What to Know About Lip Blushing, According to a Cosmetic Tattoo Artist

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Everything to Know About Lip BlushingBennett Raglin - Getty Images

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What if you could wake up and magically have the perfect shade of lip stain, every day? That's the promise of lip blushing, a type of semi-permanent makeup where lip color is quite literally tattooed onto the lips. If it sounds daunting, that's understandable—however, the technique is becoming increasingly popular. But fear not: We tapped Connor Noel, a Woodstock, Georgia-based cosmetic tattoo artist, for a full rundown on just what lip blushing is, what the experience is like (including how much it hurts), the cost, and more, so you can make an appointment with all the intel.

What Is Lip Blushing?

“Lip blushing is a cosmetic tattoo that is completed on the lips to give the look of anywhere from a tinted Chapstick to more of a lip stain,” explains Noel. “It is completed much like any other tattoo you would think of, using a machine to deposit pigment underneath skin.” Though lip blushing is often used to add permanent color, Noel says that the technique “can also be used to restore color to the outer edges of your lips, where we naturally tend to lose pigmentation over time with age, and to give them a more youthful and vibrant appearance.”

Like a regular tattoo (or lip color, for that matter), lip blushing is customized for your skin tone. “Colors are selected and mixed for each individual, so there are no set colors that have to be used, as they are matched to your unique goals and skin tone,” says Noel.

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What Is the Process Like?

It sounds a little scary—lips are sensitive, after all—but the artist says it isn't too bad, “The experience can be nerve-wrecking, especially for those without any previous experience getting tattoos,” admits Noel. “Typically the initial appointment takes around four and a half hours to complete, which allows time for shaping, color selection, completing the tattoo, and for breaks along the way,” she explains. However, she notes that “It is generally rated to be about a zero to two on a pain scale of zero to 10 by clients.” Part of that reason, she explains, is that “A numbing cream is used to prevent excess discomfort, and is reapplied throughout the procedure. You are more than welcome to opt out of numbing, but I have found that most clients are more than happy to have it.”

You can also meet with your artist ahead of time to ask any questions. “I am always willing to do a free in-person consultations for anyone hesitant moving forward,” says Noel.

What Should You Expect After Getting Lip Blushing?

The first thing to know is that all cosmetic tattoos require at least two appointments. “Unlike other body art tattoos, cosmetic tattoos are only applied into the top layer of the skin, whereas traditional body art tattoos are placed deeper under the skin,” explains Noel. “This, along with the type of ink used, allows for it to be semi-permanent instead of permanent. However, this is also why a second touch up session is always required.”

After your appointment(s), there are a few things you’ll want to do take care of your lips. “I give all of my clients an aftercare kit that includes cleanser and ointment at their first appointment, along with detailed instructions,” says Noel. “It can vary person to person on how quickly swelling goes down and healing takes. There are so many different things that can affect healing of a tattoo, just like how some people heal a scrap or scab faster than others.” However, she says that generally, “Allow at least 48-72 hours for swelling to diminish, and around four to six weeks for healing to take place.”

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How Long Does Lip Blushing Last?

“Lip blush should last for about two years,” says Noel. “However, it is recommended you get a touch up around once a year or so to maintain the work.” Due to the semi-permanent ink, she says, “It will fade over time, so that just keeps it looking fresh, and from developing any patchy areas of the pigment.”

Who Can Get Lip Blushing?

Because the ink color is customized for every unique pout, lip blushing can be done on all skin tones. “It can also be used for darker skin tones to neutralize darker areas on the lips and give them a more even and pinky color,” explains Noel. “A different shade is used to cancel out some of that darker tone in the lip, where it is present, and then the target color is applied on top of that to make sure it is even across the entire lip.”

However, there are some people who should proceed with caution before making an appointment. “A key thing with lip blush is that anyone who has ever had a cold sore should take L-Lysine at least five days prior to the appointment and five days after to prevent an outbreak,” says Noel, who says she recommends this to all clients just in case. Plus, she adds, “Having an outbreak can affect healing and retention, so it is best to be safe!”

Also, those who have had lip filler in the past may have a longer swelling period. “This is something I have learned as an artist, and like to warn people about,” says Noel. Although you can still have lip blushing done if you’ve had filler, she says that “it can cause you to need an additional touch-up session. If the area becomes too swollen during the appointment, it becomes really difficult to deposit the pigment as well, and can cause increased discomfort for the client. So, I prefer to air on the side of being safe and add a third session to smooth out any issues rather than to try to continue to work with an area that is so irritated already.”

How Much Does Lip Blushing Cost?

It varies by city and tattoo artist. “Typically, the initial session would cost around $600-800, but I have seen it as high as $1000, not including any touch-ups,” says Noel. Touch-ups then add $200-$300 per session, and keep in mind that you may need more than one to achieve your final look.

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