A woman having eyelashes applied

If you’ve ever lined your lips at a red light or “put on your face” while bleary-eyed and coffee-deprived, you’ve probably thought: “There must be a better way.”

That ‘way’ may just be accessible through microblading, eyelash extensions and permanent makeup. But while constant cosmetics can look fabulous, there are some caveats to be mindful of says Miles Mahan, MD, a board certified physician at Skin Perfections Med Spa.

“Look back at your (or your parents’) high school photos. Beauty styles change,” he says. “Be cautious with anything that’s truly permanent— or you may live with regret.”

To help you decide, Dr. Mahan offers the low-down on the latest beauty enhancements.


What It Is: To fill in sparse eyebrows, aestheticians make fine hair-like cuts and then deposit iron oxide pigment in the grooves.

Pros: The result looks more natural than permanent tattooing techniques of the past.

Cons: The biggest concerns are infection and risk of hepatitis and HIV from unsanitized blades or needles, Dr. Mahan says. You’re at the mercy of who’s holding the knife. “If they make a mistake, it’ll never disappear completely.”

Who Offers It: Providers should be certified by the American Academy of Micropigmentation or Society of Permanent Makeup Professionals. Texas does not regulate this service, and often no doctor is on site. “You may want to observe the treatment being done before having it yourself,” Dr. Mahan says.

Time Factor: 45 minutes to an hour.

Healing Time: Skin irritation can last a week. You’ll need to use an ointment to keep skin clean and protect pigment. That’s also why you may have to avoid sweating or using makeup for up to 10 days.

Upkeep: You may require returning once monthly for retouching till you’ve achieved your desired results. And since the cuts are superficial—compared to traditional tattoos—you’ll need to be bladed every one to three years.

Cost: Reportedly $200-$500 in Houston.

Lash Extensions

What It Is: Hairs are glued to the end of your natural lashes to lengthen them.

Pros: No need for that daily swipe of mascara.

Cons: The skill of the makeup artist determines how natural and enduring the lashes are. Cleanliness is vital to avoid eye infections. Also the adhesive glue can irritate, Dr. Mahan says.

Who Offers It: Eyelash extension chains and makeup artists at beauty salons. You should only go to someone with a cosmetology license.

Time Factor: 30 minutes or longer.

Healing Time: Hopefully none, but up to 10 days, should eyes get inflamed.

Upkeep: Lashes usually last three to four weeks, though if they’re too heavy they may fall off in a day. They also last longer if you sleep face up.

Cost: Reportedly $50-$200, depending on location.

Eyelash Growth Serum

What It Is: A DIY way to grow more and longer lashes.

Pros: Many versions work well, and the daily wands that come with many formulas reduce the risk of eye infection.

Cons: Clumsiness can cost you: Repeated splatters may lead to hair growth on your cheek. Rarely, eyelids may become discolored, though this fades. Even more rarely, people with lighter-colored irises may have permanent changes in eye color.

Who Offers It: Dermatologists.

Time Factor: 1-2 minutes. Results are visible in about three weeks.

Healing Time: No downtime, unless your eye gets infected. Then you may need 7-10 days to clear the infection.

Upkeep: Once daily.

Cost: Under $200.

Permanent Makeup

What It Is: Eyebrows, eyeliner and lip liner can be tattooed on at a cosmetic tattoo parlor.

Pros: Cosmetic tattoos are great for individuals with poor eyesight, unsteady hands or hair loss.

Cons: This process is painful and the results are lasting, so if beauty trends change, you cannot. You’re also reliant on the artist’s skills, which is why you should seek providers who’ve been certified by the American Academy of Micropigmentation or Society of Permanent Makeup Professionals. Leave promptly if the technician does not wear gloves and use new, sterile needles. Dr. Mahan also advises against blush tattoos.

Risks: Deforming bumps (granulomas) or scars (keloids) can form. “Any mistakes are there to stay.” Not only is tattoo removal painful and costly, it’s also discouraged near eyes, as the lasers used incorrectly could blind, Dr. Mahan says.

Who Offers It: Tattoo parlors and cosmetic tattoo specialty salons.

Time Factor: Lips alone take an hour or longer. Multiple sessions may be needed.

Healing Time: Bruises and swelling may last up to three days around the eyes or one week for lips.

Upkeep: None, other than wearing sun protection to keep pigments from fading and to protect skin from sun damage.

Cost: Up to $400.

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