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Lip Tattoo


Introduction

If you are exploring options to create longer-lasting, fuller, maintenance-free lips, you might want to consider clinical lip tattoo.  Clinical lip tattoo is a proven (semi-)permanent to cosmetic tattoo procedure that restores and recaptures the shape and colour of your existing natural lips, using clinically proven, custom-formulated pigments.

Clinical lip tattoo can be an excellent choice over drawing on or filling in your lips each day.  It's also a more cost effective option than a drawer of cosmetics. Given the amount of options and information it can often be difficult to determine which lip tattoo options are available to you.

If you are considering lips tattoo, you likely have a number of questions, including:

  • What types of lip tattoo are available?
  • How much does it cost to have lip tattoo done, and what are the upkeep costs?
  • What styles of lip tattoo are best for me?
  • How long will lip tattoo last?
  • What are the risks in having lip tattoo?
  • What are the alternatives to getting lip tattoo?
  • Can I have lip tattoo done if I have lip filler?

This webpage provides important facts on lip tattoo (e.g. full lip blush, lip contour) to help you be more informed, supporting you to make the right choice for your face, skin and hair type, and colour. Using these questions as a guide, this webpage describes the most common types of lip tattoo, and discusses the factors involved in choosing, scheduling, and maintaining lip tattoo.

Ivonne Sanchez, Lip Tattoo Artist

Picture: Ivonne Sanchez, Lip Tattoo Professional

Intended Audience

This webpage is intended for clients who are looking for background information on lip tattoo options in order to support informed decision making regarding service selection, purchasing, and maintenance.  The information provided here is general, and specific details may vary depending on your lip tattoo style, technique, and service provider.  This webpage should not replace working with an individual lip tattoo professional or beauty advisor, who will ensure that your lip tattoo experience meets your needs and desired objectives.

A Note About Cosmetic Decisions and Our Personal Health

Lip tattoo and cosmetic tattoo in general is an effective way to resolve an aesthetic concern, and to simplify your self-care routine.  In thinking about aesthetics in the context of your overall health and wellness, it is recommended that you factor in your state of mental well-being, as well as your body's ability to heal from a lip tattoo procedure when subscribing to a lip tattoo service.

Cosmetic products or services should never be used to mask what could be an underlying medical condition.  Please consult first with your primary physician before subscribing to any cosmetic products or aesthetic services.

What is Lip Tattoo, and How Does It Work?

Lip tattoo is a proven cosmetic procedure that has been used for decades, in both Canada and around the world, to efficiently recreate the appearance of full, even, or even defined lips.  In fact, it is likely that you know of someone personally, or have seen someone with lip tattoo, whether or not you have realized that their lip have tattoo pigments in them.

Tattoo Basic Concepts

Tattoo by itself has been a technique used for thousands of years by many civilizations to embed pigments beneath the surface of the skin, for various purposes, including tribal or cultural identification, religion, personal expression, and even by some civilizations as a form of medicinal practice.

How Tattoo Is Permanent

When receiving a traditional tattoo, a special machine with needles punches through the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute. The needles travel through the epidermis and allow the ink to seep deep into the dermis, where all the nerves, collagen fibres, blood vessels, and glands are.

Each time the needle penetrates, it causes an individual wound that sends an alert to the body’s inflammatory process. This calls the immune system to the wound site to begin repairing the skin. This process is what makes tattoos permanent.

Special cells called macrophages consume the invading material (pigments) to clean up the inflammatory mess. The macrophages travel back through the lymphatic system carrying the dye all the way back to the lymph nodes, but other macrophages get left behind in the dermis.

When the straggling macrophages get stuck behind, there is no way to dispose of the pigment and instead the dyes trapped inside of them remain visible through the skin.1

Initially, ink is deposited into the epidermis.  As the skin heals, the damaged epidermal cells are shed and then replaced by new dye-free cells, with the top outermost layer peeling off like a healing sunburn.  Complete epidermal regeneration happens in 2 to 4 weeks.

Pigments that remain stuck behind form the tattoo that is visible to the human eye. It stays with us for many years, subject to the influence of environmental factors like sun exposure and lifestyle during the healing process.

Lip Tattoo Basic Concepts

Lip tattoo is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure that embeds or etches (in)organic pigments beneath the epidermal layer of the skin, placed with the use of a specialized electronic tattoo machine, quickly punching through the skin many times.

Why Lip Tattoo Is Long Term

Lip tattoo is intended to be permanent, and long-lasting, even though the effects wear off over time. This technique focuses on depositing pigment only into the outermost layers of the skin – the epidermis – (otherwise, too deep into the dermis, the effect disappears, and with the build up of scar tissue it makes future lip tattoo less possible). As is the case with most permanent makeup - less is more.

Due to the thinness of the skin on the lips lip tattoo remains for several years, though it may not always be as visible. Thus requiring a colour boost every few years.

Important Terminology for Lip Tattoo

Here are some common terms you may come across while investigating lip tattoo.

Lip Tattoo Service

A Lip Technician, Lip Practitioner, Dermopigmentist, Lip or Lip Artist is a person who performs Lip Tattoo, and who may have received formal, or informal training or certification.

A tattoo ink is a pigment that is combined with a carrier, and used in lip tattooing, and is generally considered to be permanent.

An organic pigment is the result of chemical synthesis and does not come from organic sources.

An inorganic pigment is a dye substance which does not contain carbon, except in its elementary form (carbon black – carbonate) or carbonate. They include mainly oxides, salts or silicates. They can be obtained from finely pulverized minerals or chemical synthesis. They are composed of other elements such as iron, aluminium, cobalt, or chromium.

Permanent makeup is the application of tattoo ink pigments into the skin to achieve a long-lasting to permanent colour effect to look like makeup.

Tattoo removal is the process through which tattoo ink is lifted or removed from within the skin. This process is sometimes performed manually with saline removal but more commonly with a laser device. Tattoo removal can be difficult, and painful.

The dermis is a layer of skin between the epidermis and tissue beneath the skin.

The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin that we can see with our eyes.

Macrophages are a type of white blood cell in our immune system that engulfs foreign substances found in the human body.

Styles of Lip Tattoo

There are lip tattoo styles, and there are lip tattoo techniques. The style focuses on what you want the end-result to look like, the technique is how your professional gets you to these results.

When considering lip tattoo many clients think about whether they want a natural, consistent even look, as though they were not wearing makeup at all - but simply lightening or achieving the same colour throughout the lip(s). Other clients may strive for a more made-up look (as though they were actually wearing makeup like lip stain).

In most cases with Lip tattoo it is possible to achieve a naturally fuller look even while staying within the borders of the natural lip. A slightly plumper look is the result even after swelling has subsided.

Lip Contour

For many clients the objective is to simply define the natural shape of their existing lips, with as minimal colour as possible. For this objective lip contour is the desired style.  Although this option exists it is less popular than the next option, full lip blush.

Lip Blush

Some lip tattoo clients prefer to have a fuller, more even colour applied across the lips. In some cases clients may even want to lighten their existing colour, or apply a bolder colour as though they were wearing a lip stain. A full lip blush can offer a fuller more consistent colour throughout the lips. In this case a lip blush style is a popular choice.

A Note About Staying In The Lines

For optimal results we strongly suggest that clients only use cosmetic tattoo within the natural boundaries and margins of their existing facial features. It is not recommended to tattoo outside of the lip's natural borders. Doing so produces undesired, inconsistent, and unnatural results.

Examples of Lip Tattoo

Before and After Photos of Lip Tattoo

Here below are photos showing a typical Before, After, and Healed lip tattoo where the desired effect is a permanent lip stain, and the style is full lip blush.

Lips Before After and Healed at IVONNE

Photo 1 (Left): Client before lip tattoo; Photo 2 (Middle): Client immediately following lip tattoo; Photo 3 (Right): Client with healed lip tattoo results.

Lip Tattoo Techniques

Other forms of permanent makeup have a range of techniques to achieve a particular style. With lip tattoo the techniques used are more narrow.

Lip Contour or Lip Blush are both permanent makeup cosmetic procedures that are permanent.

A digital machine tool with fine needles is used for the procedure. After carefully choosing a colour and style pigment is pressed into the skin. The result is a beautiful set of lips.

Lip Tattoo Specific Risks:

Lip Tattoo performed by inexperience technicians could cause unnecessary buildup of scar tissue, preventing you from being a lip tattoo candidate in the future.

Those clients with an excess of +1mL lip filler run the risk of poor retention. Due to over-filled lips it may not be possible to achieve the lip tattoo effect that you desire. For these reasons we recommend keeping lip filler to reasonable limits, and only to have lip filler performed by a qualified professional.

Contraindications of Lip Tattoo

A contraindication is a specific situation in which a procedure or treatment should not be used because it may be harmful to the client. There are over a 100 possible contraindications that could impact whether Lip Tattoo is right for you. Click here to learn more.

Benefits of Lip Tattoo

  • Ideal for clients with any skin type, including oily or combination
  • Less maintenance
  • Achieves a consistent, even colour across the lips.
  • Won't rub off

Alternatives To Lip Tattoo

Having our lips done can be an invigorating and refreshing way to feel better about ourselves. There are however other aesthetic treatments that can achieve the same (although shorter term effect). These include:

  • Long term cosmetic lip stains
  • Lip filler

Another alternative to lip tattoo includes a virtual proof of concept. Submit a photo of your face in natural light without any makeup to your lip professional and request a digital proof of what your lips could look like.

How Long Will Lip Tattoo Last?

Lip tattoo performed incorrectly, and too deep into the dermis, could last as long as a traditional tattoo (forever). But this is not ideal since it will cause unnecessary scar tissue to form, and prevent you from being a lip tattoo candidate in the future. Lip pigment itself stays in the lips almost indefinitely, however its appearance wanes over time.

There are general factors that impact the retention period of your lip tattoo:

  • Lifestyle
  • Adherence to precare and aftercare instructions around the lip tattoo service
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to sun and other environmental influences
  • Genetics
  • Skincare and Skin health

Lip Tattoo Retention and Guarantee Guidelines

The lifecycle of your lip tattoo can vary, and these timelines below are only a guide. There are of course exceptions, and outliers to any guideline:

  • Lip Blush: 3 Years
  • Lip Contour: 3 Years

The body's natural response to foreign material, like tattoo pigments, is to remove it. This is the natural healthy response, and so lip tattoo professionals are always up against the unknown when it comes to how effective the body will be in response to pigments.  There are no guarantees, warranties, or assurance, express or implied on how long your lip tattoo may last - only guidelines. Since lip tattoo is impacted by a variety of factors such as lifestyle, sun exposure, and things that are generally outside of our control there are no certainties about the lifecycle of your lip tattoo.

Certification, Standards, and Rating 

The Province of Ontario, through its local Public Health Units oversee lip tattoo as a Personal Service Setting under O. Reg 136/18. Through annual, or period inspections, Public Health officers of a local Public Health Unit will assess a Personal Service Setting for its compliance with the regulations and report its findings to the public through the mandatory display of inspection certificates, and through its online database of inspection results.

Public health units do not assess the practitioner's skill, ability, or credentials as it relates to lip tattoo. Instead public health inspectors ensure that the environment and related processes to deliver lip tattoo are safe, and in accordance with the prevailing Infection Prevention And Control best practices.

Health Canada is responsible for overseeing regulation of cosmetics in Canada. Through their regulations they have set out what ingredients can, and cannot be included in cosmetic products, and at what concentration levels.

Health Canada does not have an approval process for cosmetics like tattoo pigments, and does not, as an ongoing practice assess tattoo pigments for their chemical or toxic ingredient composition.

Safety Considerations

To ensure that your lip tattoo professional is complying with the established safety protocols and regulations it is recommended  to search the name of their business in any local Public Health Inspections database.

Where To Get Lip Tattoo

When choosing an lip professional for lip tattoo consider the following:

  • Am I comfortable with them? Can I communicate my expectations clearly and do we understand each other? Do we have a good rapport?
  • Am I comfortable with their work? Can I envision myself with "their" lips on my face?

Other Selection Criteria

Apart from safety and inspiring results, several additional qualifying factors should be considered when choosing an lip tattoo professional:

  • Professional Contributions and Development: Does the professional maintain their certifications, as well as teach their skill? Through sharing their techniques with other students is the professional helping to contribute to the ongoing development of locally talented resources?
  • Review Rating: Choose a professional with recent, consistent client reviews and recommendations in an established review platform.  
  • Calibre: Choosing an lip tattoo professional who specializes in the service is an important distinction over those who moonlight, or weekend warrior. Lip tattoo is very much a full-time commitment and requires an ongoing concerted effort to produce consistently great results.

Planning Your Lip Tattoo Service

Lip tattoo should always be performed by a qualified provider. Consult a local permanent makeup or skincare clinic to understand your options. You should choose a provider that is located close by so that you can access them easily for follow-up appointments, or to receive any additional skincare or aftercare support.  While out of town and fly-in clients are increasingly common we recommend choosing a professional that you can work with for years to come.

The cost of having lip tattoo depends on the type and volume of lips, quality of equipment and supplies, the experience and setting of the professional, and of course your objectives and budget.

Great lips need to be refreshed about once every few years. It's a good idea to keep your lip appointments booked according to the touch-up schedule that your professional sets.

Scheduling Your Lip Tattoo Service

It is recommended to first request an official cost estimate request ("quote") and/or a virtual consultation with your lip professional before proceeding with any service. This can be done several months before scheduling your appointment.

Once you have made the decision to proceed with lip tattoo be sure to schedule both your initial appointment and your first follow-up about 6-8 weeks later. Doing so ensures that you have access to that critical touch-up appointment to perfect your new lips.

During the scheduled appointment your lip tattoo professional will perform consultation where you will:

  • Review the colour, shape, and style options
  • Review and approve the pre-draw, providing feedback along the way
  • Receive the initial lip tattoo treatment

Your initial lip tattoo treatment will take approximately 2 to 3 hours. It's a great idea to plan your day by having a snack before your appointment and using the toilet when you arrive.

Lip Tattoo Precare Instructions

Thank you for choosing IVONNE as your Permanent Makeup clinic. We know that you spent a lot of time researching the best provider for you. The instructions in our lip precare booklet has been prepared specifically for clients of IVONNE who are considering or preparing for Lip Tattoo treatment at our clinic. The instructions in our precare have been set out chronologically, allowing you to follow along according to the timeline in your lip treatment. It is strongly recommended that you read through the instructions completely at least once prior to your appointment. Following these instructions prior to your procedure will help ensure a more relaxed, comfortable, and enjoyable experience.

The precare instructions for IVONNE lip tattoo are proprietary information, customized to our unique blend of pigments and processes, that are only available upon scheduling your lip tattoo appointment. You may download a copy of the IVONNE precare and aftercare instructions from the appointment confirmation email, or you may also request a copy of the IVONNE precare and aftercare instructions in advance by emailing us at reception@ivonnesanchez.com.

Important Precare Steps Before Your Lip Tattoo Appointment

There are important steps that all clients should follow that you can start up to 1 year prior to your lip tattoo appointment. Following these steps carefully will ensure the best possible outcome for your lip tattoo.

The instructions below are generic, and you should instead follow the specific downloadable IVONNE Precare Guide, provided to you in your original confirmation email.

1 Year Before Your Appointment (If Possible)

Avoid using select skin care products containing certain ingredients. (See your appointment confirmation email for a complete downloadable IVONNE Precare Guide).

6 Months Before Your Appointment (If Possible)

Due to the potential for unknown ingredient concentration levels please avoid using any cosmetic or skincare products specified in your precare instructions, downloadable in your appointment confirmation email.

If you are using skincare products with ingredients that meet certain criteria you could be at risk for certain symptoms. Please refer to your downloadable IVONNE Precare Guide, for more information.

30 Days Before Your Appointment

Generally avoid the use of any skincare treatment that meets the criteria in your downloadable IVONNE Precare Guide, within the 30 days period leading up to your Lip Tattoo appointment.

2 Weeks Before Your Appointment

Avoid (sun) tanning and tanning beds for the 2 week period leading up to procedure.
Avoid taking any anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, or other medication that my caused increased bleeding.
Stay hydrated.

1 Week (7 Days Before Your Appointment)

Temporarily stop using the list of products in your downloadable IVONNE Precare Guide, available for download in your confirmation email.

48 Hours Before Your Appointment

Avoid important these important drugs and substances within the 48 hours leading up to your appointment. Using any should be done at your own risk. For a complete list of drugs and substances to avoid please refer to the downloadable IVONNE Precare Guide, in your confirmation email.

Remember to review and update your appointment consent forms using the “Review/Update Consent Forms” button in your confirmation email. 

24 Hours Before Your Appointment

Please stop taking the medications listed in your downloadable IVONNE Precare Guide, available for download in the appointment confirmation email.

On The Day Of Your Appointment

Avoid those items listed in your precare guide. Be sure to eat something 2-3 hours prior to your appointment. Recommendations for snack ideas and personal items to bring with you are available in your downloadable IVONNE Precare Guide, available for download in the appointment confirmation email.

Lip Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

Follow These Important Steps After Your Lip Tattoo Appointment

Your permanent make-up has been applied with sterile, single-use needles with the highest quality clinical pigments available. The quality of your results is dependent on you giving the proper care during the healing process from this point on. A few days of simple care will make a noticeable and permanent difference!

DAY OF PROCEDURE:

Maintaining the lips and removing of lymphatic fluid is necessary to prevent against heavy scabbing. Scabbing is one of the primary reasons for pigment loss during this early critical stage of healing. As part of your bedtime routine be sure to follow the instructions provided to you in your downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide, including the use of any aftercare product provided during your visit to the clinic.

Important: Maintain the lips in the recommended state, and be sure to follow all downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide instructions. Occasionally the lips may take on certain characteristics which will pass after the timeline set out in the aftercare guide.

DAYS 2 to 7

Lips may take on new characteristics during this time period. Be sure to follow the specified steps in the downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide, according to how the lip healing progresses.

Important: You will continue using any aftercare product for the period prescribed in the downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide. This will ensure that the lips are supported during their healing process; this promotes certain healing outcomes. Discontinue use according to the circumstances in your downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide.

Don’t Panic: Consult with your downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide to better understand how the lips will appear at specific intervals of the healing phase.

DAYS 1 Through 7 (or until scabs are gone)

AVOID those behaviors, habits and activities set out in your downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide. Doing so that this critical stage will help protect your lips.

Also be sure to avoid products with the ingredients listed in the aftercare guide to avoid any complications.

Next 4 Weeks

Touch-ups can only be performed no sooner than the time prescribed after the original appointment. It is not possible to perform a touch-up within the healing period and it is not advised to touch-up any earlier than what the downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide allows.

Some qualities of the healed results have been described in the downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide. Certain side effects as outlined in the guide are normal, and to be expected.

Lifelong Care to Maintain Lasting Colour

It is best to adopt a lifestyle that avoids activities found in your downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide.

Always use the prescribed products on the area as the external influences identified in your downloadable aftercare guide are responsible for poor retention. Avoid the use of those products outline din your downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide.

REMEMBER!

Your Lip Tattoo may appear a certain way as described in your downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide. This is part of tattoo healing. They may look as described in the guide. As soon as the area advances through the specified healing stage they will have the look that you desire. If you develop any of the issues listed in your downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide, please contact Ivonne directly at (613) 695-6662. If you have a history of symptoms from the guide, use the prescribed medication according to the instructions.

Note about pictures: We understand that clients enjoy seeing their own before and after photos, especially the fully healed results. If you would like to monitor the colour over time we strongly recommend following the photography steps as outlined in the downloadable IVONNE Aftercare Guide.

Lip Tattoo Maintenance Considerations

You should take note of several important things to maintain your lips. Remember:

  • Find a Skincare Routine. Great skin is the best foundation for any permanent makeup service. Adopt a consistent skincare routine and tackle any skincare concerns before investing in permanent makeup.
  • Maintain Your Skincare Routine. Adequately protected and hydrated skin that balances any excess oil is critical to support longer-lasting lip tattoo.
  • Schedule Your Appointments Around Botox, Fillers, or Surgery. Be sure to leave yourself enough space on either side of a Botox or filler service (2 weeks) and up to a month before or after any plastic surgery.
  • Temporarily Set Aside Exfoliants and Active Skincare. For the week before and after your lip tattoo avoid any skincare services or products that require the skin to undergo controlled injury and healing. Be sure to consult with the precare and aftercare instructions provided by your lip professional.
  • Avoid The Sun. Prevent from burning and prolonged exposure to sun around your lip tattoo appointment. Support your lip tattoo pigment retention by avoiding sun tanning/burning altogether.
  • Plan Ahead. Great lip tattoo professionals are often booked for months in advance. Be sure to pre-book your touch-ups and annual colour boosts.
  • Schedule Your Lips Regularly. Be sure to schedule your annual colour boosts in advance. This will keep your lips looking fresh, and protect your investment.

How To Fix Bad Lip Tattoo

It might seem like a good idea to choose a lower-cost, or first-available option when scheduling lip tattoo. This can sometimes lead to unexpected or undesirable results. Receiving bad lip tattoo can be emotionally difficult, time consuming, and cost considerably more than if you had made a different choice.

If you or someone you know has recently had a bad experience with lip tattoo then please consider these options:

  • Immediately make contact with your lip professional so that they can hear your feedback, and provide you with guidance and instruction. If they are unwilling to work with you then reach out to their master trainer, or certifying body in case they can refer you to an alternative resource.
  • If your lip professional is no longer available, or you do not feel comfortable working with them again then you can also ask your social network for recommendations for a new provider, sending them the criteria from this webpage.

Keep in mind that lip tattoo cannot be removed from the lips. So making the right choice is very important.

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