Pakistani Women Are Getting Their Faces Tattooed With Permanent Make-up. Here's Why

Five years ago, when Zehra Kachelo was visiting her daughter in Hanoi, Vietnam, she noticed that a lot of women looked effortlessly dolled up: their eyebrows were the perfect shape and colour; their lips were just the right tint.

The secret to their put-together looks turned out to be permanent make-up: the tattooing of pigments into the skin to enhance the lips, eyebrows, eyelids or cheeks. “I said ‘Wow your eyebrows look so nice’ and they said ‘We wake up like this’. I thought this is so great! I want to wake up like this,” she says.

Eventually, Kachelo decided to have her eyebrows, lips and eyelids tattooed (the inked eyelids give the appearance of having put on eyeliner). For Kachelo, as for many busy Pakistani women, permanent make-up (which is also known by the names micropigmentation and cosmetic tattooing) is all about convenience.

As she points out: “Basically my laziness got the better of me. I got hair bonding done so my hair could be nice and straight all the time. So why not the same with make-up? I got my face done and I was ready all the time. I loved it!”

Kachelo is not alone; many Pakistani women are turning to the technique because it saves them time. According to Samina Bilgrami, a certified permanent make-up professional based in Islamabad and Karachi and the founder of Brow Factor, women are increasingly opting for the technique because it’s so convenient.

“It’s becoming more and more popular and people of all ages are using this procedure. Most of them have a busy lifestyle and you don’t have to make an effort,” she says. “It’s convenient for a lot of working girls — you wake up and you’re ready. It makes you look very nice and fresh. You don’t look washed out.”

Roohi Sayeed, a certified permanent make-up professional and the owner of Amethyst Spa, agrees, pointing out that she has seen cosmetic tattooing become more popular in the last two years. “We see a lot of clientele in their 40s and 50s. We also see a lot of women from the northern areas of Pakistan who come to Karachi to get permanent make-up done,” adds Sayeed.

Permanent make-up may conjure up images of artificial-looking brows veering on the cartoonish — a legacy of the cosmetic tattoo fad that emerged in the ’90s and 2000s. The most recent iteration of the technique which is becoming popular, however, is far more sophisticated. Carbon-based pigments are no longer used; instead cosmetic professionals now use temporary pigments that are made especially for the face.

These pigments also come in a broader range of shades so permanent make-up artists can easily make the tint of colour the client is looking for. “You have a lot more shades now. When I got my training done 20 years ago, there weren’t many companies that made such pigments but now there are far more options,” says Sayeed.



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