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In Search of Permanent Results
Wednesday, June 18, 2003 Volume 4, No.20
by Seth Daniel

To many, permanent cosmetics are yet another sign of the apocalypse, and additional reason to shake their heads and wonder what the world is coming to. After all, on the surface, the idea of a person tattooing makeup onto their skin just to save time in the morning seems a little frivolous and self-involved. It’s ideas like this that make several people think the end must be near.
However, for many others, permanent cosmetics are a new beginning, rather than an end, to the world as they know it. Shahla Whitmore operates one of the few fully certified salons in the area, called Angelbare Permanent Cosmetics, located in Newton. She said several people from Revere and all over eastern Massachusetts have come to her for solutions. She said she has seen cancer patients, both men and women, who have lost their eyebrows and color due to chemotherapy; patients who have alopecia, a condition that blocks the growth of hair; patients who had deep scarring due to automobile crashes or other accidents; and patients who, with ago, have lost color and definition in their facial features.

For all of the above, this procedure – which was legalized in Massachusetts only two years ago when tattooing also became legal – has rescued them from a lifetime of insecurity and embarrassment. Among the services she offers are blush, fuller lips, eyeliner, eyebrows, tattoo removal, stretch marks, and birthmark camouflage, areola restoration for breast cancer patients, scar camouflage, and color correction. “It’s the face,” Whitmore said on Friday at her salon. “It’s very important. It’s not like a part of the body you can put clothes on and cover up. It’s the face, and everybody sees it.”

Whitmore has a stack of letters from former clients thanking her for helping them regain some self-esteem. One letter written by a woman from Cape Cod praised the procedure. “I couldn’t leave the house for two years and I cried daily,” the woman wrote. Said Whitmore. “A little color makes them feel good and happy. Their self-esteem goes up and that’s very important.” Another happy customer is Samnang Pho, 20, of Revere’s North Shore Road. While applying traditional make-up, Pho would pluck her eyebrows and she eventually shaved them instead of using an eyebrow pencil. But when she tried to let them grow back, they didn’t. That’s when Pho turned to Whitmore’s salon. She said the procedure took about 45 minutes and she walked away with full-looking eyebrows that suited her face. Pho told the Journal, “She drew in a full eyebrow, and now it’s perfect. It was painless. I have a tattoo, and it was a lot less painful than that.” She said Whitmore was very easy to work with and guided her through the process, but didn’t make decisions for her.

Today, she’s happy she went to Whitmore and added, “It’s a legitimate timesaving measure for busy women who try to balance a job and raise children at the same time. “A lot of busy women, working professionals like flight attendants and nurses, seek out this procedure,” Whitmore said. The permanent cosmetics actually look better and aren’t easily detected She said the procedure starts at $250 and lasts anywhere from five to 15 years – depending on lifestyle. Additional color can always be added and/or refreshed.

The most important thing, is to make sure that the person performing the procedure is properly certified and has a background of skin care and makeup artistry. Whitmore said she had to repair faulty work done at many other salons. “Its easy to make a mistake, but it’s not easy to correct a mistake,” she said. “When someone doesn’t finish the school, they’re not completely informed. They practice on people.”

Wellesley, MA 02481