5 mins


Semi-permanent make-up treatments are growing in popularity – be it bold brows, enhanced eyes or a perfectly tinted pout. Melanie Macleod explores the different techniques available

When performed by a highly skilled technician, semi-permanent make-up (SPMU) can wake up even the most tired complexions, with microblading, lip blushing and eye enhancement techniques all helping clients to look fresh in the morning without an ounce of effort on their part. “We live such fast-paced lives and most clients just want to wake up and go. They haven’t got the time to start measuring and drawing on their eyebrows, so permanent make-up is the perfect time-saving solution,” says Laura Kay, director of SPMU training academy Laura Kay London.

Fellow SPMU expert Tracie Giles, owner of the eponymous permanent make-up and aesthetics clinic and academy, agrees. “Semi-permanent make-up is an amazing solution for both saving time and transforming your customer’s look,” she adds. Indeed, SPMU previously had a reputation for being reserved for mature clients, with blocky brows and harsh liner the looks that used to spring to mind, but advances in technology and techniques are making the art something everyone can benefit from, no matter their age.

“Clients are realising how beautifully natural semi-permanent make-up can look when applied professionally,” says Karen Betts, chief executive of K.B Pro, which delivers SPMU training programmes and has a range of pigments available. “It’s all about enhancing the natural features rather than covering them up.”

The SPMU sector is also seeing dramatic change in terms of inclusivity for all skin tones, with the recent forming of The Black Micropigmentation Association – an organisation started by four black women who were disillusioned by the lack of representation of darker skin tones in the SPMU industry.

With so many innovations and techniques in SPMU, it can be hard to decide which to train in. We take a deep dive into the most in-demand treatments to help you decide which best suits your menu and clientele.

Semi-permanent brow treatments: microblading vs nanoblading

Brows are often the first area to spring to mind when you think of semi-permanent make-up, with microblading high on many clients’ wish list. “Semi-permanent brows can enhance your client’s unique facial features,” says Giles.

“The treatments can be used to create the illusion of fuller, more defined brows – whether the client has a lot of natural eyebrow hair or none at all. They can also be used to lift the brows by building in a higher arch and tail, which can be anti-ageing.”

Microblading is the most requested treatment technique in Kay’s clinic because “it provides perfectly sculpted, lustrous brows,” she says. It works by placing pigment into the upper layers of the skin using a precision hand tool to create a desired fullness and shape. For younger clients, you can create the fluffy, laminated brow trend for fuller, natural-looking brows.

Meanwhile, nanoblading uses a similar technique, but with a slightly finer blade to create the lightest of hair strokes, mimicking the appearance of real hair for a more subtle result. Both techniques are safe for all complexions. However, if your client has oily skin then they may not be so well suited to either as oil in the skin can dilute the effect.

With microblading, there is also a tendency for new brow trends to come and go, so make sure your client is happy to rock their chosen look for up to a year. It’s also worth explaining to clients that mature skin tends to hold pigment longer due to slower cell renewal, so they’d be committing to the look on a longer-term basis.

However, for a brow look that suits all ages, skin types and preferences, you could offer ombré brows instead. The technique creates shape and definition, with a darker inner brow that lightens to the end, and is a look is popular with ultra-glam clients.

Semi-permanent lip treatments: contour and blush vs liner

With mask wearing still common place during the pandemic, a semi-permanent colour is the way forward when it comes to defined lips that stay put. “Clients are looking for that perfect lip that won’t smudge or budge, even when they wear a mask,” explains Betts.

Meanwhile, other clients are excited to make a feature of their lips again after keeping them concealed for so long, which is another reason for the boom in popularity of SPMU lips. But, which technique should you offer on your menu?

The lip contour technique creates a permanent, full lipstick look by depositing pigments of ink into the lips using small needles. “This is perfect for those who like to look glam all the time and can’t go anywhere without their lippy,” says Kay.

For a more subtle look, offer your clients lip blush, which gives a softer effect to the lips, enhancing the natural shape and colour to give a boost of vitality.

“I find this treatment really popular with people who have lost pigment around the vermillion border,” says artist Gina Collins, who offers permanent make-up training courses at the Gina Collins Cosmetic Academy. “The results are extremely natural and suitable for all ages.”

Meanwhile, the more traditional technique of lip liner can either be used standalone or in conjunction with lip contour and lip blush to help define the outside edges of lips. “I’ve seen a rise in this simple but effective treatment of late, especially with clients who’ve had lip filler,” says Collins. “The pigment on the natural lip can look faded after aesthetic treatments, so adding a slight touch of colour can complement the lips and enhance their shape.”

Semi-permanent eye treaments: eyeliner vs enhancements

If your client is a slave to winged liner then permanent liner will trim their morning regime down no end. The technique defines the eye and can be applied on the top and/or bottom lashes, either for a natural look or a statement winged style.

Collins suggests proceeding with caution on this treatment though because if you lose elastin in the skin then a flicked liner could end up dragging the eye down – not a good look. “My advice is to keep it natural, or even try a subtler look first before opting for a more dramatic finish,” she explains.

Eyeliner enhancement is a better option for those who like a more natural look, Kay explains. It adds a slight definition to allow the lashes and eyes to stand out. “This is created by using small dots along the lash line rather than a full liner,” she explains.

Why everyone is talking about scalp pigmentation:

This technique is growing rapidly in popularity as it helps boost clients’ confidence if their hair is thinning. In fact, it’s becoming one of the most popular treatments for male clients, creating the look of real hair on the scalp.

“In this treatment, you use an electronically powered tattoo machine to implant pigment into the scalp in a way that mimics hairstrokes, for receding hairlines or bald patches, to create the illusion of a shaved head,” explains Giles.

This article appears in November 2021

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This article appears in...
November 2021
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