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Permanent makeup is colored pigment injected into your skin to create well-defined eyebrows, eyeliner and lipstick. Like any tattoo, permanent makeup fades over time. How quickly it fades depends on the individual and can vary from one to five years.

How It's Applied

Permanent makeup is applied to your skin using a special handheld device. It features a needle that punctures the skin to inject a colored pigment. The organic pigment is embedded under the dermal layer of skin for long-lasting definition. This cosmetic tattoo process is considered permanent because you cannot rinse off the tattooed color. However, permanent makeup is truly only a semi-permanent application, because the ink under your skin naturally fades over time.

Tattoos and Fading

All tattoos are susceptible to fading, but the inks used for permanent makeup are especially likely to fade. The colors used in permanent makeup procedures, compared to inks used for traditional tattoos, are softer and more natural, which makes them more susceptible to fading.

Several other factors affect fading: Ink color: Lighter ink colors fade more quickly than darker ones. Exposure to UV rays: Sun exposure and tanning beds can speed up the fading process. * Skin treatments: Skin peels and use of products with Retin-A, a form of vitamin A that encourages skin renewal, can also lead to a shorter life for permanent makeup.

Removal Options

Even though permanent makeup offers only semi-permanent results, the tattooed ink is difficult to remove before it fades on its own. No safe home treatments exist to fade or remove permanent makeup. However, you can ask a makeup technician or a dermatologist about softening the appearance. Techniques include: Laser removal: Several laser treatments can remove the tattoo ink from your skin. Color camouflage: Your technician can mask the permanent makeup color with another tattoo application in a slightly different color.

The safest way to remove permanent makeup is to let it fade naturally over time, a process than can take 18 months or longer, according to the Nouveau Clinic, which provides cosmetic restoration services.

Refreshing Your Look

The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals recommends color re-enhancement or color refreshing to maintain permanent makeup. Typically, between one to five years after your initial application, you can visit your technician to enhance the original color and fill in faded areas. During this process, you have the opportunity to change the makeup shape or color as well.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.