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What’s Permanent Make-Up? Q&A with Perma Luxe

Perma Luxe is a brand new beauty studio in Gateshead specialising in permanent make-up

Caroline Dask

Journalist at Luxe

While permanent make-up is not necessarily a new kid on the block, it’s a field that keeps on evolving slightly faster than I can keep up with.

The umbrella of permanent make-up is quite large and something that started in the mid-90s has now expanded into exciting advancements such as long-lasting eyeliner, lipliner, lip blush and eyebrows. All in the hopes of shortening the time it takes us to get ready in the morning.

Caroline Shiels who has been a beauty therapist for just over two decades has seen a variety of beauty trends come and go, however, the interest in permanent make-up is still very much there.

Having opened Perma Luxe beauty studio in October 2023, she is sharing her business journey so far, the secrets behind permanent make-up and her speciality – ombré brows…

You started Perma Luxe just last year. What inspired and led you to become a business owner?

I’ve always been in the beauty industry since leaving school. There was a time when I had a little break from it when I had my daughter in 2020, but coming back to work, I knew I wanted to do something more advanced, not just the normal beauty treatments.

After some research, I came across permanent make-up and cosmetic tattooing. I did my training at the best academy in the country where I learned how to do Ombré and powder-brow permanent make-up techniques, and have recently qualified in lip blush, which is a pigment that gives lips a natural glow and colour.

I think when you’re working for someone, it’s easy to get stuck in a routine. So when returning for work, I decided it was now or never to start something of my own. That’s how Perma Luxe was born!

As a new business owner, what are some of the challenges that you’ve faced so far and how have you overcome them?

I think the biggest challenge is building the business up from the ground. Finding a location was initially challenging, but now I am based at the Hilton I feel really settled, it’s helped me in developing clientele as well.

It’s a big thing to ask people to trust you to tattoo their face with permanent make-up and because it’s not a treatment where people return every two weeks as in some other beauty treatments, I have had to adjust my business development techniques to continually promote the company to source new clients.

However, so far, I’ve had a lot of lovely clients and received great feedback. I’m now in a phase of becoming a word-of-mouth practice, where my clients recommend my services to their friends and family, which helps my business mature, along with my growing social media presence.

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Being a mum and having my own business has had its challenges with everything being new to me, but I have enjoyed learning about the administrative, financial and marketing sides of the business. My family have been really supportive throughout the process.  

I am able to work around my children, so I drop them off at school, work during the day and can pick them back up. With my business development being mostly social-media based, I do receive messages outside of regular office hours but I try to dedicate my time sensibly whilst ensuring my clients get the high-level service that Perma Luxe offers.

If I’m having family time, I try to stay away from work where possible and when I’m at work, I dedicate my time fully to it.

In my free time, I love to stay fit, attending the gym and fitness classes like Pilates. I am building up my running after doing my first Great North Run last year and am training for this year also. When away from kids, we try to make time for foodie outings, cocktails with friends, weekends away and some quality adult time!

So far, my work-life balance is quite good, but ask me again in a year or so!

You specialise in Ombré eyebrows. Could you tell me a little bit about the process and technique behind it?

When a client comes in, we have a conversation and discuss what their expectations are from the treatment. I don’t start the procedure without a full consultation and without making sure that they’re happy with the pre-draw shape which is done in eyebrow pencil, and we agree on the colour of their brows.

During this consultation, I aim to find out what the client’s previous history is, whether they get a wax, tint their eyebrows, etc.

When it’s time to start, the technique I do includes pigments that are very fine, it’s more like a pixelated look rather than hair strokes, using a digital pen and the machine brow process, which is suitable for all skin types and ages as they are the least invasive form of permanent make-up. Rather than drawing the hair in and them being very saturated, Ombré eyebrows are softer. It goes darker at the tail and lighter at the front, creating a very natural look.

The whole procedure takes around two hours and it’s not painful, but it could be uncomfortable for some clients, it really depends on the person.

What's Permanent Make-up?

What’s the healing process like and how long do the eyebrows last?

The initial healing process lasts around 10 days. Immediately after the treatment, the eyebrows are quite dark but that’s normal because they fade to their true colour and intensity within six weeks. After those six weeks, I offer a top-up service to add more colour and perfect the shape to suit the clients’ wishes.

On the first and second days, the eyebrows are going to be quite dark as they’re starting to scab. It’s very important to not pick at them when they’re healing because you risk pulling the pigment out.

The best thing to do is to leave them be, keep them dry and don’t put anything on them apart from the ointment I provide from day 5 onwards. As the scab heals, the eyebrows can get a milky colour caused by the skin processing the pigment, but the colour will resurface again.

We recommend a yearly top-up to keep the colour fresh, but they can last up to three years before gradually fading. This, however, also depends on the person and their lifestyle.

We strongly recommend an SFP 50 to protect the brows from sun exposure and prolong their colour.

Now that you’ve started Perma Luxe, what’s next for you and your business?

I’m excited to be introducing lip blush which is proving to be very popular with my clients.

In the future, I’d love to introduce new advancements in Perma Luxe bespoke permanent make-up, focussing more on medicinal work such as tattooing areolas for breast cancer patients, camouflaging stretch marks and scars, and scalp micro pigmentation, for those suffering from thinning hair.

I really love giving clients a confidence boost with my services and I only hope to continue doing that in the future.

Perma Luxe permanent make-up is located at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead, NE8 2AR. Keep your eyes peeled for our review!