This Is What Getting A Permanent Lip Tint Is Like

Illustrated by Us.
I would never get a tattoo on my body (I have all the edge of a Skittle), but call me Mike Tyson, because I’ve got more than one on my face. But, the tattoo parlor I go to, Browhaus, is actually a salon in Soho that caters to a more fashion-forward set than the Ed Hardy-sporting crew.
I first tattooed my eyebrows a month ago with a semipermanent vegetable dye with the salon's Brow Resurrection treatment, which restores your brows to their former glory. But, I didn’t stop there. Three weeks ago, I returned for Browhaus' two-hour Lip Define service, and, well, it's a process you'll want to see. Click through to read more about what it was really like to get a (kind of) lipstick tattoo.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amber Katz.
Lip Define is a semipermanent tattoo procedure that enhances or corrects your lips, but because the salon uses natural vegetable dye, it typically lasts no longer than two years. According to Browhaus, this type of dye is used because it fades into a color that looks more natural instead of like something that came from, say, a Crayola 64 pack. Now, you may have heard of permanent makeup before, but this is different: Tattoo ink, which was traditionally used in the past for semi- and permanent makeup, does not fade evenly and turns into colors that look synthetic. Lip Define boasts a more natural appearance, rather than a "I got my lipstick tattooed on" look.

This service is geared toward women looking to correct uneven lip shape, enhance the size of their pout, or simply fill in color — that is, if you’ve got the cash. The Lip Define package at Browhaus costs $1,400 for two sessions, though each session comes with a complimentary tune-up within three months of the first treatment.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amber Katz.
But, I was ready to take that plunge. For my treatment, I consulted with my Lip Define technician and chose to simply tint my lips. Now, when it comes to pain, this procedure is pretty mild, especially considering you’re getting a tattoo on your face. First, specialist Michelle Wu applied numbing cream for 20 minutes before starting with the needle. Most of the time, the treatment felt like a slight tickle — as if a tiny Clarisonic face brush was running over my lips — but it was bearable.

Wu checked in with me regularly, and when I said I needed more cream to dull the pain, she ensured I was, in the most Pink Floyd sense of the expression, comfortably numb. After she made several small incisions, Wu applied the vegetable dye. When the process was finally over, I was made to swish with water to remove rogue dye from my teeth.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amber Katz.
After care is fairly simple: You apply Browhaus’ own anti-scarring balm, Fix ($31), and Build ($29), a post-treatment formula with built-in growth factors, which help with cellular regeneration and speed up the healing process. (Note: These aren’t included in the price of the service, but the salon doesn’t recommend you use anything else. Yep, that's another 50 bucks to add to your treatment cost.) You’ll need to reapply those several times a day.

As for what you should not do, Browhaus advises to avoid hot, spicy food and seafood in the first two weeks post-treatment. Wu says there may be toxins in shellfish and shrimp that could potentially lead to infection (um, yikes). Spicy food, meanwhile, can irritate the sensitive skin. Smoking and drinking are no-nos for these two weeks as well. For the first month, you should also not apply any lipstick or lip balm.

While I was prepared for the worst-case scenario (looking as if I were plagued by cold sores as my lips scabbed over), the recovery was minimal — nothing more than the dry lips you’d experience during a polar vortex. The first two days, I simply looked as if I was wearing red lipstick (a first-world problem of the highest order), which Browhaus says is to be expected. This was followed by a bit of flakiness, which I affectionately referred to as “liprosy,” but it was short-lived.

I religiously used the Browhaus products, which helped my pout heal more swiftly. But, I must confess: This rebel didn’t abstain entirely from spicy food or alcohol, though I was fortunate to not suffer any adverse side effects. After two weeks, I also went back to using lip balm and occasional lip color.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amber Katz.
While my lips were red the first two days and had a tinge more color the rest of that week, they seemed to revert to my pre-Lip Define shade the following week — making me throw shade. But, lo, after another seven days, the color deepened to a “my lips but better” shade — a very Anne Hathaway-sans-makeup hue.

People have commented that I look younger, and my mother even remarked that since I’d started spending time with my 22-year-old intern, we’ve begun to look more alike. (Like a 22-year-old, I had kept my tattoo news mum to my mom.) This all makes sense: As babies, we have much more pigmented lips that fade as we age, and incorporating that back in via vegetable dye yields an overall more youthful effect.

Post Lip Define, I also feel more “done” and, as a result, wear less makeup, which I also attribute to my younger appearance. Another serendipitous side effect? I’m newly entranced with the sheerer shades I avoided in the past because they didn’t give me the oomph I craved.

Despite the hefty price tag, the Lip Define service was, in my case, worth it. Between the trifecta of my brow resurrection, my newly defined lips, and some recent lash extensions, I can go without wearing much makeup these days. And, that’s saved me precious time in my morning prep routine. For those with similar goals and deep pockets, Browhaus’ Lip Define service brings Beyoncé “I woke up like this” beauty to a whole new level.
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