Cosmetic Contour Tattoos Are Going Viral On TikTok, But Are They Really Safe?

“Why is no one talking about the fact that our skin changes colors during the summer, for example?” asked one commenter.

“I feel like this is riskier than when eyebrows and lips were in,” wrote another user.

“It’s not going to cause breakouts?” asked a third.

Well, according to The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, permanent cosmetic makeup– also known as cosmetic tattooing– is safe as long as proper sterilization and disinfection guidelines are adhered to. Some of these standards include the use of new and sterile needles, disposable sterilized one-time-use machine parts, and personal protective equipment such as gloves and aprons.

The average cost per procedure– which can include anything from eyebrow filling and eye lining to scar camouflage– is between four hundred and eight hundred dollars. Of course, though, more intricate or complex work could cost anywhere from one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars per hour.

It is also important to note that although cosmetic tattoos are widely referred to as “semi-permanent” in popular media, they cannot be washed off. Instead, the organization clarified that cosmetic tattoos are permanent but will endure fading– which is why many people regard the services as a shorter-term makeup solution.

“Permanent cosmetic procedures are considered permanent because the pigment is tattooed into the upper reticular part of the dermal layer of the skin and cannot be washed off. However, as with any tattoo or colorant (pigment) in general, fading can and often does occur, requiring periodic maintenance referred to as color re-enhancement or color refreshing.”

Now, of course, there are risks to getting tattoos that cannot be avoided by best tattooing practices alone.

The most obvious is an infection, which can be caused if unsterile tattooing equipment is used– transferring infectious diseases such as hepatitis, HIV, and staph-caused skin infections. Infections can also result from contaminated tattoo inks, even if a tattoo artist has strictly followed hygienic procedures.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), those who seek cosmetic tattoos could also suffer allergic reactions, keloid formation (or scars), and granulomas. Granulomas are “nodules that may form around material that the body perceives as foreign, such as particles of tattoo pigment.”

Finally, those who get tattooed run the risk of encountering removal problems– because even with the advent of laser technology, removing a tattoo is still a long, painstaking, and expensive process.

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