Permanent make-up in Dubai

The facts and risks of new micropigmentation trend

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Dubai is a city with a workaholic population and – it is more than fair to say – a penchant for self improvement. It’s little wonder then that women are reaching beyond their make-up bags for lasting beauty solutions, with many believing the answer lies in clinics offering permanent or semi-permanent make-up.

So how does it work? According to Harley Street-trained specialist Candice Watson, it’s important to note that they are one and the same: most governments require that the procedure be referred to as permanent. Look at the colour fades over a period of two to three years: the pigment remains under the dermal layer of the skin (visible only using a microscope).

Based in Dubai for the last three years, Watson sees clients in the LCAS cosmetic surgery clinic in Dubai Healthcare City, and is also the specialist for cosmetic tattoos at the Burj Al Arab. ‘In layman’s terms, it’s a tattooing process, but the difference is that we don’t use indelible inks, which are blue-based inks, and it doesn’t go deeply into the skin, hence why it’s called micropigmentation. It goes just underneath the dermal layer, and the pigments then fade over time, and don’t leave that horrible bluey mark you see around a lot in Dubai,’ she explains.

Though it has recently become illegal for the procedure to be performed in salons and spas across Dubai, it is still legal in cosmetic surgery clinics. Watson explains that people should be vigilant when choosing a clinic, as there are places where you can wind up paying over the odds for an unfinished job, or even worse, a botched one. If done correctly, Watson explains micropigmentation should ‘enhance what you’ve got, rather than be a complete replacement for make-up.’ The average price you will pay for a treatment is Dhs3,000 (though the smallest and cheapest treatment Watson herself does is a beauty spot, which comes in at Dhs1,000). Following a top up three to four weeks later, you can expect the results to last two to three years. 'With the eyebrows you put hair strokes in so they look natural instead of a block colour,' says Watson. 'With lips the most popular are natural and blush colours, and with eyeliner you enhance the eyes by putting colour through the lash area to make the lashes look thicker.’ Of course, it doesn’t always go to plan, and this is where her warnings come in. ‘I’ve had people come to me with lip liner that’s virtually up their nose, they’ve gone way over the lip line and it looks really bad, I’ve had people come in with blue eyebrows that are sticking up Mr Spock-style, and I’ve had a lady who originally wanted camouflage on her nose, and she ended up with bright green spots all over it, which we’ve had to take out gradually.’ Clearly, the most common risk with an unskilled technician or someone using old pigments or equipment is coming out with a very bad look, and one that you will unfortunately be stuck with unless you can afford to pay the extra to do get it removed.

Though Watson has helped numerous clients put a bad job right, she reveals the most popular treatment among her clients in Dubai is done on the lips. ‘Eyebrows are always popular because as you get older you start to lose them, but here it’s full lip colour. A lot of local and Indian ladies have quite a dark pigment in their lips and they come to me to make them a pinker colour.’ While new trends such as double-coloured eyeliner – where a black is applied initially and then a colour such as green, blue or purple is applied above – are growing in popularity among Watson’s former Harley Street neighbours, in the Middle East there is a growing trend towards micropigmentation being used post-op. ‘Here, the medical side of it is coming into play much more, with things like areola re-pigmenting, which is where people have mastectomies due to breast cancer and they have a reconstruction, so we tattoo a very realistic nipple on,’ she explains. ‘In that situation we are giving people their life back.’ Though she insists every procedure is painless, Watson remains adamant people do their research and check the standards of any clinic before going under the needle. With scar camouflaging and colour pigmentation solutions for conditions such as vitiligo available, once you’ve found the right location and the right technician, micropigmentation has the potential to be a whole lot more than make-up.
For more information or to book a consultation with Candice Watson, email gulf@lcas.com or call the LCAS clinic on 04 375 2393.

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