All You Need to Understand About Lip Blushing, the Permanent Makeup for Plumper Lips
If you're fascinated by lip tints' impact (think, an untroubled dash of color that refuses to smudge), it's time to explore lip blushing. Despite its endearing name, lip blushing refers to tattooing the lips. It's not a novel concept as permanent makeup, such as sharp fade-to-blue lip liner, has existed for decades. However, this procedure not only color-corrects and enriches lips but also imparts shape and definition.
We consulted professionals from both sides of the country: New York's renowned dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, and Christina Son, the founder of L.A.'s Sugrain Studio, to elucidate how lip tattooing functions, whether it's painful, and how it could indeed make your lips appear fuller.
What Is Lip Blushing?
"Lip blushing is a semi-permanent tattoo or makeup technique where people aim to restore the color of their lip border or the actual substance of the lip," Frank clarifies. "Loss of pigment in the lips and lip lines is common as we age, particularly in women. Many women resort to lip liner to make up for this color loss and to make their lips seem slightly bigger." Son adds, "This procedure delivers very natural results once healed. Filler is excellent for creating volume in your lips, but lip blush delivers a more natural look and makes the illusion of fuller lips."
Here's the procedure: a minute mechanized needle embeds pigment into the lips, gradually building layers of color. It can be used to correct uneven lip tone or address asymmetry.
Depending on your location, this service can range from $500-$1,500 per appointment.
How Permanent Is Lip Blushing?
Like microblading—a cosmetic procedure involving small cuts in the skin filled with ink—the results of lip blushing differ from person to person. Typically, lip blushing can last several years, with your lifestyle determining its durability; behaviors like smoking and sun exposure can accelerate the fading process. If you have oily skin, use many exfoliating products in your skincare routine, or have an iron deficiency, the pigment could quickly fade.
Even though a tattoo on the lips might sound painful, Frank reassures, "It can be done with topical anesthesia and is bearable."
If you're concerned about your pain tolerance, a pain reliever like Tylenol can be taken before the appointment; however, you should avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, as they can thin the blood and cause more sensitivity.
How to Prepare for Your Lip-Blushing Appointment?
Do you have a history of cold sores? Timing is key. Ask your doctor to prescribe an anti-viral medication—you won't be able to undergo a lip-blushing process if you have an active cold sore. Also, ensure it's at least four weeks from any filler or botox treatments in the area. Then, all that's left is to come to the appointment with smooth, hydrated lips ready for your technician.
What to Expect From Your Appointment?
First, the lips are prepared with a topical anesthetic for numbing, applied for about 20 minutes. The technician then draws the shape of your future lips for your evaluation and changes.
"After assessing their natural base color, I create and mix colors for each client," Son shares. "I typically advise clients to choose colors close to their natural range to keep it as natural as possible."
Typically, the process takes between 60 to 90 minutes, sometimes more, depending on the specific look you're aiming for. After the procedure, swelling of your lips is a common response—remember, it's essentially a tattoo—therefore, applying ice might be necessary for relief. As the week progresses, your lips will gradually heal, possibly forming scabs. Hence, careful scheduling of this procedure is vital.
Son suggests, "For the initial day post-procedure, I recommend my clients to dab their lips with a moist cotton pad softly and let it air dry naturally. This method assists in maintaining lip cleanliness and halts body fluids that have emerged from forming into scabs."
It's important to let the scabs shed off naturally—disturbing them can lead to unsightly scars or patches of lost pigment. Keep away from strenuous exercise and avoid exposure to the sun for a fortnight. If you're considering getting injections, allow a full month to elapse before proceeding. Be mindful not to sleep on your face, as this could cause premature detachment of the scabs. To keep your lips sufficiently hydrated, apply an occlusive ointment like Aquaphor.
Initially, the color will be very vibrant, resembling a lip stain. "Do not be misled by the immediate 'after' results. The immediate results look nothing like when the lips are healed. Once healed, the color fades approximately 30-50 percent and blends in with the natural lip color," Son advises.
How to Find a Trained Technician?
To find a competent specialist, it's important to ask the right questions and not rely solely on social media. Check their Yelp profile for recent reviews on the service you're seeking. Always inquire about their experience with semi-permanent makeup procedures—the longer, the better. Licensing requirements vary by state, so check your state board for the qualifications cosmetic tattoo artists need.
Instagram can be a great resource for learning about these procedures and finding a technician. However, carefully examine the technician's overall portfolio, not just a couple of photos.
How Long Does Lip Blushing Last?
Like any procedure or treatment, there's maintenance involved. Not picking at the scabs and keeping your lips hydrated is crucial for smooth healing. "Once the expected result is attained, patients may require touchups yearly," Frank points out—basically, the same maintenance level as microblading your brows.
Can It Make Your Lips Look Bigger?
The look is the keyword here. "Generally, I love to make the cupid's bow a little more pronounced and add fullness to the sides of the lips, as sometimes the natural color is lost in those areas. Once the client is satisfied with the shape, we begin tattooing the lips," Son shares. Frank adds, "Although lip blushing does not physically enlarge the lips, it gives them the perception of being bigger—just like makeup. It gives a plumper appearance or a more defined look. We must consider it as a semi-permanent form of makeup."
Are there Downsides to Lip Blushing?
Like any procedure, there are some potential drawbacks. "The biggest downside to lip blushing is if it's not done properly, it can look artificial," Frank warns. That's why conducting thorough research and finding a highly skilled technician is crucial.
Additionally, if you have a history of cold sores or herpes, the procedure could trigger an outbreak. Prescribed anti-viral medication should be taken before the appointment, as cold sores can affect the healed results of the lip blush. There's also no exact prediction of how your lips will look post-lip blushing, so it's better to take a gradual approach to shade in case of uneven fading or in case you don't like the result.
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