Permanent makeup: the good and the bad

Permanent makeup is achieved by injecting ink into the dermis.
Permanent makeup is achieved by injecting ink into the dermis.

Permanent makeup or micropigmentation is a cosmetic procedure involving tattoos (applying pigmentation into the dermis) to get a desired effect.

People may decide on permanent makeup as a result of alopecia (hair loss from the scalp or body) or vitiligo (blotchy loss of skin colour).

Essentially a medical procedure

Others may simply do it as a fashion statement. Your reason may influence the shape and colour of the makeup. You might for example want thicker-looking eyebrows or darker-looking lips or eyeliner.

A Health24 article previously reported that tattoos – including permanent makeup – are essentially a medical procedure as the needle penetrates the skin and injects ink into the dermis (the second, deeper layer under the epidermis).

But before you make any final decisions, consider the pros and cons:


  • It will never wash off. As the name implies, this makeup is permanent, which means you’ll never waste time again putting on makeup.
  • It's perfectly placed (or tattooed) so you'll never have to worry about uneven eyeliner or lipliner again – but make sure you use a trained professional. Permanent cosmetic professionals should be registered with the Professional Cosmetic Association of South Africa (PCASA).
  • It protects you from possible makeup allergies, as some products can be harmful to your skin, especially if used incorrectly. A recent survey showed that women don’t always check if the makeup brand they’re using is the right one for their skin.


  • Infection: Unsterilised equipment and needles could lead to infections such as HIV, hepatitis and staph infections (Staphylococcus aureus).
  • Granulomas: These are nodules that may form around foreign particles in the body, such as the particles in the ink/pigment used in permanent makeup.
  • Removal: The effects are permanent and can only be removed by laser. It may even cost more to have the permanent makeup removed than having it done initially.
  • Allergic reactions: People may develop allergic reactions to the tattoos.
  • Fading over time: Much like other tattoos, it may fade, requiring touch-ups to maintain the desired look.
  • You may get undesired results: As much as permanent makeup may save you time, the result might not be quite what you wanted. 
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