Dispelling the myths of permanent make-up – My journey.

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Dispelling the myths of permanent make-up – My journey.


It’s no secret that I have had a love-hate relationship with my eyebrows since about the age of 18. I blogged about it last year here before when I was starting to reach the end of my tether and desperately looking for a new solution. Well, I eventually found it and although it took me a very long time to decide to do it, because of some very old and outdated myths that I was confusing with the very modern and more natural new alternatives, I am now ecstatically happy that I did and only wish I had done it sooner.

I was very lucky enough to be introduced to Elmarie Opperman, a Permanent Make-up artist in Somerset West Cape Town.  Elmarie is a permanent make up artist with 11 years experience in the industry. Her Salon called Permanent Make-up by perfection is based not far from my home, and so I grabbed the opportunity to chat to Elmarie about what my options were and on her advice, we opted for not only my now amazing Micro bladed eyebrows but eyeliner as well. I had in the past never entertained the idea of having eyeliner done because the thought quite honestly made me very scared, but after chatting to Elmarie and finding out all the ins and outs I was quite happy to be put into her excellent and capable hands and have that done too. I am naturally very fair with blond brows and eyelashes and I have always had to wear eyeliner to define my eyes or they sort of disappear into my face and so having not to do that everyday was very appealing.  I was just a little hung up on some of the nasty old myths I had heard, and had not been able to shake the fear until I spoke to her.

Before I start dispelling the myths I mentioned above, I need to state a few very important things.  Although referred to as Permanent Make-Up both the micro blading and eyeliner are actually semi-permanent and will last similarly but not exactly the same amount of time from person to person and dependent on a few factors i.e how well it is looked after during the healing time and then how you treat it before the next visit as well as through the lifetime of the treatment. It will eventually probably need a touch-up to keep it looking fresh. Don’t worry though it doesn’t happen too quickly and can vary from up to 18 months with the brows and anything from 5-7 years with the eye-liner.  I also want to state that it really is imperative to go for the follow-up visit and touch-up after your first session to get the best results, this is usually about 6 weeks after the first treatment and healing period. Please also note that everybody reacts differently and levels of discomfort, swelling and time of healing may vary from person to person. If you are at all unsure, schedule a pre-consultation to make sure it is what you want to do.  Always view the therapists past work and ask for referrals if you can.

Firstly, you might be asking, Why would I want to do it?

Right after my brow and liner touch up session. See the natural hair stroke?

Many career women are choosing permanent make-up to shorten their morning routines, I can certainly attest to the brows and eyeliner knocking off a full 20 minutes off my makeup time in the morning and now I am spending a whole lot less on brow products and liners.  On Weekends all I do now is slap on a CC cream and some mascara and lipgloss and I am ready. I could not have asked for anything better. Another huge benefit for me who wears glasses and is half bat blind is that I don’t have to worry about getting eyeliner or brows on straight.  It is perfect for people who cannot see without glasses and still want great makeup. Having permanent makeup done isn’t always done due to vanity and for time-saving reasons.  Sometimes it is done to simply make women who have been faced with debilitating illnesses and diseases, that due to treatment and medications have left them without their once loved brows or lashes and it is often something that women suffering from the illness Alopecia opt for which gives them the beautiful natural looking brows they have always longed for.  I mean how much more worthwhile could it be if it was just used for that purpose alone?

If you are a very sporty person who likes to wear makeup but struggles with sweating it off, then permanent makeup is for you and if you like to spend a lot of time at the beach or at the pool in summer but feel odd wearing any makeup and swim it all off when you go into the water then this is absolutely right up your alley.

Having your brows done opens up your face and makes you look much younger, it gives great space to apply lovely eye makeup and it natural looking and very convenient.

Permanent makeup is reasonably priced although many people feel it is expensive. Think about it this way if you have your eyeliner done for roughly R1900 which is all you will spend and you only have to have it refreshed in 5 or 7 years is about what people spend for two visits to a hairdresser a year for full treatment. Some people go every 6 weeks and don’t complain. You won’t have to buy eye pencils or brow products and so you save money in the long run.

All therapist have different rates but Elmarie at Permanent Makeup by perfection charges R1200 for the first session of micro blading and then R1000 for the touch up in 4 weeks. Eyeliner is R1000 for the first visit and R900 for the touchup.

The first appointment should be roughly 2 hours long and this includes lots of chit chat, discussion about the shape and color and anything else that may pop up.  Your touch up is shorter and the bulk of the work is already done.

One thing to remember before embarking on having this done is that it is not 100% maintenance free. You will still need to have your brows shaped and neatened as time goes by like you would any other month and if you are fair like me and have opted for a brown shade brow, you will need to still include tinting into your monthly regime or it will look weird with the lighter hair sitting on top of the brow strokes. If you still would like to use a little brow mascara between tinting sessions you can do this too. Tint doesn’t take well on my brows and so I opt for this method and it works great. If you have had eyeliner done and want a bolder look for a smokey eye, for instance, you can always thicken up your line and wing it out with a Liquid liner, it even makes that job much easier.

Before and after. This was taken on my first session.

And now for some myth busting!

1. Is it permanent Tattoo?

Well yes, it is Permanent makeup is considered micro pigmentation, similar to tattoos but the type of pigments, method of application and real permanency of the treatment is very different to the process of image tattooing on skin. Micropigmentation is the act of depositing small amounts on pigment into the uppermost superficial layers of the skin. There are different levels of permanence and depth of ink is dependent on the treatment you have selected. As mentioned above, you can expect your microblade or powder brows to last up to 18 months but fade over time like with anything that is exposed to light. Eyeliner lasts longer and some people report wearing theirs up to 7 years before having it re-done. When fading occurs and if high-quality pigments are used the fading should just settle to a lighter version of the original color, it should never go blue or green like in older technologies.

It’s a drawn on, unnatural looking, solid line.

The special tool and teeny blade used to make the brow strokes. The After Ink is the cream used during the healing time.


No, this may have been true with older technology, but with the more modern alternatives it simply is no longer the case. There are different levels of permanence and the depth of ink is dependent on the treatment you have selected. For instance, plain micro blading (The treatment I selected) is simply depositing hair stroke type deposits of color pigments into the very upper layer of the skin by means of a handheld penlike tool with a very sharp sterile blade attached. The only way I can possibly describe it is to think of it like many little papercuts that leave behind a little bit of color. This is an easy and natural looking way to enhance your brows if you already have  brow hair but need shape and definition or fullness. There is no electronic device involved and it is minimally invasive  Powder brows are different. With the flat side of a blade attached to a digital machine, pigment is deposited in a little more of a solid yet soft and natural looking way. Afterward, fine hair strokes are applied with the blade over the powdered area to give the appearance of real hair for full natural brows. This is the ideal method for someone that has little to no brow hair for whatever reason, whether you plucked yours all out as a teenager, or have lost your brow hair due to medical reasons or treatment or were never blessed with much to begin with. Permanent makeup should never look like a drawn on or solid line done in random unnatural looking shapes. Any good therapist worth her salt should have a pre-consultation with a client to discuss color choice and shape. The brows are never ever shaved off beforehand, and the natural arch of the brow should be followed and additions made to sparse areas that need filling in to define to the most natural looking shape. Eyeliner is slightly different. The pigment for obvious

Eyeliner is slightly different. The pigment for obvious reasons, would be more solid and the therapist will suggest the most flattering liner thickness and color for you. Most therapists will suggest starting with less and building up to your desired thickness and color at the follow-up visit. It is also possible to just fill in the gaps with a find dotted line between your lashes to fill them in and make them appear fuller, this is supprisingly something I learned a lot of men are opting for.  It is also important to note that you should always choose the color for brows and liner based on your own natural hair colour shade. This will be the most flattering for you and have the most natural appearance. Your therapist should be trained is selecting and mixing the best shade for you.

It is very sore?

This shot was taken directly after Elmarie finished my first session of PMU. See no blood or no serious swelling.


Yes & No, I guess it really is all dependent on what kind of a pain threshold you have.  Most people however, myself included only experience very mild discomfort and little to or no swelling.  I will try and explain my exact experience for you below. It is also important to remember that topical anesthetic cream is applied beforehand as well as a number of times during the treatment and the therapist will never proceed if you are experiencing anything more than a little bit of mild discomfort.


This is how I experienced the micro blading or hair stroke brows. At first, the area is cleaned with make-up remover and dried. Then a topical anesthetic is applied and left to work it’s magic for about 20 minutes. As soon as the area is considered to be numb  the therapist will use a stencil to draw the shape of the soon to be new brows. The blade that is used is extremely thin and only the tiniest superficial cut is made when depositing the pigment to leave the look of a fine natural brow hair. In my own experience, this is what it felt like. The first pass of cuts burned quite a bit, think of how it feels when you get a paper cut. However, once that round was done and we are only talking a few minutes here, the therapist makes a second pass with more anesthetic and it all settles into the cuts and from there on out, you feel pretty much nothing. It certainly wasn’t painful at all, really only a little but uncomfortable. I believe the powder brows feels a little more like a light vibration or buzz over your skin but isn’t sore either.  After the brows are done and because so much anesthetic is used, you will not feel much there for a few hours until it starts to wear off.  For the rest of that day you will probably feel a little sensitive in the brow area or it may burn a little but Ice is your friend. By the next morning, you will feel your old self again. The therapist keeps the area clean throughout the procedure and there


I am going to try and explain how the eyeliner felt to me. I think that I need to say upfront that I was really scared. I honestly thought it would be extremely sore but it was no more uncomfortable than having dental work done and if you have given natural birth or had a C-section you can handle eyeliner. After cleaning, aesthetic, as well as eyedrops like Allergex are applied. Once the area is numbed sufficiently the therapist will start on the first pass of either the top or bottom lid.  The therapist is trained to hold the eyelid in the correct way and obviously you need to keep your eye open and be as still as possible during. There will be stops and starts in between so you can re-adjust yourself if necessary. To give you and idea though, when I had the first eye done, Elmarie asked me how long I thought she had been busy for when she was finishing the first eye’s top lid and I said something like “Half and hour” and she said, no, only 10 minutes, So it really is a very quick treatment, obviously it feels longer because you are having it done to you.

So how did the eyeliner feel? 

These are all items that are used for the eyeliner and powder brows.

Well as you would expect, the eye is a very sensitive area. I need to be clear that there was never any pain involved but the sensation I struggled with was a very “Irritating & scratchy, rather frustrating sensation. It’s a vibrational tool so you feel that type of sensation all through the procedure. Another side effect which may or may not be cool for you (Well for me it was cool because I struggle with my sinuses) is that working so close to the sinuses with a digital machine means that the sinus canals are shaken up so to speak and become loose so your nose runs a lot. It will be like this for a few days, so you can take something like Texa or Allergex if it bothers you.

Please bear in mind that people all experience pain differently all the time, and that was something I learned between my first and second visit. When I had my first treatment with both my brows and eyeliner I experienced very little in the way of discomfort and I certainly couldn’t call it pain.  Because I was going for a touch up the second time I didn’t expect to feel a thing but I was wrong.  While I still couldn’t class it as pain, it was a lot more uncomfortable with my eyeliner this time. There are two main reasons for this. The main reason being that essentially the tattoo is being re-applied over a newly “healed area” where the first treatment was done and secondly I experienced double I guess, of what anyone normally should, because and I only discovered later, that something as silly and inconceivable as the stage you are in your monthly cycle could influence how you experience pain or discomfort.  When I went for my first treatment I was somewhere in the middle of my cycle and my hormones were behaving. However, when I went for my second treatment I was 1 day off my period and I was a lot more aware of the sensation of having the eyeliner applied and this was all due to hormones. So if I have one bit of advice it is to schedule your treatment in the middle of your monthly cycle and not right at the start or end of the previous one.

Did you need painkillers & how much swelling was there?

This is how I looked directly after my touch up session. Not much redness or swelling at all.

Taking painkillers (Anti-inflammatories) is probably not going to be necessary for everybody but I just took them anyway. The eye area is mildly swollen for about 3 days and a little red.  I never experienced any bruising though and I am the first to bruise.  If you just prod me with your finger I go blue, so if there was going to be bruising, I should have had it. The  most important thing to do as soon as you get home is to keep ice packs on the eye area for as long as possible throughout the day.  This helps to alleviate the tenderness and swelling substantially. I would highly recommend doing this treatment either while you are on leave from work, or to take a day’s leave on a Friday and do it early in the morning so that by Monday your eyes are no longer swollen and red.

It takes a long time to heal!

Day 3 after my first session. The first time I could wear make-up. Brows are around 30% darker than they should be here.

This is not actually true. At the most, it will take 10 days to heal on the exterior.  I will try and explain the process below and how each stage looks.

Immediate afterward the eyebrows  will appear 30% darker and bolder than when they are healed. The skin will be red under the pigment too so that also causes it to look darker.  There is very little swelling and you can’t really see it because the eyebrow skin is already quite thick. It will go down very quickly. You may feel tender around the area but there will be no pain. After a few day’s any extra pigment will start to exfoliate away and the appearance will be trimmer. After a few days, the skin heals over and the pigment and the appearance will be a lot softer. From about day 3 the brow area will be a little itchy, do not scratch or pick at it or you will pick the pigment out before it heals over and you will have a gap. For a few day’s afterward there will be flakiness which starts from the outside edges.  You will be given a treatment cream to use daily while the healing is taking place.  This helps a lot to keep the scabbing and flaking as well as itchiness to a minimum. Towards the 5th or 6th day the appearance may be a little gray but don’t panic, the color will settle although ti will be much lighter than the end result that you will get when you have your second visit for your touch-up. There are set rules about how long to wait to wash your face with cleanser and you will only be allowed to wear make-up after the 3rd day.

The Eyeliner is a little different.  Immediately after and for the first day to two days your eyelids will be somewhat swollen and looks like you have been crying a lot. You will look like you have particularly heavy eye makeup on. By day 3 the swelling and tight feeling will lift as the pigment begins to come away from the skin. Around the 4th and 5th day there will be an itchy feeling and may feel like you are being pinched. That is normal as the skin begins to flake.  Don’t pick at or pull anything off.  It will clean away itself by blinking. Once healed and the swelling is gone, the lines will have settled into the natural lash line in the case of natural looking liner and will just define your eyes and once combined with your favorite mascara will look incredible. I honestly didn’t experience much in the way of flaking with my liner at all.  I was hardly aware of it. Once the swelling was down on day three, I almost forgot I had had it done at all because I wasn’t aware of it anymore. When you go for your touch up you can request a deepening of color or a bolder shape, I did this because we started out very thin as I am very fair and didn’t want it to be a massive shock.  I soon saw that it would be fine to thicken the top lashline up a little bit and it ended up looking great.

Is it Safe, can anybody do it?

Your therapist should take all your details and medical history and you should sign a disclaimer before any work is done.


If proper sterilization and disinfection guidelines are stuck to by the therapist, permanent cosmetics should be completely safe. A new needle is used for each client. Equipment and supplies are kept in a hygienic and sanitary way. Gloves are worn during each procedure and changed often. Medical problems associated with permanent cosmetics are often linked to poor attention to the required aftercare process by the client. You should choose a time for the treatment when you feel confident you can follow the simple, but very important aftercare instructions as this is all that is necessary for a great end result.

Like with lots of other things in life, it is not for everybody and not everybody is going to like the idea. Professional permanent cosmetic technicians require a client history profile be filled out to assess different factors that may contribute to your experience and to make sure that medically speaking you are a candidate to have the treatment you have selected. There may be certain medical histories that need to be taken into account before going ahead with any treatment.

I am sensitive to eye makeup, won’t I get a reaction?

Actually, I have been told and have read a number of times that some dermatologists are recommending permanent make-up to people that are sensitive to wearing make-up and who have very sensitive skins. It is very rare for someone to have an actual allergic reaction towards the pigments used.

So if I had a choice to do it again would I?

This is my best selfie. Taken today. This is roughly a month after second touch up. So happy with the result.

Yes, 100% yes. I would, and I kick myself over and over again for taking so long to do it in the first place.  My husband is even happy now because I take much less time to do my make-up and I don’t scream in fits of rage when I get my brows wrong just before I want to go out.


If you are in Cape Town you can find Elmarie at her Salon Permanent Make-up by perfection based in Somerset West . Visit her Facebook page to check out some of her other work too, she is simply amazing.  Elmarie also offers full lips and lipliner which is something I am not yet comfortable thinking about doing but apparently it is her forte and she says that some of her clients having that done often fall asleep while she is busy so it can’t be that bad!  You can call Elmarie on 0826610400 or by email at pretoriuselmari@yahoo.com

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Take care








Although I received no actual payment for this review, I did receive the Eye-Brow and Eyeliner treatment in exchange for the review. That being said, the review is exactly as I experienced it, and void of any untrue or biased statements in favor of the product/service. I really enjoyed the process and am 100% happy with the results.








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2 thoughts on “Dispelling the myths of permanent make-up – My journey.

  1. Wow! I think the end result looks great on you. I hardly wear eyeliner and my brows are the opposite of yours – too bushy at the best of times! I might go this route in the future though when my eyebrow hairs turn silver.

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