Updated: Nov 21, 2020
What is Lip Blush?
“Lip blushing is a form of semi-permanent makeup that is now available at Bellissimo Spa in Friendswood. Essentially, it is a cosmetic tattoo of the lips that enhances the beauty of the natural lip color, improving the shape of the lips, giving definition and the illusion of fullness,” said Christina Son, owner of Sugarin Studio in Los Angeles. “This treatment delivers very natural results, once healed. Filler is great for creating volume in your lips, but lip blush delivers a more natural look and give the illusion of fuller lips.”
Here's how it works: A tiny mechanized needle deposits pigment into the lips, which builds layers of color. Son explained that it can be a corrective service to help even out the tone of the lips, but it can also help with asymmetry. The service can cost anywhere between $500-$1500 per appointment, depending on where you live.
Unlike traditional permanent cosmetic tattoos, lip blushing is an evolved service that’s meant to provide natural looking, long-lasting results. Christopher Drummond, licensed aesthetician and cosmetic tattoo master at PFRANKMD Skin Salon in New York, who has been offering permanent makeup services for the past seven years, has seen the evolution first-hand.
“Traditional permanent makeup uses a strong machine, synthetic pigments, and is embedded deep in the dermis. The permanent makeup of today is very different—we use organic pigments and modern, digital tools,” he said. “The results are much more natural looking.”
“Nowadays, the industry has developed great new techniques, like gentler machines and advanced semi-permanent makeup pigments,” mimicked Son. “I use high quality vegan line pigments. In the past, traditional carbon-based tattoo ink produced harsh results that would age to an unappealing color.”
How Permanent Is It?
Similar to a cosmetic service like microblading—which utilizes a blade to manually create small cuts in the skin, which are then filled with ink—the results vary person to person. Generally, lip blushing can last several years, although your lifestyle contributes to how well it maintains; smoking and sun exposure can speed up the fading process, and if you’re oil-prone, have an iron deficiency or use a lot of exfoliating products in your skin regimen, the pigment could fade more quickly, too.
A tattoo on the lips sounds painful—especially for someone who might be looking for an alternative to getting injected with filler. Son said most of her clients rate it three or four out of ten, with ten being the most painful; Drummond said his clients say there’s little to no discomfort. Both numb the lips prior to the service. If you’re worried about your pain tolerance, a pain reliever like Tylenol can be taken prior to the appointment; should avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, though, since they can thin the blood and cause more sensitivity. Drummond also suggests avoiding fish oil and vitamin E.
What to Expect From Your Appointment
So what happens in an appointment? First, there’s pout prep. A topical anesthetic is applied to pre-numb the lips for 20 minutes. Afterwards, the technician will draw the shape of the “new” lips so that you can evaluate and make any changes.
“Generally, I love to make the cupid’s bow a little more pronounced and add fullness to the sides of the lips, as sometimes the natural color is lost in those areas. Once the client is happy with the shape, we begin the actual tattooing,” said Son.
The procedure takes place over the course of an hour to an hour and a half, if not longer, depending on the look you’re going for. Once the appointment is completed, your lips may be swollen—it is a tattoo, after all—so you can ice them if necessary. Over the next week, your lips will start to heal, meaning they may scab, so it’s important to time this carefully around your schedule.
“For the first 24 hours, I advise my clients to gently blot their lips with a wet cotton pad and let them air dry. This is to keep the lips clean and remove any body fluids that have surfaced and prevent the fluids from forming scabs.”
When it comes to scabs, it’s important that they fall off naturally—picking them can result in scarring or loss of pigment in those areas. Son also suggests avoiding workouts and sun exposure for two weeks (a great excuse to avoid the gym if we do say so ourselves) and if you plan on getting injections, wait a full month. Sleeping on your face could also cause the scabs to fall off prematurely. An occlusive ointment like Aquaphor should be worn to keep the lips properly moisturized. (But then again, Aquaphor should always be worn because it’s a god-send.)
Initially, the color will be super vibrant, almost like a lip stain. “It is important not to be misled by the immediate ‘after’ results. The immediate results look nothing like when the lips are healed. Once healed, the color fades approximately 30-50 percent and also blends in with the natural lip color,” Son said.