An expert’s guide to permanent make-up

Rebecca Hutchinson, co-owner and advanced permanent make-up artist at Lash Noir Ink, explains the until-now daunting process of permanent make-up.

Lip tattooing, along with its cousins permanent eyeliner and brow tattooing, isn’t completely new, but the latest methods have taken the art to a new level. Take Auckland’s Lash Noir Ink, with its Nano Lip Contour treatment. Rather than the harsh lip-liner look of the 90s, this treatment, adopted from Europe, promises a more natural result, great for those wanting definition, a soft flush of colour and the appearance of larger lips.

What does the Nano Lip Contour treatment entail?

Using different configurations of super-fine needles, we tattoo using an intelligent machine to implant colour into the top layers of skin for subtle definition.

How is it different from traditional lip tattooing?

Rather than artificial, block-like colours, we focus on creating nude and naturally flushed-looking lips, using colour in certain areas to enhance the shape of your lips. A little tweak in shape here and there can be a game-changer, although unlike traditional tattoos we don’t go outside the vermillion border, which is the little edge around the lips. We use a fine tip designed for lips and layer on your colour over two sessions. The result is like a tinted lip balm.

How is it done?

We numb the lips to ensure a super-comfortable treatment, then test shades and discuss any concerns about your natural lip colour and shape, before doing a pencil design. After confirming the design, we move on to defining the edge of the lip with a single nano needle, which gives us a fine guideline to work to, and avoids an obvious lip-liner effect. From there, we do all of the shading and shape-enhancing with a softer, wide-configuration needle, which spreads the colour lightly and ensures there are no seams or lines. There are several different patterns we use this step to create different effects, such as a plumper bottom lip or a shapelier cupid’s bow. All up, a session takes about two hours.

What kind of ink do you use?

We use Nouveau contour pigments in every single shade of pink coral and nude under the sun. We love this range for its diversity and longevity, and they fade really evenly, too. The pigments don’t leave colour residue long term, and allow our clients to change their mind about the shade and the treatment.

How many sessions does it take to complete?

Two or three are usually required. The first session is generally about getting the shape and base laid down. The second session is mostly about perfection and blending. Sometimes a third is needed, especially when a client is seeking an undetectable result.

What can we expect after the treatment?

For the first five hours, clients usually experience some degree of swelling, but it returns to normal quickly. For five days after treatment, you’ll need to apply a healing cream that reduces colour loss and stops the tattoo flaking off. Your lips will feel tight for a few days, and you may experience dryness.

How long do results last?

I’d expect 10-14 months. I recommend a yearly top-up.

Are there any skin tones you can’t treat?

The only effect we can’t create is one lighter than a client’s natural lips. It’s not a service we provide, as white iron oxide, which is present in pastel shades, stays in the skin forever.

Does it hurt?

It doesn’t. At the very worst, it’s a tiny bit scratchy towards the end. We always err on the side of caution and nothing that we create in the first session can’t be changed.

Expect to pay: $690 for two sessions.

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