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How do I Become a Permanent Makeup Artist?

By Jennifer Voight
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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There are many routes to become a permanent makeup artist and usually include training programs, apprenticeships, or a combination of both. Training programs vary in length from two to five days or longer. Permanent makeup artistry may be practiced by cosmetologists, electrologists, estheticians, nurses, physicians, and tattoo artists. It is recommended that prospective permanent makeup artists follow up the initial training period with an apprenticeship or train under an experienced practitioner and instructor for several months to a year.

Permanent makeup is cosmetically applying pigmentation in the form of tattoos to resemble makeup on the skin of the face, eyelids, eyebrows, lips, and sometimes the cheeks. People may choose to undergo this procedure for a variety of reasons. Some may have permanent eyebrows applied to replace natural eyebrows lost due to alopecia or chemotherapy. Permanent makeup may disguise scars or white spots from vitilgo. Micropigmentation may be a choice for those suffering from allergies to traditional makeup or a vision impairment which prevents application of conventional makeup. Permanent makeup can also restore color to the breast areola after breast surgery.

Although procedures are frequently performed outside the tattoo parlor, permanent makeup artists are held to similar standards as tattoo artists. There are many risks involved in micropigmentation, including scarring, allergies, and undesirable cosmetic results. Licensing requirements to become a permanent makeup artist vary with location. Typically, the Board of Health of a country or state oversees licensing requirements. Certification in the United States is available through two organizations that seek to professionalize and standardize the industry.

To become a permanent makeup artist, most artists choose to attend a school that offers an initial training program that may be from two days to two weeks. When choosing a curriculum, students should look for courses in skin anatomy, makeup artistry, health considerations and sterilization techniques, equipment and pigments, and business and marketing. There are three methods of permanent makeup application currently available: the traditional coil machine, a rotary or pen machine, and the hand method. Courses should address all three methods so a general familiarity with strengths and weaknesses of each is covered. Another consideration is to find out the types of follow up support that are available.

Choice of instructor can affect the decision to become a permanent makeup artist. Ideally, an instructor should have a good combination of experience in the industry and teaching experience. Instructors should also take continuing education classes at least once per year to ensure the instructor has knowledge of the latest techniques in a rapidly changing and advancing industry.

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Discussion Comments
By andee — On Jul 07, 2012

I am interested in becoming a permanent makeup artist and wonder how much it costs to go through training and an apprenticeship program?

I see this as a growing business and would love to own my own salon someday where I offered these services. It sounds like if you allowed at least a year of permanent makeup training, you would be qualified to do this yourself.

That doesn't sound like too long of a time to invest if you knew you were going to be able to do this successfully when you were done. If the permanent makeup prices are reasonable enough for the average person, I think you could make a pretty good living doing this.

By John57 — On Jul 07, 2012

@SarahSon - I think the apprenticeship program, which should last for several months, is where the permanent makeup artists receive most of their training. This gives them the hands-on experience they need to be successful.

I have a niece who is currently going through a program like this. She has been working along with someone for at least 6 months and still has not done a procedure on a client by herself. She is getting close, but they are pretty strict about making sure she is well trained.

She does need to get some hands-on training during this time, so I was able to have an eyebrow tattoo done, supervised by her instructor. This was my first experience with any kind of tattooing, and I felt confident knowing I was using someone who knew what they were doing.

By SarahSon — On Jul 06, 2012

The initial training program sure doesn't seem very long for someone interested in being a permanent makeup artist. I know I wouldn't feel very confident using someone who was not very qualified to do this.

There also seems to be a wide range of places you can have this done. It sounds like you could have this done from a tattoo artist as well as a physicians office.

I know several women who have received a permanent makeup tattoo and they have all been pleased with the results. As far as I know, none of them used a tattoo artist, but went to a clinic that offered these services.

By LisaLou — On Jul 06, 2012

My sister is a permanent makeup artist and she works in an office that is associated with a dermatologist. This is a growing practice and she really enjoys what she does.

I know she is required to take ongoing education to keep up on the latest changes and techniques. Because permanent makeup is still fairly new, there is still a lot to learn and there are always changes and new procedures.

She has some customers that have had more than one procedure done. A customer may initially come in just for an eyebrow tattoo, and if they get the results they are hoping for, will eventually come back for more permanent makeup.

I haven't had anything done yet, but am leaning toward getting permanent eyeliner. I am glad I have someone I can go to that I know and trust. I think when it comes to finding someone to do this, you want to make sure you use someone who is not only qualified, but experienced as well.

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