Can a Lipstick Tattoo Really Look Like Lipstick? Opaque Lip Blush

By Emily M.| Last updated on February 22, 2023
Lipstick Tattoo
⏱️ 4 min read

The wide range of permanent makeup procedures offers a treatment for virtually any makeup product you like to wear on a daily basis. When something called lipstick tattoo emerged, makeup lovers who got tired of applying and reapplying lipstick flooded PMU salons.

But quickly, a service called lip blushing took over. This one is advertised as a more delicate, natural-looking treatment which gives you a your-lips-but-better type of look. Something like a highly-pigmented lip gloss.

So fans of bold, bright and vivid lip makeup started discarding lip blush, thinking it could never give them the look they want. But in reality, lip blushing and a lipstick tattoo are one and the same! Let’s see how lip blushing can give you a lipstick look.

For Starters, Let’s Clear Up the Terminology

The permanent makeup world is notoriously inconsistent regarding terminology. Each of the treatments has multiple names, they can be done in more than one style which is in turn named differently, they can be mixed and hybridized, and there are many branded techniques that may be marketed as something different but are essentially the same.

So it’s very easy for clients to get lost and overwhelmed!

With lip tattoos, the naming game is especially complicated. But let’s clear one thing up – all lip tattoo styles are done using the same technique. The difference lies in color intensity and placement, and by manipulating these two factors, a wide range of styles can be created.

A lipstick tattoo and lip blushing are not 2 different treatments. A lipstick tattoo is just a more opaque version of lip blushing, done with colors that will pop rather than blend into the natural lip color.

For more information on lip PMU, check out our guide.

lipstick tattoo red lipsImage source: Instagram @zoehughes_pmu

How Is a Lipstick Tattoo Created, Then?

A lipstick tattoo is done by implementing pigments into the skin of the lips using an electric PMU machine, a pen-shaped device that features a thin needle. The needle goes in and out at a high speed and creates tiny punctures on the lips into which pigments are deposited.

If you want to recreate the look of full-on lipstick, the treatment is adapted so it provides maximum coverage and color intensity. Artists do this by adjusting the color choice, the placement of color, and color saturation.

Color Placement

What characterizes a full-on lipstick look is very defined edges of the lips, without blending. Most people who wear lipstick always combine it with a lip liner to get the definition.

A lipstick tattoo, therefore, is done in the same way.

When a lipstick tattoo is done, the first step is actually doing a permanent lip liner. The lips are outlined without going outside of the vermilion border – the junction between the skin of the lips and actual facial skin. It’s crucial pigments don’t go outside of this barrier because they will blur in the skin and fade differently from the pigment implemented into lip tissue.

The lip liner is actually crucial for achieving the lipstick look. Without it, it’s a more blended style closer to aquarelle lips.

The rest of the lips are colored in using the same shade.

color choice red lipstick tattooImage source: Instagram @blackdiamondstudio1

Color Choice

With any style of lip tattoo, it’s important you understand how pigment behaves in the lips.

When they are implanted, they look very dark at first. This is because the formula is exposed to oxygen, oxidizes, and consequently turns dark. However, the healing process will extract a portion of the pigment, and as the punctures on the skin heals, the color will turn lighter.

At the end of the healing process and the skin of the lips goes through a cell turnover cycle, the color will be 40-60% lighter than the initial shade. This is why all lip tattoos are always done in 2 sessions – the initial color implementation, and the 6-8 week touch up.

For a lipstick tattoo, the logic is this: if you want the color to look intense once healed, you have to go quite a bit darker. The shade on the pigment bottle may not be exactly what you want, but this will not be the final result anyway. Trust your artist.

Color Saturation

As we said, the lips do not retain all the pigment that’s implemented. A significant amount of it will be exfoliated away.

So if you want an opaque look, the color has to be built up gradually, and you probably won’t get the intensity you want with 2 sessions, unless your lips retain pigments exceptionally well.

You might need an additional session done 6-8 weeks after the touch up.

Bear in mind that the price of the initial treatment most often includes the first touch up, but an additional session will be charged extra.


One of the common reasons why people go for a lipstick tattoo is having cool-toned, bluish lips with a lot of melanin they may feel self-conscious about, and get tired of covering them up with various thick and heavy products.

A lipstick tattoo can definitely work on such lips, but bear in mind you might need an extra session or 2 of dark lip neutralization first, and then get the color you want on top of that.

lipstick tattoo before and afterImage source: Instagram @permanentbeauty.lulu

Will My Lipstick Tattoo Look Realistic?

When done right and if your lips soak up the pigment evenly, your lip tattoo can definitely look like you’re wearing lipstick, at least for a while.

But, as you know, permanent makeup is done with pigments that fade over time, and at some point, usually about a year into it, your lipstick tattoo will start losing color intensity.

This isn’t a problem, though – they’ll still look nice and enhanced, just gradually lighter and lighter. You can book a color refresher touch up and replenish the pigments. In the meantime, you can wear any lip product over it.

Final Note

A full-on lipstick tattoo is a great choice for you if you wear bright, opaque lipstick every day and you’re sure you’ll like the style in a year or 2, and not just get over it. If you’re not absolutely sure you want to commit to bold lips, it’s better to go for a more subtle lip blush in a nude or rosy tone you can build up with a brighter product on special occasions.

Cover image source: Freepik



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