Permanently Beautiful: Amy Jensen's Permanent Cosmetics
Whatever my expectations were, they were greatly exceeded. The Permanent Cosmetics Clinic is tucked away, hidden among other offices in a small strip mall in Orem, Utah. Debbie Jensen, owner and operator of the clinic, greeted me warmly as I arrived. She was a “Barbie Doll” prototype. Long blond hair, tanned skin, makeup attractively applied (permanently of course), well-manicured nails, and trendy clothes. She seemed pleasant and comfortable to be with; character traits that I’ve concluded would weigh considerably in choosing a technician to permanently alter your face. Her offices were small but inviting. Certificates of course completion, achievements and membership papered the walls.
Organizations such as The National Cosmetic Tattooing Association, Softap Permanent Cosmetics, The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals and the local Health Department all recognize Debbie Jensen as a qualified and valued professional. Her conduct was extremely professional yet unassuming. She knows her business, knows the aesthetic and medical aspects of permanent cosmetics.
I had come to watch Mendee Henckey have her lips permanently lined. Why voluntarily have something that invasive done to your face? Vanity and convenience were Mendee’s reasons. “I love lipstick,” she says. “Now that I have a baby I don’t have as much time for myself.” Mendee was of course experiencing the sudden lack of personal time all mothers go through.
Mendee had already received the topical numbing agent, lidocaine, when I arrived. The lidocaine is applied and sets for twenty minutes or so to numb the top few layers of skin. While the lidocaine works its wonders, Debbie works hers. She asks Mendee if she has ever had a cold sore. If one of Debbie’s clients has had a cold sore, she requires them to obtain a prescription for an antiviral herpes medication. The medication must be oral, such as Valtrex or Zovirax. Topical antiviral ointments or creams contain alcohol, which will dry out the injected pigment. Debbie then asks Mendee if she has taken anything that might thin her blood, such as certain medications or any alcoholic beverage within the last 24 to 40 hours. Debbie also asks about her scarring tendencies. Do her scars generally heal well? Does she experience any hyper pigmentation (excess coloring of scar tissue)? Fair skinned people tend to heal better than those with darker complexions who tend to hyper pigment. A patch test on the bottom lip can give the client and the technician a better idea of the end results. Debbie notices a small dark spot on Mendee’s lip line that appears to be freckle. However, Debbie does not profess to be a dermatologist and therefore will not tattoo over that area until she has a doctor’s note.
The day of the procedure, Mendee will probably notice some swelling and tenderness around her mouth. Ibuprofen and ice packs are common ways to alleviate some of the discomfort. The lip color will be five to six shades darker at first than the desired color. A sunburn type scabbing will take place and start flaking and peeling around six to seven days after the tattooing. Debbie reminds Mendee not to pick at or pull off any of the flaking skin. This might pull out some of the pigment in areas not yet healed, thereby affecting the outcome. Debbie gives all of her clients Bacitracin ointment, a topical antibiotic, to use after the procedure. The Bacitracin acts as a barrier between the tender vulnerable skin and the environment while fighting off any possible infection. There’s to be no swimming, hot tubing or saunas for Mendee for at least two weeks after her procedure. All of these activities open the pores and can cause pigment to drain, again altering the desired outcome. Mendee will also need to remember to use a sunscreen on her lips from now on.
It’s time to start. Bringing a sample of your usual lip color is extremely helpful to the technician in determining the proper pigment color. Mendee does not have hers so Debbie shows her some samples until they both agree on the most suitable shade. With a red pen, Debbie dots an outline along Mendee’s lip line then waits for her approval. Debbie has skipped over the small freckle. Other than surgery, tattooing is the only way to change the shape of your lips. Debbie could give Mendee fuller or thinner lips depending on Mendee’s desires. After scrubbing her hands thoroughly, Debbie dons surgical gloves and begins opening the single use, sterilized, disposable needles and equipment. Debbie offers warm blankets and soothing music to aid in the relaxation of her clients.
Mendee leans back in the dentist style chair as Debbie gets situated. Debbie uses the fingers of her left hand to stretch the skin around the lip line while she begins tattooing with her right. The bleeding is very minimal. I can see Mendee tensing up. The first outline hurts the most. Debbie was very attentive to Mendee’s comfort and emotional state. After the first outline, more lidocaine is applied. Since the skin has now been broken, the numbing agent is far more effective. Debbie now tattoos in a circular motion, a technique call Ova-void. This blends the lip liner pigment, giving it a softer more natural look. The second application of lidocaine has been very helpful in minimizing the pain. The third time around the lip, Debbie uses another blending technique call Crosshatch. She makes a series of diagonal lines, equally spaced, from the outside of the lip line in toward the mouth, first one way then the other.
Mendee’s done. After wiping off the excess pigment, Debbie has Mendee sit up so that she may check her work. Lips set differently when a person is lying down, so your technician should have you sit up to check the outline. Debbie checks for any open areas not pigmented (called “holidays”), evenness of lines and equal arcs. After one or two touch ups, this session is done. Swelling may cause the appearance of imperfection and the color will be much darker than desired at first. For these reasons Mendee will most likely have to come back in for touch ups. Debbie includes two touch ups in her price (currently $450 for a lip liner with a blend). Since no two procedures are the same, there’s no telling what Mendee’s final color will be. Skin color and tones will determine the outcome of the color and scars might accept more or less pigment. Follow up is very important for ultimate satisfaction.
Overall, both Mendee and Debbie are please with the work. I myself didn’t notice much swelling and thought Mendee’s color and line definitions were very becoming to her. Debbie offers some more after care advice and is adamant about using the Bacitracin antibiotic ointment for at least one week. Mendee will also need to stay away from salty and acidic foods and drinks such as coffee or soda, as these can lighten the pigment. Other than those few simple rules, Mendee can resume her normal activities immediately.
Would I ever have permanent cosmetics applies? Probably not. Would I refer anyone who would to Debbie Jensen? Most definitely. The difference between a bad experience with an unattractive outcome and a positive experience resulting in a more beautiful you, lies in the hands of your technician. Choose carefully and don’t be afraid to check their references and certifications. Not all states and counties require registration with their local health departments. So please take the time to investigate your technician’s background. After all, you’ll be reminded of their talent every time you look in the mirror.