22 months ago I had my first experience of semi-permanent tattoing at Whitethorn Fields Mediclinic when I had my eyebrows tattoo’d by Caron Vetter, followed 2 months later by my upper eyeliner too. I love how it corrected my sparse brows and balanced and defined my eyes, giving me effortlessly flawless makeup everyday that didn’t rub off, smudge or run no matter how often I worked out, showered or got caught in the rain. The procedure works by implanting pin pricks of pigment under the skin to create the appearance of hair where there is none.
As you can see from the picture above, after 22 months my eyebrows and eyeliner had almost entirely faded away to my natural shape and colour, with the pigment having subtly dispersed with time. It is recommended that you have a colour boost treatment every 18months in order to maintain your semi-permanent makeup, as unlike a traditional tattoo which uses ink, the SPMU needles use pigment which doesn’t go as deep into the skin of the face because the colour would blur and lose definition. For the initial procedure of SPMU two treatments are required four weeks apart in order for the pigment to take, however for a colour boost, only a single treatment is needed every 18 months to maintain the colour, so I returned to Whitethorn Fields Mediclinic for a colour boost on my eyebrows and eyeliner by the very talented Caron Vetter.
‘Caron Vetter MBA Bt & C is a Director of Whitethorn Fields MediClinic. Caron is one of the leaders in medical micropigmentation in the UK. She is professionally trained and has more than 20 years experience carrying out procedures in support of surgeons, both private and within the NHS. Having successfully completed Paramedical Tattoo training in the USA, Caron became one of the first specialists in the UK to provide areola restoration to patients undergoing breast reconstruction following breast cancer. This practice Caron has extended to include the creation of permanent eyebrows, eyeliner and lip liner.’
The procedure typically takes about an hour, and as I had my eyebrows and eyeliner done at the same time it was just under two hours for both of the colour boosts. Caron began by cleansing my eyes and brows to remove any makeup, product or dirt that was in the area, before measuring and marking where my brows should start, end and how high the arch should reach. I was very pleased with my previous SPMU brows, and when they are first tattoo’d they appear very bold and dark which looks quite striking and can be a very dramatic change compared to the brows you’re used to. However as they heal they soon lighten off and settle to look natural, which surprised me as I realised that I really enjoyed my bold striking brows and so this time I decided to go a little darker than before.
Everybody has different reasons and requirements for having SPMU, which is why each procedure is entirely unique and tailored to suit your needs. The reason I have my eyebrows and eyeliner tattoo’d is because I have fair hair and pale skin so my features literally disappear on my face and without makeup my eyes look sunken. I also have uneven brows which start from two different points in the middle and are also different widths, throwing off the balance of my face and so SPMU corrects this which is something that I’d be unable to get so precise with a brow pencil or powder. Others may want SPMU to subtly fill in the gaps in hair that is sparse or over-plucked, it can also be used to cover over a scar or create hair in an area where there simply is none. SPMU works by drawing on hair flicks alongside your natural hair to create a fuller and more defined feature.
A numbing cream is applied to help desensitise the skin and the SPMU tattoo’ing can begin. Eyebrows can be created in a number of ways depending on the results that you desire. Some ladies, as well as gentlemen, like to have solidly defined brows, for which a cluster of needles in a machine can implant a powder block of dark colour to fill in the brow area without leaving any gaps, just like a brow pencil would. Others wish to add a very discreet shape and length to their brows to perfect them without looking as though anything has been done, for this a microblade can be used which is a new technique that involves using a fine blade by hand to individually implant the pigment in very fine hairstrokes at different angles to give the appearance of real hair. The handset that Caron used to colour boost my brows today is a new technology to create hyperealistic brows, with machined lines of pigment in different directions leaving gaps to give the appearance of a natural brow with greater definition, the best of both worlds and exactly what I wanted.
As the area is numbed, at the very worst you feel a scratch when the needle first goes over, with more cream applied throughout so after a couple of minutes I couldn’t feel a thing and there’s no need to be concerned about flinching or moving as it’s a fairly controlled procedure which can be stopped at any time should you need to sneeze, speak or rest. I happily laid with my eyes closed as Caron completed my eyebrows and upper eyeliner, with my eyes occasionally filling with water when working on the corners of my eyes or close to the lash line, but it certainly wasn’t uncomfortable and I happily chatted throughout. Immediately after treatment the area can look slightly red and swollen and the colour will appear a lot darker than you may be expecting, but as it heals it lightens off typically within four to six weeks and the true colour is revealed.
For my eyebrows I went for a dark brown which is slightly deeper than my first SPMU brows, as my natural hair colour is a 7 which is dark blonde to light brown, and I wanted to try bolder brows because I loved the definition of my freshly tattoo’d brows from last time before they healed lighter. I also changed the colour of my upper eyeliner, as I usually wear black liner and love how it brings out my eyes and makes my lashes look fuller. However with my lashes being naturally fair I decided to try a dark brown liner this time to accentuate the shape of my eye without necessarily looking like I’m wearing makeup. And if I want a more full-on and darker look in the evening I can add pencil to the outer edges to create a flick or add extra width.
Following my treatment I was given an aftercare booklet and vitamin A&D ointment to take home with me. The healing process takes around a week, with the colour gradually fading for around two weeks, however everybody is different. Following treatment the area should be kept dry and clean for the first 48hrs, after which the vitamin A&D ointment can be applied twice a day for five days to prevent the area from drying out too quickly and the scabs coming off too soon as this can remove the colour. You should avoid touching the area and stay away from soap and cleansers for the first 48hrs. Hot baths, steamy kitchens and heat can effect the healing so sunbeds are off limits as is swimming or bleaching until the scabs have come off.
The scabs should be allowed to form and fall off naturally and should never be picked or pulled as this will effect the end result. Over the next 4-6weeks the colour will change and fade and in areas it may even disappear completely. As this is my colour boost I already have pigment under my skin from my initial treatment 22 months ago, so I am expecting my eyebrows and eyeliner to heal and need no retouching, however should it heal unevenly or I feel that I need to make changes I can have a repeat procedure in 6weeks time. It’s a good idea to eat before a treatment to ensure your blood sugar levels are where they should be, avoid wearing makeup, perfume or eyelash extensions to the area treated, and if you usually wear contact lenses then bring your glasses along instead so as not to agitate the eye area when healing.
Right now my eyebrows and eyeliner don’t sting or feel uncomfortable at all and the numbing cream has worn off, but as the treatment has finished it isn’t needed anyway. I haven’t taken any painkillers and I’m fine to go about my day as usual, aside from my eyelids looking slightly puffy and a little red around the immediate area.
UPDATE: 13/12/14 – Healing Day 1
Today is day one of healing and my eyebrows and eyeliner are starting to tighten and I am aware of them instead of usually not noticing your eyes at all. It’s not stiff like a normal scab would be, but the first few times that I blinked this morning I did it slow and gentle to ease the movement of my eyes as it felt warm. As you can see, my eyelids are still a little swollen along the top of the lid but the redness has now completely gone. As my eyebrows and eyeliner are perfectly in place I have no need to wear any makeup, but I’ll put some foundation on tonight to go for dinner making sure that I avoid the eye area. I have one more day of keeping my eyes clean and dry until I can start applying the vitamin A&D ointment to stop the scabs from drying out too quickly, and last night I found the best way to sleep was on my back so as not to rub my face on the pillow, and it also worked well to ball the pillow up under my neck with my hand in front of my face so that I could sleep on my side. I was slightly cautious of not catching my eyes on the pillow when trying to get to sleep but soon drifted off and it didn’t bother me at all and there’s no pigment on my white pillows.
I will post pictures here to show you the healing process and results of my SPMU colour boost, and should you have any questions or comments for me please feel free to leave them in the box below. I hope that you can see how a professional and safe treatment can be carried out by an expert and that you now have an idea of what to expect should you choose to have the same procedure yourself. Always consult a professional and do not be lured in by cheap deals or cheesy gimicks because your health and appearance is far too important to live with lifelong disfiguring consequences for the sake of a bargain.
UPDATE: 14/12/14 – Healing Day 2
Today is my final day of dry healing and my eyebrows and eyeliner have settled lovely with no redness left at all. The swelling has also completely gone and aside from the odd time when I’ve brushed a hair away from my face and knocked my finger onto a tender eyebrow, I wouldn’t have noticed they were even there. The skin is raised up and firm, much like a traditional tattoo, and the colour sits dark and bumpy on the surface. As I have my natural eyebrow hair within my SPMU eyebrows it hopes to hide the scabbing which is very discreet. I’m finding cleaning my face no different to usual as I use a makeup wipe to remove the foundation on my cheeks and don’t apply any to my eyes or forehead. I also took a shower today and washed my hair, being careful not to take too long or the steam would soften my scabs, and I very carefully patted my face dry with a paper towel so as not to catch or snag my brows.
UPDATE: 15/12/14 – Healing Day 3
Today I applied my vitamin A&D ointment for the first time and I look like a bit of a sleek duck with it on, as it makes my eyebrows and eyeliner appear wet and shiny. It’s not massively obvious unless you look closely, and it feels beautifully soothing when I apply it with a clean finger from the sachet. I haven’t noticed any scabs lifting or drying out yet which is good as it means that the pigment can heal in properly. I’m really pleased with the results so far.
UPDATE: 16/12/14 – Healing Day 4Today is day 4 of healing and as you can see I have my vitamin A&D ointment slicked into my brows and upper eyelids like a rather fetching sealion. My eyebrows feel as though they are raised and very defined as the scabs are taking shape nicely and I apply my ointment twice a day so as not to dry them out. It just looks like I’ve loaded my eyebrows with a dark pencil and I don’t think it’s obvious that I’ve had them tattoo’d, as most people just think I have ridiculously dark eyebrows through choice compared to my dark blonde hair colour as you do! My eyeliner is being equally well behaved and I’ve had no problems with either at all. I love how well my eyes are healing and the strong and perfect definition it has given to my face.
UPDATE: 17/12/14 – Healing Day 5Today my scabs are beginning to lift off in little brown flakes. They start off shaking themselves loose in clumps and then standing up in my hair before dropping out. I haven’t pulled them at all, as removing the scabs early can result in the pigment being drawn out and needing a second application. Where the scabs are coming away you can notice the difference in colour as the skin beneath is a medium brown instead of the almost black of the scab. My eyeliner has stayed surprisingly unfazed and I haven’t felt it stiffening or any scabs coming off as I was expecting, it just looks perfect and I no longer have to apply any eye makeup which saves me so much time in the morning as I just gloss my lips and go!
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