Here’s everything you need to know about permanent concealer: effects, technique, healing and aftercare, risks, costs, and more.
Last updated in December 2021.
In the past decade or so, the permanent makeup industry has grown so much it has come up with PMU treatments that can recreate and replace virtually any makeup product. Some of those treatments have become true beauty staples, while others didn’t really take off.
Permanent concealer is one of the less famous PMU procedures. It’s very popular in some parts of the world, like Asia and Brazil, but it hasn’t really achieved global recognition.
Nevertheless, let’s see what tattoo concealer is all about.
Permanent under-eye concealer is a permanent makeup treatment designed to recreate the effects of regular concealer, so, to camouflage dark circles under the eyes. The final result is meant to brighten the area under the eyes, but this effect is achieved through the injection of pigments into the skin.
Therefore, permanent concealer can’t be washed off or removed like regular makeup. The color is placed beneath the skin surface, so it evens out the skin tone from within.
Image source: Instagram @glambygeegee
The concealer tattoo can last for years, but not forever.
There are actually 2 versions of the treatment which provide results of different lifespans – permanent concealer tattoo done with tattoo ink, and semi-permanent concealer which is done with pigmented serums.
Permanent concealer done with tattoo ink can last as long as a decade, while PMU concealer lasts 2-4 years on average, with occasional touch ups necessary for keeping the results fresh.
The treatment hasn’t really been standardized or harmonized globally, so techs use different color solutions which have different pigment concentrations.
The tips of the needles are extremely thin, and they go very shallow into the skin, so the treatment is generally considered painless. The clients feel the vibrations of the device more than the needling.
We won’t lie to you – if not done 100% correctly, the permanent concealer treatment can be risky.
The area treated is extremely delicate – the skin is very thin and there’s a huge number of tiny blood vessels, plus major tear ducts are located just under the inner corner of the eyes on the sides of the nose. If the needle goes too deep at any point or touches the tear ducts, there could be damage to the tissue or permanent scarring.
Improper technique could also cause cysts, and the close proximity of the eyes makes the risk of developing an infection significant.
The most important part of the prep is doing thorough research, and we strongly advise you to look into the possible long-term consequences before you book an appointment. If you decide to go through with it, we urge you to find the most experienced tech available, since this treatment is risky and shouldn’t be done by uncertified, underqualified, or inexperienced technicians.
In terms of active pre-care, the concealer tattoo doesn’t really require any strict prep since it’s less invasive than PMU, but you definitely should:
Blood- and skin-thinning substances can cause bleeding or skin hypersensitivity. A patch test should be done whenever you’re getting any treatment for the first time to make sure you’re not allergic to any of the products used.
After the treatment, you will be asked to pay some special attention to your under-eyes, but it’s nothing complicated.
Since the skin is broken during the treatment, it’s important to protect the area from contamination. Exposure to chlorinated or saltwater, extreme heat, or sunlight can disrupt the pigment settling.
Image source: Instagram @camuflagemdeestrias_brasilia
If the treatment is done right, there’s very little trauma to the skin. It will just need a few days to close up the tiny incisions. It should recover completely within 2 weeks.
There might be some redness in the treated area for 24-48 hours. If it gets worse over time or doesn’t subside, contact your tech – you might be developing an infection.
This depends on 2 factors: whether the treatment is done with inks of pigments, and how well your skin takes the color.
If the color is tattoo ink, a touch up probably won’t be necessary. The desired coverage can be achieved in a single session.
If the color is a pigmented serum, it needs to be built up gradually, over 2 or more sessions, booked 6-8 weeks apart. It’s not really possible to predict how many sessions will be necessary until the tech can see how they settled after your initial session. Some clients’ skin retains pigments well, others’ don’t.
Image source: Instagram @permanent_a.karataeva
It’s important to note that a concealer tattoo cannot fully cover up dark circles. It can brighten them and provide up to 80% coverage, which is definitely an improvement, but dark circles can be quite persistent and stay visible, albeit less, even after multiple sessions.
If the treatment is done with highly concentrated tattoo ink, the effects can last even a decade or longer.
If it’s done with a pigmented serum, they’re expected to disappear after 2-4 years if the implementation depth was proper. If it was too deep, they can last longer, turning into an unattractive shade.
The immediate side effects of a concealer tattoo are not that bad – they come down to some redness and minor swelling. This should go away within a day or 2 (if it doesn’t, you might be developing an infection).
But the treatment carries the risk of infection, since the skin is broken, and allergic reactions to the products. An allergic reaction can be prevented with a patch test, but the possibility of infection is a greater concern since the eyes are so close. If the skin gets contaminated, the infection can easily spread to the eyes, often requiring medical treatment.
Long-term effects are even more problematic. Skin-toned pigments and ink often contain titanium dioxide (white pigment), a substance very problematic for intradermal application. The particles of titanium dioxide can’t be fully broken down by the body, and after a few years, they are known to change color into a yellowish or greenish, and rise in the skin, changing its texture. If you can find someone who works with titanium-free pigments, that’s definitely a better option.
Then, there’s the question of tanning. Since the color injected is matched to your untanned skin, if you get tanned, it’ll look like lighter patches.
You should take all these possibilities into consideration before deciding to get permanent concealer.
Image source: Instagram @skndeep
BB glow, a treatment that can improve the overall complexion by injecting tinted serums into the skin, might be a somewhat better option, since it’s never done with inks, and it’s regulated more strictly than permanent concealer.
Still, BB glow carries a portion of the same risks as a concealer tattoo, and neither treatment has been approved by the FDA.
Here’s a guide through BB glow if you want to find out more.
Unfortunately, no PMU removal method is suitable for getting rid of a concealer tattoo.
Saline and glycolic acid removal haven’t been proven to work for removing permanent concealer. Lasers can’t be used on any pigments that contain titanium dioxide (and since that’s a white pigment, most concealer tattoo colors contain it) – when touched by the laser beam, the color turns into grayish or even black.
As we mentioned, lasers should never come into contact with titanium dioxide. This refers to removal, but also to any other treatment that involves lasers. So if you have permanent concealer, you can’t get any laser treatments, including anti-aging laser procedures.
Permanent concealer is usually charged per session, so the final cost will depend on how many sessions you will need to achieve the desired coverage.
The prices vary significantly based on location and the exclusivity of the salon, so the price range is between $350 and $800 per session. Most salons offer package deals, so additional sessions are charged less than the initial one.
Permanent concealer is a treatment meant to diminish the visibility of dark under-eye circles and lighten the area by injecting light skin-tone pigment or ink into the skin. The effects last for several years, but the treatment is still considered controversial and risky, as the results can change color over the years, or look unnatural if your face gets tanned.
For this reason, as well as other side-effects mentioned in this guide, we urge you to think this decision through carefully before booking a treatment.
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