Lip Blush Tattoos: Everything You Need to Know
Cosmetic tattooing has come a long way over the past few years. Rather than the harsh lines and bold colors associated with early procedures, modern cosmetic tattooers have learned how to make permanent and semi-permanent makeup look beautiful and natural. Cosmetic tattoo artists also help to correct skin discoloration and pigmentation issues.
One of the latest procedures artists and practitioners are using to enhance and correct facial features is called lip blushing, also known as a lip blush tattoo. It’s a natural-looking cosmetic tattoo procedure that is offered in both tattoo studios and high-end spas.
We asked New York-based cosmetic tattoo artist Savannah Kondratyev to give us the run-down on what lip blushing actually is and what you need to know if you’re interested in getting a lip blush tattoo.
What is Lip Blushing?
Lip blushing is a semi-permanent cosmetic tattoo procedure that adds a light tint of color to a person’s lips. Most lip blush tattoos are designed to last two to three years.
“Lip blush can be used to fix minor symmetry issues, camouflage scars, and add 30-40 percent more volume to the lips,” says Kondratyev. “It is also useful for adding a tint of natural lip color and improving overall shape.”
While Kondratyev, who works out of First Class Tattoos, states that a lot of her clients choose lip blushing for aesthetic reasons, she also explains that the procedure can help correct things that may make clients feel self conscious, such as hyperpigmentation or unevenness.
“You can use lip blush to enhance lips that are too cool or dark in tonality, and you can also use lip blush to add pigment to areas of the lips lacking in pigment,” she says. “Often the areas lacking pigment are the edges around the mouth, and once this tint is added, the lips look more full in volume and even in shape.”
The pigments used in lip blush tattoos are more dilute than regular tattoo inks, so the result is a light flush of color, rather than a heavily pigmented tattoo.
Lip Blush Tattoo Process
Lip blush tattoos take approximately 2.5 hours to complete from start to finish. Numbing cream is applied at the beginning of the appointment and stays on for approximately 20 minutes before tattooing begins.
“After the numbing, we then draw the shape using a bright colored red or pink lip liner,” says Kondratyev. “Once the shape is drawn we begin the tattooing process.”
The tattoo artist will pass over the lips two or three times using a light shading technique. Kondratyev says that between each pass, she uses the numbing cream again to provide comfort and relief to clients.
Once the procedure is done, the lips are cleaned thoroughly and covered with a moisturizing or healing ointment. Kondratyev uses Acquaphor on her clients’ lips when finished.
Do Lip Blush Tattoos Hurt?
As with most tattoo procedures, there is some pain involved during a lip blush tattoo, especially because the lips are a sensitive area on the body.
That’s why most technicians use numbing cream to make the pain more tolerable.
“Numbing before and during the process just allows for a more comfortable experience,” says Kondratyev. “In terms of pain, most would rate lip blush between 2-4 on a scale of 1-10. The pain is very mild. I have people fall asleep during the procedure.”
Kondratyev also explains that tattoo machines designed to do cosmetic tattooing procedures like lip blush only work on the surface of the skin, making the procedure less painful than traditional tattooing methods.
Lip Blush Healing
Healing a lip blush tattoo takes approximately four to seven days. Following the procedure, clients are typically given an aftercare kit and healing instructions from their artist.
“On the first day the body produces lymphatic fluid as an inflammatory response to being tattooed,” says Kondratyev. “About five to six hours after the lip blush procedure, you will want to wipe the lips with a sterile water wipe provided and then immediately apply provided moisturizer.”
This step of wiping the lips with a sterile wipe and applying moisturizer is repeated the following morning.
Clients should expect to see some swelling of the lips following a lip blush tattoo. “When it comes to swelling, every client is different,” says Kondratyev. “Some swell up like balloons, others barely swell at all. The swelling does go down after a couple hours and returns to normal size by the next day.”
Lip Blush Healing Stages: Day by Day
Day 1: Lips will be swollen and sensitive. Color will appear bright. Lips will produce lymphatic fluid that needs to be wiped down with a sterile wipe.
Day 2: Swelling will subside and color will appear darker.
Days 3-4: Lips will become dry and start to flake (like a traditional tattoo). Keeping them moisturized is important.
Days 5-7: The skin flakes away and your new lip color is revealed and begins to settle in. “Often healed lips appear about 40-50 percent lighter and more natural than what you see on days one and two,” says Kondratyev.
Lip Blush Healing Precautions
While the healing process for lip blush tattoos is fairly straightforward, Kondratyev says that it’s extremely important to keep the area moisturized using the ointment or moisturizer provided by your aesthetician or tattoo artist.
“For the entire duration of the healing process, keep lips moisturized. Never allow them to dry or crack open,” she says. “It is recommended that no other moisturizer is used other than Aquaphor, A&D ointment, or coconut oil until lips are healed entirely.”
Makeup, such as lipstick and lipgloss, should also be avoided until the lips are fully healed.
Kondratyev also says that clients should be careful when eating following a lip blush tattoo. She says to avoid very big bites of food that could stretch the mouth and lead to cracking. Clients should also avoid extreme temperatures and spice during the healing process.
“Don’t eat anything too hot or too cold, and nothing spicy, as the lips will be more sensitive until fully healed,” she says.
Lip Blush Tattoo Costs
The cost of a lip blush tattoo will vary depending on your location and the studio or artist you choose to do your procedure. Prices can range between $400 and $1,500.
Many tattoo artists that specialize in lip blush tattoos will require a deposit in order to book an appointment.
Kondratyev says that her pricing is $400 for the first session, $200 for a second session, and $300 for a refresh appointment that can happen anywhere between 6 and 18 months after the initial procedure.
If it is your first time getting a lip blush tattoo, you may need two sessions to achieve the look you want. Kondratyev recommends that all new lip blush clients come in for two sessions.
“The first session establishes the blush on the lips, and the second session touches up anything that may have healed unevenly,” she says. “Minor tweaks can be tended to on the second session as well as just adding final saturation.”
Even though lip blush tattoos can last a few years, the color can start to fade. Sun exposure, smoking, and using exfoliating products on your lips can cause fading to happen faster. To keep the color and lines fresh, Kondratyev suggests yearly refresh appointments to add to the overall look and longevity.
How to Prepare for a Lip Blushing Session
If you have a lip blush tattoo booked, there are a few things that you can do to prepare for your appointment to help everything go smoothly.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine for 24 hours prior to your appointment. “It can cause bruising because the lips are such a delicate area,” says Kondratyev.
If you are someone who regularly gets cold sores, Kondratyev recommends taking cold sore medication (like Valtrex) three days before and three days after your lip blush appointment. “The process can trigger an outbreak, and cold sores mess with the healing process,” she says.
If you use products like Vitamin C serums or retinoids in your beauty and skincare routine, Kondratyev recommends taking a break from these two weeks prior to your appointment. The same goes for facial waxing, laser, botox, or chemical peels.
Women who have lip fillers can get a lip blush tattoo. However, fillers should be done at least six weeks prior to the lip blush appointment for best results.
Otherwise, to prepare for a lip blush tattoo, Kondratyev recommends exfoliating your lips the day before and using a balm or moisturizer to help keep the surface of your lips smooth and fresh on the day of your appointment.
Photos courtesy of Savannah Kondratyev.