Lip Blush Gone Wrong: Risks & Side Effects

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on May 8, 2024

Learn all about lip blush gone wrong scenarios and how to prevent them, plus discover some possible risks and side effects of the procedure.

lip blush gone wrong

Image source: Freepik

Lip blush is the most popular form of cosmetic lip tattooing. The main goal of this lip enhancement procedure is to provide clients with long-lasting, natural-looking results that give their lips a flushed appearance and even color.

And while lip blushing can produce stunning results when done correctly, there are still some lip blush gone wrong scenarios and possible risks and side effects to be aware of.

In this detailed guide, we dive into the various side effects and risks of lip blush tattoo gone wrong, while also providing solutions and prevention tips to ensure a safe and satisfying experience.

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First, a Quick Overview of Lip Blushing

Lip blush is a semi-permanent makeup procedure designed to enhance the color and shape of the lips.

The lip blushing process involves implementing PMU pigments into the lips using an electric PMU device with thin needles, to create a soft, diffused color effect. These pigments stay in the skin for a couple of years, gradually fading over time and becoming practically invisible.

And since the chosen color is implemented underneath the skin of the lips, it can never smudge or wear off as regular lip makeup products would, so you can eat, drink, and more without worrying about your lips.

Learn everything about lip blush from our comprehensive guide.

lip blushing examplesImage source: Instagram @buonabeauty

Lip Blush Side Effects – What’s Normal & What’s Not

Just like any other PMU procedure that involves opening up or breaking the skin to implement cosmetic ink, the lip blushing treatment comes with its own set of potential side effects. Let’s take a look at the most common lip blush side effects and those that indicate a bigger issue.

Normal Side Effects After Lip Blushing

The lip blushing procedure implies inflicting microtrauma on the lips, which can result in the following side effects:

Swelling

The most common thing clients report after getting lip blush is that their lips increased or even doubled in size.

This happens as a result of the body instinctively sending lymphatic fluid into the area where needle penetration occurs. By building up lymphatic fluid, our bodies provide a cushioning effect that essentially prevents the needle from going too deep into the tissue.

As soon as the tattoo procedure is finished, the body will start to regulate lymphatic buildup and slowly decrease swelling. You can expect your lips to shrink back to their regular size in the first 48 hours post-treatment.

If this doesn’t occur, it may be a sign of complications.

Tenderness

The skin of the lips is thinner and more delicate than the skin on the rest of the face, so you’re bound to experience some discomfort during the procedure, especially after it.

This feeling of discomfort can be described as tenderness, sensitivity, tightness, and a throbbing sensation. These lip blush side effects should subside the following day post-procedure.

Flaking

Freshly tattooed lips ooze some lymph and tiny amounts of blood, which is a normal side effect that leads to forming a thin filmy layer of scabs.

And just like on any other part of the body, lip blush scabs are susceptible to flaking and start peeling off around day 3 and 4 post-treatment.

What’s important during this time is to not pick at flakes or scabs that are hanging from your lips. Instead, you should let them fall off naturally to not end up with patchy healed results.

flaking after lip blush treatmentImage source: Instagram @boikova.pm

Cold Sore Flareup

A common side effect of lip blush is developing cold sores as a result of needle stimulation.

Regardless of if you’re prone to getting them or not, lip blushing may trigger a flare-up. Most of the time, this is nothing serious, just annoying.

The only potential issue is if it’s really severe and you pick at it – this could lead to poor healing and uneven results. So if you have a history of flare ups, definitely discuss this with your artist.

Find more useful information on why cold sores happen after lip blush and how to treat them here.

cold sore flareup after lip blushImage source: Instagram @anna.marastudio

Lip Blush Side Effects That Lead to Potential Complications

In rare cases, it’s possible to experience a reaction or a prolonged side effect that can be a sign of a potential complication from the procedure.

Prolonged side effects of lip blushing can be a result of an ongoing lip tattoo infection. Extreme tenderness verging on pain can indicate that the lips have been overworked.

Swelling past the 48-hour mark might be a sign of an inflammatory process or an allergic reaction to cosmetic tattoo pigments or even numbing agents used during the procedure. That’s why it is strongly recommended to do a patch test before the procedure.

Solutions & Prevention Tips for Lip Blush Side Effects

To minimize the risks and side effects associated with lip blush, it’s crucial to take proactive steps both before and after the treatment. Here are some solutions and prevention tips:

Do Thorough Research

Prior to scheduling your lip blush appointment, research reputable and experienced artists, or salons with a track record of successful procedures. Reading online reviews and checking before and after photos can provide insights into the quality of their work.

Book a Consultation a Before the Treatment

Schedule a consultation with your chosen technician. Discuss your desired outcome, concerns, and any previous allergies or reactions you may have had.

A skilled technician will take your unique features and preferences into account when planning the procedure, plus consultations are generally free of charge so there’s nothing to lose!

Some tech do the consults as part of the actual treatment, but it’s better to do them at least a few days in advance, so the patch test can show results and you have time to think about it.

Request a Patch Test from Your Technician

Some artists insist on performing a patch test, others will just have you sign a waiver.

Request a patch test before the procedure if your tech doesn’t offer one straight away. This is very important for people with sensitive and reactive skin, to check for any allergic reactions to the pigments that will be used during the procedure.

Follow Our Pre-Care Tips

To minimize any unwanted reactions to your lip tattoo, it’s important to take pre-care into consideration.

Your actions before and after treatment greatly affect the final outcome, so make sure you avoid alcohol and caffeine-based beverages and keep your lips prepped and moisturized. Limit sun exposure and do a gentle lip scrub to remove dead skin and makeup residue.

lip blush pre care tips

Image source: Instagram @pmuhub

Follow Aftercare Instructions

In the days after the procedure, carefully follow the aftercare instructions provided by your technician. Lip blush aftercare includes avoiding certain activities and staying out of direct sunlight, but most importantly, keeping the lips moisturized.

Make sure to use a vitamin-rich, healing lip balm like the HealQuick PMU Aftercare Stick Ointment or Perma Care for the Lips during the lip blush healing process. Its formula is light and breathable, making for easy application and optimal healed results.

Apply it to your lips several times per day.

After Healing, Use Sun Protection Regularly

Once your lips have healed, using a daily SPF balm on your lips is crucial for preventing your lip blush results from fading, but also for maintaining the health of your lips during frequent sun exposure. Check out some of our best-ranked SPFs for lips here.

Lip Blush Risks and Possible Complications

Keep in mind that even though lip blushing is a form of cosmetic tattooing, it is a similar technique and carries many of the same risks as a traditional tattoo. If lip blushing is not done properly, you may be at risk of the following conditions:

Lip Infection

Although rare, a viral or bacterial lip infection can happen as a result of lip blushing.

In order to prevent this from happening during the procedure, do your research and book with an experienced and reputable artist who works with sterilized equipment at all times.

But also, make sure you follow the right aftercare to prevent the development of an infection while your lips are healing.

Swelling, tenderness, and mild itching are all common side effects of lip blushing, but when they are exaggerated and last longer than a couple of days post-treatment, chances are you’re dealing with an infection.

Other signs of a lip infection are:

  • blistering or bubbling
  • major swelling that’s not subsiding after 48h
  • pus, oozing of whitish/yellow/greenish discharge
  • unpleasant odor coming from the area

Read this article to learn more about dealing with and treating lip infection as a sign of a lip blush gone wrong.

Allergic Reaction

Some people may develop allergic reactions to the pigments used in lip blush or to the topical anesthetic used during the procedure. Aftercare products are another potential culprit.

This can lead to itching, swelling, and even pain in the lip area.

Some allergic reactions to lip blush may present as a rash and bumps, or in the rarest of cases, anaphylaxis (a life-threatening condition that sends your body into shock and requires medical assistance immediately).

Scarring

We can’t stress how important it is to book your lip blushing procedure with an experienced artist since booking with someone who lacks experience and technique can lead to permanent scarring.

Scar tissue can alter the texture and appearance of your lips, and can also develop as a result of improper aftercare, like ripping off skin flakes during healing.

Hyperpigmentation

Lip blush can neutralize dark and cool toned lips, but some people are just not good candidates for dark lip neutralization, as needle penetration can in some cases cause hyperpigmentation.

To make this treatment a success, it is required of the artist to have great knowledge and skill, as only highly trained artists are able to provide the best results without any complications.

You can learn more about lip blushing on dark lips here.

Granulomas

This is a rare reaction that is attributed to the darker inks or pigments used during lip blushing. Granulomas happen when our bodies recognize the implemented cosmetic ink as a foreign substance and mount an immune response to try and seclude it.

Keloid Formation

Keloid scars can occur whenever the skin is injured, traumatized, or in this case, opened by tattoo needles. If you’re naturally prone to developing keloids, it is advised to skip lip blushing altogether.

However, if you don’t have a history of keloid scarring, the chances of it developing on your lips from lip blushing are very low.

Pigment Migration & Unattractive Fading

You may have seen lip blush gone wrong photos online where the lips are outlined with a darker, blurry stretch. This is not supposed to happen – it means that pigment was implemented where it shouldn’t go, trying to achieve a lip liner effect, and faded unattractively over time.

Lip liner tattoo gone wrong scenarios mainly happen as a result of poor technique. Namely, the artist tattoos outside the vermillion border (the edge where the skin of the lips meets facial skin), which should always be avoided.

Lip tissue and facial skin tissue have different properties, and pigments fade from them differently, which is the reason why these tattooed areas will never blend and have the same color once healed.

Here’s more information on lip anatomy if you’re interested.

If you ever find yourself with a lip liner tattoo gone wrong situation, you can remove it with the help of either laser or non-laser PMU removal.

Learn more about lip liner tattoo gone wrong scenarios and how to treat them here.

lip liner tattoo gone wrong
Image source: Instagram @juvessentials

Lip Tattoos Gone Wrong After Lip Filler

If you’re someone who loves getting lip filler but would also like to try out lip blushing, the most important thing to do to avoid lip blush gone wrong is to never do one procedure right after the other.

The results will not be satisfying and it’s too much trauma to the skin of the lips. Also, if you have freshly done filler, you can experience migration and changes in lip volume that don’t coincide with the shaded outline.

Read more about getting lip blush before and after lip fillers and how this can affect the final results here.

How to Prevent and Manage Lip Blush Risks

Now that we’ve covered the most common lip blush risks, take a look at our lip blush gone wrong prevention and management tips:

Cold Sore Prevention & Management

To prevent cold sores from developing post-lip blushing if you have a history of getting them, the best thing to do is to consult with your doctor and your artist if lip blushing is a safe option for you.

Your physician will likely advise you to take antiviral medications before your procedure.

Any complications from cold sores post-lip blush can be prevented with proper aftercare, by only using the aftercare ointment advised by your technician to moisturize your lips. The treated region should also not be rubbed, traumatized, touched, or picked at.

Infection Prevention & Management

Infection prevention mostly comes down to your chosen artists or salon, whether they use sterilized equipment and follow the proper safety regulations. That’s why you should always do your research and book with a reputable artist or salon.

You should also follow the aftercare instructions provided by your artist or technician, as your lips are the most sensitive to bacterial infection in their healing phase.

Allergic Reaction Prevention & Management

To prevent allergic reactions to lip blush, the best thing is to do a patch test beforehand. You cannot always anticipate an allergic reaction, but doing a patch test will give your body time to get used to the pigment and provide you with peace of mind.

If you do, however, get an allergic reaction to lip blush, there are a few things that you can do.
First, check if your reaction is only superficial (on the skin in the form of hives, bumps, flushing, etc.) or if you’re experiencing symptoms like face swelling or difficulty breathing.

Once you’ve determined the severity of your allergic reaction, seek help from your artist or dermatologist when dealing with superficial symptoms, or call an ambulance if you’re experiencing more severe symptoms to prevent anaphylaxis.

You will probably be prescribed oral and topical antihistamines (anti-inflammatory medication) for superficial reactions.

Granuloma Prevention & Management

Granulomas are difficult to prevent as they can show up anytime from a couple of weeks to a couple of months after the lip blushing procedure. Patch testing before the treatment isn’t effective in detecting if or when you’ll develop granulomas.

Granulomas require medical treatment and will need to be assessed and treated by a dermatologist. The treatment may include topical or injectable steroids in combination with laser ablation.

Keloid Formation Prevention & Management

Keloids are one of the more difficult-to-manage lip embroidery gone wrong scenarios that require dermatological treatment. They are not a life-threatening condition, but if they develop on your lips, you’ll want to have them treated as soon as possible.

Since the formation of keloid scars is mostly due to genetics, there isn’t much that you can do prevention-wise except skip the treatment altogether.

Lip Blush Gone Wrong – Main Takeaways

Lip blush can be a fantastic way to enhance your lips’ natural shape and color, but like any cosmetic procedure, it comes with its share of risks and side effects.

By thoroughly researching artists and technicians, and following proper pre-care and aftercare, you can minimize the chances of experiencing adverse effects like lip infection, allergic reactions, and other complications.

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