo magic. (Notice that I said “some” of the discomfort; we’ll come to that in the next post.)

What does it cost? It varies, depending on the treatment, and this is one case where you truly get what you pay for. Earleen has years of experience, a fantastic eye for color and style, a scrupulously clean process and facility, and she loves what she does. Would you rather trust your face to Earleen…or go for a discount at a cut-rate ink shop?

What are the risks? The same as any other tattoo (done in a reputable shop), meaning very few. Can you still have an MRI without looking like you spent the night in The House of Wax? Survey says: yes you can. MRI’s and tattoos can, and do, mix. Don’t let your outside ink stop you from getting your insides reviewed.

The process

The process starts with an initial consultation: how the process works, and what do you want your makeup to look like? Earleen explains what permanent makeup can–and can’t–do for you, and uses regular makeup to show you what the permanent makeup will look like. When you realize how skillful she is with creating and achieving a “look”, you begin to have fewer fears about winding up with ink on your face.

Earleen also has a huge portfolio of before and after photos of real people. It’s not all about vanity, either: Earleen specializes in both restoration (recreating lost color and shape) and camouflage (disguising excess color and scarring) that often accompany certain medical conditions or treatments. I just wanted darker eyebrows that didn’t need to be recreated every day, but some people have serious issues that Earleen can help resolve. Imagine having lost your eyebrows entirely to a condition like alopecia, or having facial discoloration that draws unwelcome attention, or wanting to look “like yourself” again after a mastectomy. Earleen can give you back what’s missing, or disguise  what may be an unwelcome addition. She can even correct for the less-skilled work that you had done somewhere else. She’s not just an artist, she’s a restorer of self-esteem.

Tomorrow: permanent makeup, step-by-step, from someone who dares to wear their tattoos right out on their face for *everyone* to see. Yep–that’s me! (No tribal armband, no cutesy hearts on my ankle; just putting my best face forward. Literally.)

One Comment Add yours

  1. Wow Jean, you are fabulous. Thanks for all the great comments….Just to let everyone know, I just opened a new larger facility in Asheville, and it’s truly the finest stand alone permanent makeup office in the area. It is located in a medical complex at 131 McDowell St in Asheville……Beautiful decor and a relaxing atmosphere. I am raising the bar on permanent makeup, it is an incredible service and deserves to be approached in a professional manner. I invite everyone to looka t my website for photos of the new office and learn what permanent makeup is all about.
    And thanks for all your comments, you are a fun and fabulous chick and I am thrilled that you are so satisfied with your permanent makeup…Come see me anytime!!!!

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