Lip blushing is a permanent makeup procedure. During the lip blush procedure, the provider will tattoo pigment into the lips to enhance their color and appearance.

Lip blushing is a cosmetic treatment involving the permanent tattooing of pigment into the lips to provide an even coloring.

In this article, we look at what lip blushing involves, the potential risks and side effects of lip blushing, and what to look for in a provider.

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Lip blushing is a form of tattoo and permanent makeup. A provider will apply colored ink to the lips to give them a deeper, natural-looking shade.

People may choose to undergo lip blushing for aesthetic reasons, to enhance the color or shape of the lips, or to provide a more even coloring without the need for temporary lip makeup.

A tattoo artist or aesthetician may provide lip blushing services.

People may first consult with a provider to discuss what the procedure and aftercare will involve and what results the person is looking for.

The entire process may take 2–3 hours, as it may involve before and after photos, discussion of final coloring, numbing time, the procedure, and aftercare instructions.

During the procedure, a provider may apply a topical anesthetic to numb the lips. This may take up to 30 minutes to take effect.

A provider will then tattoo the pigment into the lips with a sterile needle. Providers may use a tattoo coil machine, pen, rotary device, or handheld device.

After the procedure, a provider will explain the aftercare instructions and provide any necessary healing products.

People may experience some discomfort during a lip blushing procedure. The level of discomfort may vary depending on how each individual feels pain.

To minimize pain, a provider may apply a topical numbing cream or anesthetic to the area beforehand.

Cosmetic blogs and articles also state that the pain from lip blushing is minimal and similar to a scratching or pinching sensation.

If people are experiencing any extreme pain from the procedure, they will need to communicate this with the provider.

According to the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (SPCP), permanent makeup is not easy to remove.

The SPCP considers cosmetic tattooing, such as lip coloring, to be permanent, as it involves tattooing pigment into the skin’s upper dermal layer.

Color fading can occur over time, and if people wish to keep the coloring, they may need additional lip blushing to refresh the color.

Exposure to the sun or other weather conditions may increase fading, and some topical products for the lips may also affect how long the color lasts.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are many approved color additives for cosmetic use, but none have approval for intradermal injection.

Due to the lack of regulations and scientific research around lip blushing, there is a risk of adverse effects.

The FDA warns of the following risks around permanent makeup and tattooing:

  • Infection: Unsterile equipment and needles or contaminated ink may result in infection.
  • Allergic reaction: There have been reports of allergic reactions to some shades of ink in permanent makeup. This may be problematic, as the ink can be difficult to remove.
  • Granulomas: Granulomas are small areas of inflammation that occur when the body perceives a substance, such as tattoo ink, as foreign.
  • Keloids: Keloids are raised scars that can form in response to any injury to the skin. However, keloids are more likely to occur from tattoo removal than from a procedure such as lip blushing.
  • MRI complications: Some pigments in permanent makeup may react with the magnets in MRI scans. People with permanent makeup may experience swelling or burning of the area if they have an MRI scan. This is usually a rare and temporary occurrence, but people with lip blushing should inform their doctor or radiologist before having an MRI.

It may also be difficult to remove or reverse a lip blushing treatment.

If people have cold sores on the lips, they may need to take an antiviral medication before having the procedure.

Immediately after a lip blushing procedure, the lips will appear darker in color. As the lips heal, the color will lighten and soften to the shade a person chose.

It may take up to 6 weeks for the lips to change into the final coloring.

According to the SPCP, people may experience some mild swelling after a lip blushing procedure.

Some people may also experience minor bleeding or bruising. This may occur if the skin of the lips is thinner and closer to the vascular system.

If people have bruising, it will usually lessen within a few days. The lips may also feel tender for a few days following the procedure.

People will see a much darker coloring of the lips for around 6–10 days before it fades to the intended color.

People will need to follow specific aftercare advice from their provider. This may include using a protective lip balm, as people may experience some dryness.

The healing process will usually take around 4–6 weeks after the procedure, and people may have a follow-up appointment so their provider can take a final photo of the healed procedure.

Although the FDA investigates any reports of safety issues in cosmetic treatments, there are currently no regulations on tattooing and permanent makeup procedures.

This means that regulation is down to the state or local authorities. Safety, hygiene, and other practices may vary widely among providers.

People will often need to judge for themselves the quality and safety of a lip blushing provider. To find a qualified and experienced provider, people can look for the following:

  • evidence of training, qualifications, experience, and certification
  • a background in and familiarity with performing lip blushing procedures
  • a portfolio of before and after photos, particularly showcasing people with a similar skin or lip tone
  • a knowledge of skin undertones and color theory and an understanding of the lip color and appearance their client wants
  • a willingness to thoroughly explain the procedure, possible side effects, and aftercare with a client, and comfort in answering questions in detail
  • sterile equipment with new and sterile needles, which a provider opens in the presence of a client, as well as disposable one-time-use inks or pigments
  • the use of sterile, disposable gloves and a clean and neat work station, with a disposable chair or bed covering

According to anecdotal sources and service providers, lip blushing may cost between $500 and $1,500 or more.

A 2015 report from the SPCP found the average cost for full lip coloring was $579, but costs may have changed since then.

Prices may vary due to location, a provider’s overhead expenses, and any ongoing training costs.

Lip blushing is a cosmetic procedure that applies permanent coloring to the lips. A provider will tattoo pigment into the lips to provide an even coloring.

Lip coloring will usually be darker immediately following a procedure, before the lips heal and the color fades to the intended shade.

The FDA does not regulate cosmetic treatments such as lip blushing, so people will need to check that their provider uses sterile equipment and has appropriate training and experience.