Semi-permanent make-up & microblading
In this section we will cover the topic of semi-permanent make up and microblading, and why it may be something you may like to consider. Over the last few years the use of semi-permanent make-up has become much more widely available and is used by women and men to enhance their look as well as for people who are experiencing temporary or permanent hair loss.
Before we go into details about this procedure it is really important to point out that most doctors will not give approval for you having semi-permanent makeup during cancer treatment. This is due to any possible allergic reaction or cross infection following the procedure. Their concern is that in the event of a problem it could cause a delay to your treatment. However, many people have told us that they chose to have semi-permanent make-up before or after treatment without any issues.
At present, facial semi-permanent make-up is not available on the NHS so you will have to pay privately.
Things are changing all the time and cancer specialists are now beginning to really understand how much anxiety the loss of eyebrows and lashes can cause people. If this becomes important to you and you want to try semi-permanent make-up during treatment, we advise that you talk with a nurse or health professional.
In some cases doctors have approved the procedure even during treatment. You must have a sensitivity test 24 to 48 hours prior to semi-permanent make-up application.
An overview of semi-permanent make-up:
- Natural or bold looks can be created and tailored for your needs and style
- Individual eyebrow hairs can be mimicked or eyeliner used to give eyes definition
- Saves time on applying false lashes and make-up
- You can customise and apply make-up over the top to enhance the shape
- Waterproof and smudge-free – great for people who sweat a lot (e.g. wig wearing)
- Long lasting between 2 to 3 years (with top up’s)
Things to be aware of
You must have a Sensitivity test 24 to 48 hours prior to application
In most cases you need to have semi-permanent make-up or microblading applied before starting chemotherapy treatment
Imperfections and dissatisfaction – the shape, look and feel may not be what you thought. Do your research first and ask your technician to show you photos of other people that they have treated
As with wig supply, hairdressing and many cosmetic services, the industry is not regulated so always look for someone who has training and case studies available of their work to show you
Over the last few years microblading, a semi-permanent style of make-up for brows has become very popular.
Microblading is a form of tattooing; it is carried out using a blade, which is made up of a row of fine needles. The blade is dipped into a coloured pigment (ink) and then placed into the upper layer of the skin with a slicing motion to create fine hair like strokes. The results are natural looking fuller eyebrows.
At the time of writing, our guidance is the following:
- You are always best advised to ask your medical team if there is any ‘medical’ reason why you can’t go ahead and have semi permanent make-up/microblading
- You should look for a reputable and experienced cosmetic practitioner and ensure you have the relevant ‘sensitivity’ tests
- Ask to see examples – all reputable practitioners will have a portfolio of examples
- Think through the timings of procedures – plan
- Seek a balanced view – look at the NHS cosmetic procedures guide
Common pathway for semi-permanent make-up/micro blading
Chemotherapy that causes total hair loss:
- It is usually okay to go ahead with the procedure prior to treatment (and usually upon approval of your GP for the practitioner’s insurance purposes).
- It is usually not recommended during treatment due to the possibility of infection and complications
- It is usually okay to go ahead 3 weeks post chemotherapy treatment
Other cancer treatments
We recommend that you speak with your medical team. Most of the time they are likely to stick to the above 3 points however, if you are not experiencing any changes or problems to the skin on your face and do not have any other medical issues they may well say it’s okay to go ahead even during treatment.
NHS cosmetic procedures recommendations:
Let’s look at semi-permanent make-up in more detail:
- What is semi-permanent make-up?
- How is it applied and how long will it last?
- What happens at an appointment?
- How much does it cost?
What is semi-permanent make-up?
Semi-permanent make-up is a method of creating long-term effects that simulate make-up looks such as eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, lip liner and lipstick. In the case of hair loss the method is often used to re-create a brow, lashes and enhance features. Depending on your individual requirements a natural or bold look can be created.
There are several terms used to describe semi-permanent make-up including ‘cosmetic make-up’, ‘cosmetic tattooing’, ‘permanent make-up’, ‘semi-permanent make-up’ and the abbreviation ‘SPMU’. During this section we will use the words semi-permanent make-up to apply to all these.
How is it applied and how long will it last?
Semi-permanent make-up is a method of inserting small amounts of appropriately selected coloured pigments into the skin using fine probes (needles – similar to tattooing). These pigments go through the outer and deeper layer of the skin to create an effect that will last for a period of time, unlike regular make-up that has to be applied and removed daily.
What happens at an appointment?
Enhancing eyebrows is one on the most popular services. Permanent make-up artists are used to helping people who have all types of hair loss problems from alopecia, scarring and burns to people like you with hair loss due to cancer treatments.
In the case of creating a look for people with no eyelashes, a technician can offer definition of the eyes with eyeliner looks that can really help to enhance the eyes.
Taking eyebrows as an example, at an initial consultation they will normally discuss your requirements and pencil on a shape to get your agreement on the look you require. They will explain the procedure, costs and top up treatments needed.
It is very important to know that after the initial application the brow will look darker and more prominent than it will after a few weeks. The brow may also be red and maybe sore for a few days.
It can be painful; an anesthetic cream is usually applied to help with any discomfort. After around 4 weeks the technician will normally need to top up the shape and define the look.
How much does it cost?
Prices vary, but at the time of writing it can start at £150 for two eyebrows plus an additional amount for the 4 week top up service. A number of technicians will offer a discount to people who are undergoing cancer treatment, so it’s always worth asking.
Most importantly, make sure that you check out the permanent make up artist you are using. Make sure they are credible and ask for details of their qualification or training and testimonials. Ask also to see a portfolio of people they have worked on.
One of the most important things is that you feel comfortable and confident in the person offering you this service. Some wig suppliers offer the service and you can also approach hairdressers and beauty salons for recommendations.
Next planned review: February 2022