Permanent makeup is increasingly on the rise in the UK, why bother applying it everyday when you can have it put on for the next year or so?
There are plenty of reasons why women decide to have this done, with post-surgery hangups being one of them.
Karen Betts is the number one permanent make-up beautician in the UK. She works with thousands of epople per year and with countless celebrities - her Harley Street Clinic is booked up for months. She also appears as a beauty expert on ITV1's This Morning, C5's Big Brother and C4's 10 Years Younger.
Karen is the MD of the largest training centre of permanent makeup in Europe, Nouveau beauty Group and works with countless charities, including Breast Cancer Haven – she is also the official 2012 PM beautician for The Katie Piper Foundation.
We had a chat with her about permanent makeup to see what all the fuss is about.
How did you get into this particular area of beauty?
I personally ventured into this field after a childhood friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was not content with being just a pillar of support and wanted to be able to do more. At the time I ran a hair and beauty salon and a conventional tattooist used to rent one of my rooms, it got me thinking that if you could adorn people’s bodies with such complex art why could you not develop a technique that would subtly enhance or replace facial features such as eyebrows. That is when I started my research and discovered a micropigmentation course in the States.
I trained to do permanent cosmetics and body art in 1996 with CD International and went on to complete an international training certificate at the Lemor Institute in America.
I have spent the last fifteen years honing my skills from around the world and today, I not only have six private clinic locations but also work in hospitals alongside NHS and private medical staff to offer treatments to cancer patients on the road to recovery. I am also consultant to many professional and charitable bodies such as The Breast Cancer Haven, Alopecia Society and since 2012 The Katie Piper Foundation.
Realising a gap in the permanent cosmetics industry for high quality training, I established Nouveau Contour in March 2001 to offer training and supply permanent cosmetics equipment. To date, Nouveau Contour has trained over 1000 technicians worldwide in permanent cosmetics and over 300 in advanced and paramedical procedures
It's not just about vanity; you've helped to increase people's self esteem after operations.
How does this make you feel and is there a particular case that sticks out in your mind that you can share with us?
All my clients are memorable in their own rights but 2 clients over the years have really pulled at my heartstrings and tested my capabilities. The first is a lady named Julie who was born with a cleft lip. Julie’s cleft lip has affected her confidence for as long as she can remember, aware that the shape of her lip had held her back and prevented her from making the most of her life I wanted to give Julie the perfect lip shape she had always dreamed of. To restore a cleft lip using permanent cosmetics requires a real level of skill that does not come over night but I am happy to state that Julie was overwhelmed with the results and quoted “Karen created the lip shape I had been looking for my whole life”. Her Smile and the big hug she gave me at the end of her treatment spoke volumes and I am not ashamed to say, made me cry.
The second lady many people will recognise as her recovery from a brutal acid attack in 2008 was documented in the TV series ‘Katie Piper – My Beautiful Face’. I was honoured when I was able to help Katie. Over a twelve month process, I was able to recreate Katie’s lips, brows and eye definition. Over time our personal and professional relationship developed and in 2012 I was announced as the official and exclusive permanent make-up consultant for The Katie Piper Foundation. Katie and her Foundation are well known in the UK for their charitable work which aims to make life easier for people living with burns and scars. Katie’s ambition is to help others in their quest to feel confident again in spite of their scars; the ethos of the charity mirrors my own personal believes and I am delighted that my skills are potentially going to help so many people. The feel good factor you get when you watch someone’s face light up after his or her treatment is just amazing!
When people ask for their eyebrows to be tattooed, do you get them asking for celebrity shapes? Is there one stand out that frequently gets asked?
Some of my clients do bring pictures of celebrities with them to indicate the shape they like the look of. Megan Fox and Kim Kardashian appear very popular. However, the first thing I explain to my clients is that our eyebrows not only frame our face but over 70% of our facial expressions depend on them. Therefore it is important that brow shapes are tailored to the individual as they have to suit their look, skin tone and personality. What someone likes and what will often enhance their own features can be very different.
How long does the permanent makeup last? Are touch ups necessary?
Although the procedure is known as permanent, the nature of the pigments and the depth to which they are infused means that fading will occur over time. The colour appears a little darker for the first few days but soon lightens and a re-touch is usually necessary after one to three months to achieve the perfect result. A colour boost every twelve to eighteen months will also keep your enhancements looking fresh and immaculate.
What are the dangers to having this done?
The main risk is choosing a poorly educated technician just because they may be less expensive. Permanent makeup should be considered exactly that – permanent. Whilst designed to fade you should always regard the treatment as irreversible and when deciding on your technician you should always research the company they trained with, the equipment and pigments they use and indeed when they last refreshed their skills. I would also recommend that you ask to view their portfolio and do not be afraid to ask if it is their own work they are presenting to you.
What sort of procedure do you go through?
Most clients that come to see me have already done their research into permanent make-up. They have usually looked at my website/portfolio and spoken with my staff. They will have been sent my brochure, a patch test and a number of forms to fill in prior to the consultation. At the consultation I go through all the forms including medical history to identify any possible contra indications. If the client is suitable we then discuss shape, colour and desired result. I begin by drawing the template and mixing colour options, once the client and I are 100% happy with this I start the treatment. During a treatment the pigment is placed at a depth of 0.5mm (much shallower than a standard tattoo) and is visible through the upper layers of the Skin. Single or multiple disposable needles are used for the procedure. There is little or no pain for the client: for instance, treating eyebrows will feel no more painful than having them tweezered on the ‘first pass’ and from then on the procedure is virtually painless. The nature of the pigments and the depth to which they are implanted means they will fade over time. The colour will appear a little darker for the first few days but soon lightens as the upper layers of the Skin are shed and replaced. A re-touch should be scheduled one to three months after the initial treatment to achieve a perfect result. The implanted pigment will fade over 18 to 24 months, thus the client will need to make another appointment for a colour boost.
Are there any instances when you would refuse to tattoo somebody?
Definitely, I am not afraid to turn people away if I think they either do not need permanent make-up, would not benefit from the end result or indeed are not in the right frame of mind. For the latter part I have to go with my gut instinct as I am not a doctor but over the years I have learnt to identify certain traits that are symptomatic of body dysmorphic disorder.
Where is the most difficult place to do?
For me personally it is not the treatments that are difficult as I have been doing this every day for the last 15 years but often people’s ignorance to the benefits of this treatment. I work tirelessly to raise awareness of how, with the help of permanent cosmetics, chemotherapy, as an example, doesn't have to mean that you lose control of how you look. However it's a message that needs many more voices, as there are still a large percentage of women living with the visible effects of cancer/alopecia who are unaware of how permanent make-up can help them.
It has taken the medical profession several years to take on board what permanent cosmetics can do for their patients after breast reconstruction. However when they see the benefits my skills create both physically and emotionally the word gets around and more and more medical professionals are recommending nipple areola tattoo as a finishing treatment to their patients.
Surgeons are realising the huge benefits of referring patients to consultants like myself who spend every day performing such treatments and understand the necessary balance between the remedial aspect but also the fun makeup side that can define a women and help build her confidence back up again.
Femalefirst Taryn Davies