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The History of Permanent Cosmetics: Everything You Need to Know

Updated: Aug 13, 2023


The history of permanent cosmetics is quite interesting. As an aspiring artist or technician, you should want to learn about the origins of permanent makeup.

Generally, people associate permanent makeup with traditional body art tattoos and those unnatural-looking eyebrow tattoos. Part of this confusion is because of the path that permanent makeup has taken to reach where it is today.

As it turns out, permanent makeup has its roots in traditional tattooing. It’s also true that some of the results of this unique technique in the earlier days did not turn out to be perfect.

However, permanent makeup has come a long way since then.

Let’s dive right in to explore how it transformed from an emerging technology into a life changing treatment.

Where Did Permanent Makeup Originate?

There are many misconceptions and disagreements about the history of permanent cosmetics. Mummies from the pre-historic eras have been found with well-preserved body tattoos. Experts suggest that people from ancient times used tattoos for decorative and religious purposes. While some people believe that they also used tattoos to beautify themselves, much like makeup, others are certain that cosmetic enhancement with tattoos is a recent innovation.

Sutherland Macdonald, a famous tattoo artist from 1902, reported that he could tattoo women’s cheeks to give them a pink complexion that would last throughout the year. It is also believed that permanent makeup may have been used as a cosmetic treatment in the 1930s. People of that time probably did not have the idea that they were getting a “tattoo”.

How Permanent Makeup Evolved Over

the Years


Today, permanent makeup is seen as a beauty procedure that restores or enhances people’s features. If we delve into the history of permanent cosmetics, this concept may have started in the 1970s. During that time, this service was offered in tattoo studios. It was primarily used to restore the eyebrows of people with alopecia (a condition that causes the patient to lose their hair partially or entirely).

Permanent cosmetics started gaining popularity in the 1980s. This was when people witnessed the emergence of specialized salons and training programs for this niche.

In the early days of its popularity, permanent makeup did not look as subtle and natural as it does today. Nevertheless, the newness, convenience, and other benefits of this beauty treatment convinced people to try it. Many people got satisfactory results, after which the positive buzz about permanent makeup spread like wildfire.

In the 1980s and 1990s, permanent makeup artists used the same technique for all features. Whether they worked on the lips, eyebrows, or eyes, all features received a solid color application. One reason for this was that the pigments used for permanent cosmetics at that time were very much similar to the ink used for conventional tattooing, i.e., they were carbon-based.

While many people were happy with their permanent makeup results, some had to experience color fading, which ultimately resulted in an unnatural look.

Thankfully, advancements were made in the permanent makeup tools in the 1990s. In the early 90s, artists started using electrical rotary devices to efficiently implant permanent makeup into the skin. These devices came with disposable and sterilized parts. It took little time for the permanent cosmetic industry to adopt these tools. Even modern-day technicians use updated versions of these devices.

Modern Innovations in the Permanent Makeup Industry


Over the years, permanent cosmetic tools, techniques, and pigments have been innovated and customized to perform corrective and restorative work all over the body and enhance the natural beauty of people.

Technicians have come up with new techniques and devices to ensure permanent makeup results look as natural as possible. They adopted advanced techniques featuring gentle, hair-like strokes and custom-mixed pigments that don’t contain carbon. These minor adaptations ensure that the pigments don’t change to unnatural hues as they start fading.

Apart from this, permanent makeup artists and technicians started using thinner needles to ensure precision in their work. At the same time, they focused on performing permanent cosmetic procedures with the gentlest touch.

Today, permanent makeup is used to enhance facial features, including the eyes, eyebrows, and lips. The extent to which it alters the appearance depends on the design, color, and type of pigment injected into the skin.

Once the procedure is completed, the results may look too dark and bold. This happens because the pigment is still near the outermost layer of the skin. As the skin heals and the upper layers are replaced by new epidermal cells, the color starts fading and the client achieves the desired shade.

That being said, the latest techniques of permanent makeup don’t provide long-lasting results. People see it as a benefit because it allows them to adjust their appearance according to their latest style choices and preferences. This also makes it possible for permanent makeup artists to cater to the changes in the client’s facial features.

Although the procedures are still sometimes referred to as “cosmetic tattooing”, the permanent makeup practice has developed a distinct identity of its own with a unique set of techniques, manual tools, machines, pigments, and clientele.

What Does the Future Hold for the Permanent Makeup Industry?


Today, the popularity of permanent makeup procedures is soaring through the roof. More people are excited to try these beauty treatments to restore or enhance their facial features. These procedures allow them to live life more confidently.

Considering the gradual evolvement of tools

and changes in clients’ styles, we can’t say anything for sure about the future possibilities.

In recent times, specific techniques have grabbed people’s attention. One of these procedures is permanent makeup under-eye concealer. As the name suggests, it hides and camouflages dark circles and helps clients look refreshed.

Nowadays, people are also opting for permanent cosmetics for facial contouring. This procedure involves implanting darker and lighter pigments to add depth to and change the shape of the face.

While these treatments are not super popular yet, we can expect them to be widely available in the future. No matter what happens, one thing is clear: our imagination is the limit when it comes to permanent cosmetics. The history of permanent cosmetics is a testament to that.

Final Words


Have you ever tried a permanent makeup procedure?

Are you interested in building a career in this field?

Whether you’re a client or an aspiring artist, please reach out to our experts for proper guidance.



Get in Touch

Location: 12340 Santa Monica blvd, suite 136 Los Angeles Ca, 90025

Contact number: 310-970-4569


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