The History of Permanent Cosmetics

The word ‘tattoo’ was first added to the English language by English-speaking sailors who got tattooed while on the Polynesian islands, and brought the tradition back to Europe with them. A tattoo is any mark made by inserting ink- or pigment- underneath the skin. The technical term is ‘dermal pigmentation. Typically, tattoos are employed as a type of body decoration or modification.

Permanent cosmetics are a technique where tattoos are used to replicate eye liner, lipstick, eyebrows or hair. Paramedical permanent makeup is using cosmetic tattooing to disguise skin discolorations such as scars or vitiligo. This technique can also be used to restore or enhance a woman’s areola after breast surgery or a mastectomy.

Permanent Cosmetics requires specialized education and training- a combination of dexterity, artistic and technical skill and communication with the client is what leads to the final look of the cosmetic procedure. You may also hear permanent cosmetics referred to as ‘derma pigmentation’, ‘micro pigmentation’ or ‘cosmetic tattooing.

Micropigmentation has actually been in use for thousands of years, with archaeological evidence showing tattoos on bodies as old as 3300 B.C. Egyptian and Nubian mummies are tattooed, as were the Incas, Mayans, Aztecs and Greeks. The tradition persists today- using tattooing to create beauty, prestige, and set oneself apart from the pack.

The first modern application of permanent cosmetics was by Sutherland MacDonald, in 1902 at his tattoo parlor in London. Mr. MacDonald became well known for tattooing an ‘all round delicate pink complexion’ on the cheeks, and he was followed by George Burchett in the 1930’s as a major developer of this technique.

Some modern micropigmentation techniques include:


Cosmetic micropigmentation is used to enhance eyebrows, eyes and lips- it’s waterproof and will not wash off or smear. Permanent makeup also saves time each day, as you won’t have to apply and re-apply makeup at the beginning of and then throughout the day. Lips can be made to look fuller, eyebrows can be even and symmetrical. Eyes can be lined to add definition and enhancement.

Reconstructing and Camouflage:

Permanent cosmetics can be used to cover scars, burns or small areas of vitiligo using flesh toned pigment, and areola can be reconstructed following breast augmentation, reduction or a mastectomy.

An ageless technique updated for today, permanent cosmetics can save you time and make you feel wonderful. Contact Huntington Academy today for more information or to schedule a consultation.