Daily Life


Tattoos are given a bit of pluck

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"Cosmetic tattooing" may seem an oxymoron but the techniques and the pigments have improved and it's being sought by more women. And when it is on the brow - and never the lip - it's arguably the only sort of tattoo that can be considered a true enhancement to female beauty. It can give a woman her brows back without a hint of harsh blue or faded green nor trace of anchor, dolphin or dodgy Sanskrit.

Brows diminish for lots of reasons - chemotherapy and alopecia obviously, but also overplucking and natural ageing. With them goes the frame of the face and its natural definition. Women who came of age in the Seventies are known never to leave the house "without putting their brows on". Feather-touch brow tattooing, or eyebrow embroidery to give it a prettier name still, means that brows are always on.

"It's also extremely in demand amongst ladies with plenty of brow who want a perfectly sculpted look and want to wake up with colour and symmetrical definition," says Amy-Jean Linnehan who has brow salons in Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast. ''It's also popular among clients with existing tattoo work or the faded 'block' technique of the past. The new strokes applied will mask the tired and faded pigment beneath."

As with Botox, the application is an art. It comes down to the practitioner. Done well, feather-touch tattooing gives a natural finish that mimics hair. Amy-Jean says the first step is to design and outline a brow shape. A handheld pen-like device with a cluster of angles needles is then used to ''etch'' or micro-pigment hair strokes on to the skin. A plant-based pigment penetrates into the strokes to give an instant hair-like finish. How many strokes, what direction, what heights, where should the hairs cross over? This is where the art lies.

Is it painful? People, are tattoos painful? Although a topical anaesthetic cream was applied, one lady of sixty-ish said the pain was ''excruciating'', though she ''did not dare grimace''. Did she like the result? Very much. ''I've got my brows back,'' she said.

Have you tried cosmetic tattooing? Lips, brows or, er, elsewhere? Were you happy with the result? Is this one type of tattoo you'd consider having?