February 2013

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Color and Permanent Cosmetics

Adding permanent cosmetics to my practice was exciting. Little did I know all the color and technical challenges I would face.

I was enthusiastic about helping women find respite from spending time doing their makeup including something that wouldn't wash off in the shower.

As an artist, if someone handed me a beat up piece of canvas that was lumpy, bumpy, wrinkled or with worn spots, I would probably pitch it out and ask for another. Nevertheless clients routinely come in with all these issues and think it totally irrelevant to the end result they desire: brows that look and make them look as good as they did at 30.

Whether you are a permanent color technician, an esthetician, or cosmetologist, it is important to share some things with your client who is considering these services. Your input could be valuable in helping them have realistic expectations and results that make them happy.

Consideration 1: Skin. Most people don't look at their skin through a magnifying loupe where all imperfections show up. Check your client's skin looking for distended capillaries, rough patches, age spots, elastosis and thin skin over the temples.

A mini-series of skin treatments to enhance skin quality will help this client have a better outcome. Gentle exfoliants will eliminate rough buildups of skin and peptides will enhance skin quality. If you can help get their skin in shape, they will have a better procedure and result. Work to smooth the skin and eliminate rough patches.

As skin ages, capillaries distend toward the surface of the skin. These capillaries generate a red cast onto the skin. While blood flow tends to fluctuate during the day, brows tend to get cooler as we get older. Likewise the more mature lips are, the bluer they will appear. It would be a mistake for the client to request a very cool lip color because if the technician was not highly experienced or depends on the client for the color selection, the result could be too blue.

In every case there needs to be a warm element in the lip color to avoid the blueberry sauce effect. Likewise if the client insists on a brown lip color, they may end up looking like they have been sucking on a chocolate bar. The technician needs to be good at evaluating client skin/lip tones as well as how pigments they use behave, and take the client the direction they want to go without letting the result get away from them.

As hair frames the face so eyebrows frame the eye. The color shouldn't be too pale or they will look washed out, or too dark or they look harsh. Grey eyebrows do not add a youthful appearance; a taupe (greyed brown) is a better choice for clients with grey hair. If there is a lot of red to the skin in the brow area this must be taken into consideration as it will add a reddish element to the finished brow color.

Cosmetic makeup sits on the skin and hides what is underneath. Permanent cosmetics show through the skin and is affected by the color of the skin.

Skin thickness is also an issue. The temples typically get much thinner with age. The technician will need to make adjustments to deal with this but many factors including medications can exacerbate the issue and make the skin unpredictable. Unidentified patches may need professional evaluation. If a suspicious lesion is tattooed over any changes may become undetectable with potential medical repercussions.

Initially clients were under the misunderstanding that permanent cosmetic procedures were a one-time deal and never needed follow-up or re-enhancement. If they did, they thought it was something the technician was doing wrong. Now that tattooing is mainstream, clients understand that fading is a natural part of the tattoo process and that the blended colors used for makeup are more prone to this issue.

While lips can last five to 10 years before re-enhancement is needed, brows generally need refreshed every one to five years depending on client health issues, lifestyle, technique employed and the technician's skill with that technique and the color used. Rather like hair coloration, there are many variables that affect the outcome and longevity of the tattooed color.

Eyeliner has its own set of color issues. The best eyeliner colors are those that replicate the client's goal: dark, sooty lashes or a defined liner. Narrow or classical lines hold up the best long term. The technician must keep in mind that the canvas will be aging and what looks great on a 30 year old, may not be as flattering to a 50, 60 or 70 year old client. It is best to stay conservative in placement considering skin elastosis issues.

So if you have clients who are wanting permanent cosmetic procedures you can help them have the best result by selling them anti-aging products and skin improving procedures as well as helping them have realistic expectations with their color choices.

Judith Culp has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. She is the owner of NW Institute of Esthetics, Inc. and contributing editor for Miladys Standard Esthetics: Advanced and lead author of Esthetician's Guide to Client Safety & Wellness. For more information visit www.estheticsnw.com.