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Permanent Cosmetics Change Burn Victims Life

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
by Jonathan Bender

When Elaine Daley was growing up in the Brickyard, she was constantly teased about her bushy eyebrows. By the age of 21, the teasing was a distant memory; unfortunately, her eyebrows were also gone. A gas stove fire in her kitchen burned off all of Daley’s facial hair before she was able to douse her head under the sink faucet. If not for her quick thinking, she could have been even more seriously injured.

Until January of this year, Daley had spent an hour and a half every morning for the past 34 years, drawing on her eyebrows with a makeup pencil. She always thought of things in terms of whether or not her makeup would run. She couldn’t play in the snow when her children were growing up and swimming just wasn’t an option. Her bangs grew longer while her confidence grew shorter. “I did anything to not draw attention to myself,” said Daley.

Everything changed when Daley read about Angelbare Permanent Cosmetics in Newton. The salon, run by Shahla Whitmore, has been operating for the past three years, since tattooing and applying permanent makeup became legal in Massachusetts. Whitmore, a fully licensed practitioner, applies permanent cosmetics, a tattooing procedure that replaces the need for regular application of makeup. The two women met for the first time on Jan. 17 to discuss the possibilities for Daley’s face.

Over the next two months, Daley attended five sessions each lasting 45 minutes, during which Whitmore tattooed her eyebrows on. The two sang over the buzzing sound of the needle, Frank Sinatra hits and “How Much is that Doggy in the Window?” At the beginning of each session, Daley gave Whitmore an angel figurine, because as she said, “she’s my angel.” The end result was not ornamental or flashy; it’s a simplified design matched to the shape of Daley’s face and in line with her preferences. “My philosophy is to create a shape and color that looks very natural and is ideal for the client’s particular face shape or features. Therefore I do not create a dramatic look, I stay with soft, subtle colors,” said Whitmore. The tattoo will last for between 10 and 15 years.

Daley still gets up at 5:30 a.m.; but now it is to play with her grandson, instead of having to draw in her eyebrows. Daley said that only two people at Eastern Bank, where she works as a loan servicing clerk, have even noticed something different about her eyebrows. However, there’s plenty different about Daley. She’s wearing brighter colors, has bought, new, lighter eyeglasses, and cut her hair for the first time in seven years. She’s happy to draw attention to her face. Now, Elaine Daley can’t wait to get back in the rain. She’s always loved the rain, since she was a child, but now she can walk in it without worrying about her makeup.

“She is happier, more confident about her looks and from what I hear, much more active,” said Whitmore. The clients at Angelbare, both women and men, come in for a variety of reasons. Some have had accidents like Daley, others are allergic to makeup, and others still are just looking to find a way to cram more hours in the day.

Wellesley, MA 02481