Your Guide to Cosmetic Tattooing Procedures in 2024

There are a lot of different procedures that fall under the umbrella of cosmetic tattooing. Read the full article to find out more about each of them + what it looks like!

Guide through cosmetic tattooing procedures

Image source: Freepik

Cosmetic tattooing isn’t just any beauty trend; it’s a transformative art that can help you look your best – whether you’re enhancing what you love, hiding what you don’t, or reconstructing something that’s missing.

There’s a lot you can achieve with this procedure – from having permanent makeup to camouflaging different conditions and insecurities.

We’re presenting you with the different options cosmetic tattooing gives you through a brief recap and examples of results.

We’ll also include links to other articles to help you make sure you’ve done all your research before you decide which cosmetic tattoo is right for you. Let’s get started!

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Cosmetic Tattooing FAQ

Before going over all the different treatments that fall under the cosmetic tattoo umbrella, we’re going to answer the most common questions regarding the whole thing.

Is Cosmetic Tattooing the Same as Tattooing?

Not really, but they’re very similar.

The main difference is, of course, the intent behind the tattoo. Traditional tattoos are there for decoration, while cosmetic ones are there to either enhance or camouflage something.

Sometimes, different color formulas are used, but that’s not always the case. Permanent makeup is usually done with semi-permanent cosmetic pigments rather than tattoo inks, while medical tattoos can be done with either.

It’s best to ask your artist what they’re using if you have any questions.

When it comes to technique, with machine treatments, the pigments/inks are deposited in the same way. But manual techniques also exist, where different tools are used, like microblading.

How Long Does Cosmetic Tattoo Last?

The longevity of cosmetic tattoos can vary depending on factors like individual skin type, lifestyle, and the specific technique used.

Typically, it lasts anywhere from 1 to 5 years, with some techniques that give even more long-lasting results.

Over time, the pigments fade or may change in color, so touch-up sessions are recommended to maintain the look. Other than that, it’s important to follow proper aftercare instructions if you want your cosmetic tattoo to last.

Factors like sun exposure, skincare routines, and the type of pigment/ink used can influence how long your cosmetic tattoo lasts.

Why Do People Get Cosmetic Tattoos?

The short answer is something we already covered – either to enhance or camouflage something. But the long answer is that it’s an individual choice and it depends on what you want to accomplish.

The rest of this guide is dedicated to exactly that – telling you about which treatments will get you which results!

Permanent Makeup

Permanent makeup (PMU) is exactly what it sounds like – it’s makeup you can’t take off.

This is also the main reason that many decide on getting this sort of tattoo; there’s no hassle in reapplying your products every single day, saving you time and money.

Another big benefit of PMU is that since the color goes into the skin rather than on top of it, the effects don’t smudge or run.

Let’s go over the most popular PMU treatments.

Eyebrow Tattoo

Among the most common PMU treatments, eyebrow cosmetic tattoos are definitely the most popular. But there are different ones you can do depending on what you want to achieve.

example of eyebrow tattooImage source: Instagram @salon17microblading

Here are your options:

Microblading

Microblading is a cosmetic procedure used to enhance and shape eyebrows. It involves a technician using a manual hand-held tool to create fine hair-like strokes by depositing pigment into the skin’s outermost layers.

Sometimes, a subtle shading effect is added for extra definition.

This technique is popular for achieving natural-looking, well-defined brows, especially for those with sparse or uneven eyebrows. And, as you can see from the pic below, the results are amazing!

Microblading typically lasts 1 to 3 years, with an average 18 months of fresh-looking results, and the pigment gradually fading. It’s essential to follow proper aftercare and schedule touch-up sessions to maintain the results.

Learn more about microblading.

before and after microbladingImage source: Instagram @zanderluxe

Nano Brows AKA Machine Hair Strokes

Nano brows, also known as machine hair strokes, are an eyebrow enhancement technique that differs from microblading in a few ways.

Instead of a manual tool, a specialized machine with ultra-fine needles is used to create precise hair-like strokes. This method allows for greater control, consistency, and the ability to deposit pigment more precisely into the skin.

Work by Art of Microblading, Boca Raton FL

This means that nano brows tend to be longer-lasting – an average 2 years – and the strokes are finer, tapered and more refined, resulting in a very natural look.

They can be shaded in for extra volume.

The main factor when deciding between microblading and nano brows should be your skin type – if you have oily skin, nano bows are a better option than microblading.

Machine hair strokes are also better for mature skin.

Learn more about nano brows.

Nano brows cosmetic tattooImage source: Instagram @brokit

Powder Brows

Powder brows or ombre powder brows are another cosmetic technique for enhancing eyebrows, distinct from both microblading and nano brows.

Instead of creating individual hair-like strokes, powder brows involve the application of pigment in a soft gradient to create a “powdered” effect using a specialized machine.

The result resembles a filled-in makeup look, similar to what you would get from using eyebrow powder or pomade.

Powder brows offer a more solid and defined look, which is a good option for those who want to achieve a fuller, denser, and more polished brow.

The technique is versatile, so it can give a more or less dramatic look depending on what style you want.

The lifespan of powder brows can range from 2 to 5 years, making them a great choice if you want something that’s both long-lasting and low-maintenance at the same time.

They’re perfect for anyone who wears makeup on the rest of their face often.

Learn more about powder brows.

Powder brows before and afterImage source: Instagram @pmu_evelina

Combo Brows

Combo brows, as the name suggests, combine elements of different brow enhancement techniques to achieve a balanced and customized look.

This approach blends both microblading or nano brows (individual hair-like strokes) and shading (powder effect) to create a more dynamic and natural appearance.

@fleekink_ Fresh combination brows for this cutie 🥰 visit our salon🇨🇭 #fyp #microblading #fypシ #switzerland #viral #brows #mua ♬ CUFF IT - Beyoncé

The hair strokes provide definition and mimic real hair, while the shading adds depth and density. The result is often fuller and more structured than strokes alone, with a softer appearance compared to just shading.

Learn more about combo brows.

Combo brows before and afterImage source: Instagram @cattinks

Quick summary of the differences between these techniques:

  • Microblading gives you fine, hair-like strokes for a natural look; lasts about 1.5 years.
  • Nano brows (machine hair strokes) also include fine strokes but are longer-lasting, typically around 2 years.
  • Powder brows (shading) provide a gradual, filled-in effect that lasts around 2 years or longer.
  • Combo brows are a blend of strokes and shading that give you a balanced, dynamic look.

Eyeliner Tattoo

Eyeliner tattoo refers to getting pigment deposited around the eyelid, on the lash line, to create different effects. As is the case with regular eyeliner applications, the styles vary greatly.

3 basic permanent eyeliner stylesImage source: Instagram @mp.brows

On one end of the spectrum, we have a full eyeliner, winged and/or shaded, which looks like you’re wearing makeup. This is a popular choice for anyone who wants a hassle-free makeup routine and to always look ready to go.

On the other end, there are more subtle styles, with just a little bit of pigment carefully placed to enhance just one part of the eye.

Using brown instead of black pigments in this case can make the liner look completely natural, like you just have fuller lashes, which made permanent eyeliner a popular option for men as well.

Learn more about permanent eyeliner.

before and after cosmetic eyeliner tattooImage source: Instagram @the_healer_haetal

Lip Tattoo

Lip tattoos are done by depositing cosmetic tattoo pigments into the skin of the lips to enhance their color.

It’s a machine shading technique called lip blush that can give a range of effects, from more solid color with a defined lip shape, to sheer, subtle looks.

lip blush before and afterImage source: Instagram @permanentmakeup_dove_

Most people go for natural lip blush, ideal for those who want a more vibrant and defined pout without the intensity of full lipstick.

Different effects go by different names, but it’s all very similar. For example, aquarelle lips are all about achieving a soft, watercolor-like effect for a natural and seamless look.

This technique is perfect for a gentle pop of color with a more polished appearance.

Permanent lip liner defines the lip’s shape with a permanent outline, accentuating its contours. It provides a lasting, crisp border, making it a great option for those looking to redefine their lip shape. It can be shaded or crisp.

Lip blush can also be used to neutralize dark tones on cool lips.

The choice between these different methods depends on what you want to achieve. In any case, the results stay relatively fresh for about 2 years, but can be prolonged.

Learn more about lip tattoos.

lip permanent makeup styles

Permanent Concealer

Permanent concealer has a wide range of applications, just like regular concealer, but it is most commonly used to manage dark under-eyes.

This is done by depositing pigments that match your skin color to the darker areas.

It’s important to be careful because, unlike procedures like the PMU treatments we talked about so far, there isn’t one standardized, widely recognized technique for permanent concealer.

So, if you’re looking to use this method to address your insecurities, it’s essential to consult with a skilled cosmetic tattoo artist and your dermatologist first.

Learn more about permanent concealer.

Permanent concealer cosmetic tattooImage source: Instagram @beautyconcepthamburg

Permanent Foundation AKA BB Glow

This treatment got its name because it involves the application of a special BB serum with a nanoneedling device or a dermapen to achieve a foundation-like effect on the skin.

This procedure aims to even out skin tone, reduce the appearance of blemishes, and give the skin a radiant and natural-looking glow.

Although the results are temporary, lasting several months, the treatment is somewhat less invasive than the others, so getting it redone after the effects fade won’t be that big of a hassle.

Learn more about BB glow.

foundation concealer tattoo before and afterImage source: Instagram @thebeautyy.therapist_

Beauty Mark Tattoo

Other than using cosmetic tattoos to enhance the features you already have; you can also use them to add different kinds of beauty marks!

Freckles Tattoo

With the growing popularity of freckles, it’s no surprise that freckle tattoos started becoming a trend. You can either get this tattoo done with cosmetic ink at a PMU salon, or with regular ink at a tattoo parlor.

Results of freckles tattooImage source: Instagram @littlebabylinda

What makes freckle tattoos especially fun is that they don’t have to look natural! For example, astrofrecks are faux freckles that are made to look like your favorite constellation.

Of course, if that’s not really your style, the freckles can be made to look completely realistic. In that case, brown or tan ink is used (depending on your natural skin tone) and they are placed in such a way as to resemble the natural, scattered freckle pattern.

Learn more about freckle tattoos.

Mole Tattoo

Marilyn Monroe was famous for her mole and its very specific placement just above the lip. Given her enormous fame, many have replicated the look using eyeliner, kohl pencils, or other makeup products.

But, with mole tattoos, you can get the look permanently done! Of course, Marilyn isn’t the only inspiration behind this trend, but is definitely one of the most commonly copied.

Much like with freckles, mole tattoos can also be done in fun shapes or made to look completely realistic using brownish pigments.

Learn more about mole tattoos.

Example of mole tattooImage source: Instagram @glambrowlashxo

Restorative Tattooing

Finally, it’s time to talk about ways cosmetic tattoos can address different insecurities and consequences of medical conditions.

Scalp Micropigmentation

Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure designed to address hair loss or thinning by creating the illusion of a closely shaved head or fuller hair.

During SMP, tiny pigment deposits are tattooed onto the scalp to replicate hair follicles, helping to camouflage bald patches, receding hairlines, or scars from hair transplant procedures.

It’s a popular choice for both men and women seeking a low-maintenance and natural-looking solution to hair loss.

SMP provides the appearance of a closely cropped or buzzed hairstyle, and its results can last for several years – up to 8 depending on technique and aftercare.

Learn more about scalp micropigmentation.

Before and after scalp cosmetic tattooingImage source: Instagram @scalptist

Nipple & Areola Tattoo

Nipple and areola tattooing is a specialized cosmetic procedure aimed at recreating the appearance of the nipple and areola complex on the breast, typically after breast surgery, such as mastectomy for breast cancer or breast reconstruction.

This technique uses pigments and precise tattooing to simulate the natural color, shape, and texture of the nipple and areola.

It can help enhance the aesthetics of the breast, contributing to the emotional and psychological healing of individuals who have undergone breast-related surgeries.

But, other than realistic, 3D tattoos, it’s also possible to get creative with this type of tattoo! For example, heart-shaped areolas are a fun way to replace what was lost.

Or, you can just get it around your existing areola as a purely decorative add-on.

Learn more about nipple and areola tattoos.

Nipple and areola cosmetic tattooingImage source: Instagram @the.areola.tattooist

Scar Camouflage

Scar camouflage involves the application of pigment or ink that matches the individual’s skin tone to the scarred area, creating the illusion of smoother, more even skin.

This method is a great solution for those with surgical scars, accident scars, or stretch marks who want to reduce the contrast between the scar tissue and the surrounding skin.

Done right, it can provide complete coverage.

Still, it is important to note that this is a temporary solution that may require touch-up sessions to maintain the desired effect.

If you want something that’s less invasive but that won’t completely hide the scar, a good option may be laser scar removal.

Learn more about scar camouflage.

Scar cosmetic tattooingImage source: Instagram @holyspirittattoostudio

Vitiligo Camouflage

Vitiligo camouflage is a cosmetic procedure that aims to conceal or reduce the visibility of vitiligo, a skin condition characterized by the loss of pigmentation in certain areas of the skin.

This technique involves the application of specialized pigments that closely match the patient’s skin tone to the depigmented patches caused by vitiligo.

By carefully tattooing these pigments onto the affected areas, vitiligo camouflage can help even out the skin tone and create a more consistent and natural appearance.

This treatment also isn’t fully permanent and will require occasional touch-ups.

Results of vitiligo cosmetic tattooingImage source: Instagram @gasparmelinda.pmu

Webbed Toe Tattoo

A webbed toe tattoo is a unique and creative form of body art that involves tattooing a design on the skin between two adjacent, webbed toes.

The tattoo can be of various styles, ranging from simple and subtle designs to intricate and colorful artwork.

On the other hand, much like other, similar restorative cosmetic tattoos, it can be also done in a realistic style, so that it appears as a natural gap between the toes.

Learn more about webbed toe tattoos.

Results of a webbed toe tattooImage source: Instagram @scalpmicrodefinition

Cosmetic Tattooing – Main Takeaways

Cosmetic tattooing offers you the option to enhance or conceal certain features. It includes various techniques.

The first one we discussed was permanent makeup for hassle-free daily routines, which includes:

  • Microblading
  • Nano brows
  • Powder brows
  • Combo brows
  • Eyeliner tattoos
  • Lip tattoos.

We also talked about beauty mark tattoos, which include the trendy freckle tattoos and mole tattoos.

Finally, we dove into restorative cosmetic tattooing, which helps with concerns such as:

  • Scalp micropigmentation for hair loss and bald patches,
  • Nipple and areola tattoos for aesthetic improvements after breast surgery,
  • Scar camouflage for covering up scars and stretch marks,
  • Vitiligo camouflage for evening out skin tone in affected areas,
  • Webbed toe tattoos for creating interesting designs or natural-looking gaps between toes.

If you’re not sure which, if any cosmetic tattoo is the right choice for you, you can always find a cosmetic tattoo artist and book free consults through PMUHub Find. No strings attached!

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