Permanent Cosmetics and Paramedical Tattooing: Is it right for you?

From eyebrow shaping to eyeliner, scar camouflage to covering hair loss, permanent cosmetics and paramedical tattooing are affordable ways to strategically draw attention to or conceal facial features. Desire Dalrymple, owner and aesthetician at Permanent Cosmetics By Desiree in Rochester says, “Permanent cosmetics can be life-changing for people on all levels and can help real women feel like themselves…beautiful.”  


Permanent cosmetics are shade-matched pigments implanted into the skin (similar to an artistic tattoo) to minimize or eliminate the need for daily makeup application. The pigments are specifically selected to be a perfect reflection of the pink of one’s lips or the shade of one’s lashes and eyebrows. 

The term “permanent” is a bit misleading. “Semi-permanent” is more accurate. The treatment fades over time and typically lasts from a year and a half to three years. Traditional tattoo ink can last even longer. 



It’s hard to argue the convenience of always having perfectly shaped eyebrows or ever-there eyeliner. Permanent cosmetics are sought after by female athletes, professionals, entertainers, models and moms. Permanent cosmetics can also be a help to women who have allergies or sensitivity to traditional makeup. 

Women with arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, tremors, vision problems or blindness may find putting on makeup a nearly impossible daily task. Permanent cosmetics can offer both relief and convenience. Dalrymple notes that such clients find it liberating to remove the daily struggle of applying makeup. 


Paramedical tattooing is tattooing performed by a licensed aesthetician, not for body decoration or art, but to discreetly enhance one’s appearance by diminishing the appearance of scars or other imperfections. For men and women who have lost their hair due to medical treatments like chemotherapy, permanent eyebrows and the restoration of the appearance of hair can boost self-confidence. A skilled aesthetician can help mask the symptoms of medical conditions like alopecia (complete absence of hair) and vitiligo (loss of pigment in the skin causing patchiness). 

Paramedical tattooing can diminish the appearance of scars and burns or “reconstruct” the areola after breast surgery. It can also disguise facial imperfections such as a cleft lip.


Dalrymple hones 20 years of experience in body art, permanent cosmetics, paramedical tattooing and skin care to help both male and female clients feel beautiful. Each client starts with a consultation to discuss what the client wants and how they want it to look. Goals of the treatment are discussed and defined.

Once the plan is set, Dalrymple uses a topical anesthetic to numb the area and draws guidelines on the face before beginning the procedure. She uses relaxation and visualization tactics to help clients keep calm throughout the visit. The procedure usually takes 30 minutes to an hour, and the entire experience takes about two hours. 

Clients should expect swelling and initial fading of ink over a few days. Four to six weeks after the initial appointment the client returns for a touch-up to fix any fading and to add highlights and any further definition desired. 


Permanent cosmetics and paramedical tattooing are not for everyone. Those taking blood thinners, people with diabetes, high anxiety or folks prone to eye infections may want to consult with a doctor first. The medical risks, while relatively rare, include infection, allergy to pigments, granulomas and scarring.

Discomfort during permanent cosmetic procedures or paramedical tattooing procedures depends on the procedure, personal pain tolerance and skill of the technician. Where artistic tattooing commonly does not use anesthetics, permanent cosmetic procedures and paramedical tattoos typically use topical anesthetics and desensitizing products to make the procedures as pain-free as possible. 



Erin Pagel is a freelance writer living in Rochester.