So, after all the numbing cream and the whir of the needle, my permanent makeup was finally said and done. I looked in the mirror and had to laugh–I had gorgeously shaped and colored eyebrows and looked like I was wearing eyeliner, but the areas that received numbing cream were swelled and white against the new color. (If you’ve ever had your eyebrows waxed, you know what this looked like.) There was also some puffiness, but it looked like I had a cold or allergies.* As the numbing cream wore off, I began to feel like I had a really bad sunburn around my eyes. My eyes were also slightly dilated from the numbing cream, so I was winking and blinking in the light. I can’t say I was an attractive specimen at that moment, but I had high hopes for the future!
The entire process, from arriving at Earleen’s office and being numbed, through all the inking, then time afterward for care instructions and general pulling-myself-together–took about two hours. Earleen gave me a care sheet and explained each step: I was to go home, put a cold (but not too wet) compress over my eyes and brows, and rest for a little while. I received an ointment (soothing and antibiotic) that I was to put on the new tattoos several times a day. The areas must be kept moist and clean–but you DON’T wash/scrub the area, or get any sort of chemical (saline solution for contacts or any hair color, etc.) near it.
FYI note here: peroxide reacts with the ink and can turn your tattoos purple–yikes! After a couple of days you should be able to shower normally (get your face wet without worries), but you still need to be careful of the tattoo. The areas will begin to get “crusty” (yucky, but that’s what happens) because, in fact, you’ve created skin that has to heal by scabbing over. Keep the scabby areas moist and clean–BUT NO PICKING OR SCRATCHING! Doesn’t matter how crusty/itchy it gets, don’t touch it! Picking at the crusty surface can cause an infection and/or remove some of the ink and make the tattooing uneven.
After about 4-5 days, the crustiness started flaking off of its own accord. I resisted picking at it (practically had to wear socks on my hands!) until it started curling up and falling off. After that, I helped a little, but the ink underneath was set and remained even. After a week, my new eyebrows and eyeliner seemed perfectly healed and no one could tell that I had done anything except give myself a fabulous new makeover. Which is exactly what I’d done, with a lot of help from Earleen Bennet at Asheville Permanent Makeup Clinic.
About a month later, I went back to Earleen for another session (included in the cost of the procedure) and she went over everything again, making little hairstrokes in my eyebrows (unbelievably natural looking!) and filling in any areas that might have received less ink. This is an important step, because you don’t want to get too much color in the beginning, and you want to be able to make any corrections after the skin has healed.**
The bottom line? This procedure, for me, equals some of the best money I ever spent and some of the best pain I ever endured. It was, and has been, absolutely worth what it cost. I can shower or swim and still have “a face.” I get the flu and can still look vaguely human. Every morning, I wake up with makeup!
I know it sounds strange to some people: why do you need makeup? Don’t you ever want to be without it? Well…no. I like having enough eyebrow color to show expression. I like having my eyes more defined. I feel more like myself, somehow, with this added color. I still have my original eyebrows and eyelashes, but now they’ve got some colorful company to help them show up. Most of the people that have questioned my motives have been those lucky folks with plenty of natural coloring (dark eyebrows and lashes) and no, they don’t need this service. In fact, they want to wax off some of their excess color, but I had none to spare.
Whatever you think of tattoos and needles and makeup and “vanity”, I have to say that permanent makeup–applied by a true master of the craft like Earleen Bennet–has done wonders for me. It may not be for you, but you have to admire an artist who can fearlessly wield a needle right at a customer’s eye and make that customer feel like they’re the lucky one. Thanks, Earleen–you gave me something I thought I could never have: exterior color that matches my interior view of how things should have been.*** You improved on nature, and you improved my nature in the bargain!
* I went to the grocery store the next day and didn’t scare anyone, so it must have been okay. I could have gone back to work, as well, but enjoyed having a couple of days off to recover at home.
** Permanent makeup eventually fades, just like any tattoo. I will need touch-ups over time, but I know what to expect.
*** At age 17, Earleen Bennett lost her own mother to breast cancer. She now works with breast cancer survivors to recreate what this terrible disease took from them, including eyebrows, the look of eyelashes, and creation/touch-up of breast areola following mastectomies and/or breast reconstruction.