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“Saving Face”
Permanent cosmetics makes looking good, convenient.
It takes most women 20 minutes to put on their faces in the morning, but it was taking Lenna Minassian that much time just to pencil on her eyebrows. So the 26-year-old Waltham woman, whose brows began to thin when she was 17, decided to find a permanent solution to her problem. She went to Angelbare, a salon in Newton Highlands that specializes in permanent cosmetics. There, owner Shahla Whitmore gave her a new set of arched brown eyebrows using a hair stroke method, with brown pigment and a needle.

“I wanted it to look natural, not like I had these tattoos on my face,” said Minassian, an Army sergeant who has a 7-month-old son, Ian. “Like tattooing, permanent cosmetics became legal in Massachusetts just two years ago. Since then Whitmore, a licensed esthetician who also performs micro dermabrasion, said cosmetics have become 80 percent of her business. A typical client will come for eyebrows and then return for eyeliner and/or lip pigmentation. That’s pretty much the path Christina Perry took. A long time electrolysis client of Whitmore’s, the 24 year-old Roslindale woman decided to have her eyebrows done to cover up some thinning near her nose and a scar near her left eye. “It was very subtle. No one could tell at all,” said Perry, who works for a nonprofit organization in Watertown.

The eyebrow work gave Perry the confidence to add permanent eyeliner and, most importantly, lip color. Friends who had always joked with her that she had no lips are now speechless. “It looks absolutely wonderful,” she said of her natural pink lips. “It doesn’t look like I have lipstick on.” Does it hurt? Not really, said Perry and Minassian, each of whom has a tattoo. Perry spent less than $1,000 combined for the three procedures, each of which can last five to 15 years. Whitmore said the average price for a procedure (and related follow-ups) is $500. How long permanent cosmetics last depends on your lifestyle. Though some can survive without reapplication for up to 15 years, “It’s only two to five years if you’re active,” she said.
Massachusetts is (no surprise) a latecomer to the permanent cosmetics scene. Kate Ciampi, executive director of the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, said she had her won suburban Illinois studio for more than a decade. “I believe in your area they’re more conservative,” said Ciampi, adding that women in Florida, Texas, and California prefer coloring with “a more dramatic flair.”

Ciampi said the business has come far since she had to petition the phone company in the early 1990s just to get a listing. “It’s not just a vanity issue. Women just don’t have time anymore,” she said. “(They like) the wash-and wearability.” Convenience decided it for Minassian, who likes the idea of being able to go swimming or work out without worrying about her makeup running. She said she was initially afraid she might not like the eyebrows she would have to live with for years, but the result allayed her fears.
“I love it,” she said. “I absolutely love it.”

Wellesley, MA 02481