A rushed morning doesn't need to result in you screeching into work with a half-made-up face or your mascara everywhere except your lashes. Neither does a gym workout have to compromise a pretty face. Permanent make-up has been around for years, but the techniques are so refined these days that you can look naturally and effortlessly glam all the time – with zero effort.

It is really important to find a certified cosmetics professional who knows what they are doing – especially when it comes to darker skin. There are distinct differences in the properties of skin tones in women of colour. African skin is 60-70% higher in lipid content than Caucasian skin and has larger sebaceous glands. African skin is denser and the oil glands are larger, making it much more prone to forming lesions when there's impact on the follicles. As injured or diseased skin is healing, the cells at the bottom layer do one of two things: 

  • Hyperpigmentation, where the skin will produce more melanin, creating darker pigmentation areas.
  • Hypopigmentation, where the skin will produce less pigment, creating white areas.
  • The evolution of permanent make-up techniques and the attention to different skin types and their unique needs means that you can look naturally glam without lifting an eye pencil ever again.

In the permanent make-up industry, the Fitzpatrick scale is used as a starting point for matching skin tones to choose a colour for a client.

Dermatologists commonly use the Fitzpatrick scale to evaluate the risks of skin cancer and skin treatments. This scale is a numerical classification for the colour of the skin that divides it into five basic types, from bisque to mahogany. It measures several components: genetic disposition, reaction to sun exposure and whether a person tans or burns.

Not all looks are achievable or advisable when it comes to permanent make-up on ethnic skin and it is essential to analyse the undertones of the skin thoroughly before choosing a colour. For example, African women's permanent lip colour should only be created by using a darker colour due to the high likelihood of hyperpigmentation occurring. It has happened that trying to create a lighter/pink lip colour on black women results in a purple lip – far from the desired result! 

Microblading, a tattooing technique in which a small handheld tool made of several tiny needles is used to add semi-permanent pigment to the skin, is not generally recommended for oily ethnic skins because the colour migrates, causing a blurry-looking brow. In any event, microblading only lasts 6 to 8 months.

Celebrity, Sarah Thabete, with nano-hairstroke brows

Professional permanent make-up artist Manuela Incendiario of Flawless Permanent Cosmetics gave us the lowdown on the procedure and different options available for the best results on ethnic skin:

  • You need 2.5 hours for a full consultation and the make-up application. Your skin is thoroughly analysed first because with every different skin type, the pigment of the make-up goes indifferently.
  • Brow mapping is done on the brows, and eyeliner is actually drawn onto the face to make sure that everything is symmetrical.
  • To get the most natural finish the artist should build from where the hair actually is and fill in the gaps accordingly. Always remember that trends change, so rather be conservative and go with what will work for everyday wear, and then add in extra when your face needs to be more on fleek. 
  • Options for eyebrows that are natural-looking are the nano-hairstroke brow, which mimics little hairs on the brow, the ombré technique, which is more soft and powdery, and the hybrid, where little hairs are created in the front and the rest of the brow is powdered and ombréd.
  • Contra-indications to permanent make-up are diabetes, if you are on blood thinners, or have skin problems that require the acne medicine Isotretinoin (Roaccutane). All of these factors affect healing. 

For eyebrows, the nano-needle process takes 2.5-3 hours (including numbing, design, colour decision and meticulous shading to get the ombré look, or placing hairstrokes to mimic hairs). Cost: R2 800

For eyeliner, the cost is R2 200 for the first session, and R1 600 for a retouch three months later.

Contact Manuela at Flawless Permanent Cosmetics on 082 453 2695 or check out her Instagram: @flawlesspmu.