All Your Questions About Lip Blushing, Answered

Everything you need to know about the TikTok beauty trend that’s backed by legitimate artists and cosmetic surgeons.

Kate Moss photographed by Craig McDean for W magazine.

Lip Blushing mania is on fire—and we’re deeply intrigued. The semi-permanent tattoo procedure in which fine needles with the pigment of your choice are deposited onto your lips has several outstanding results and benefits that are worth noting. On a practical level, this beauty treatment is ideal for anyone who needs to even out or tweak their lip symmetry. It also enhances your lip color (yes, our natural lip color does fade over time) and can correct any lip scarring, trauma, or surgeries like cleft palate reconstruction. The process additionally gives the natural appearance of fuller lips, which means you can forgo filler.

Although the procedure itself is pretty straightforward, there still are a host of important precautions and information to consider. We consulted three experienced and renowned lip blushing artists from various practices, all of whom imparted their unique wisdom and guidelines on this popular procedure.

Beauty is pain—but so is the anxiety that comes with thinking about needles. Just how painful is this procedure?

“While lips are one of the more sensitive areas of the body, the lip blushing procedure is very comfortable, thanks to the use of topical anesthetics and the evolved techniques while working very superficially on the skin,” Pia Lange, the Newport-based celebrity permanent makeup artist, says. The lip blushing veteran and proprietor of Browhouse has been practicing for over 15 years and takes every precaution to ensure her clients are not just informed about the process, but more importantly, calm during the procedure. “My clients are very comfortable and report minimal discomfort. Most of our clients even fall asleep. Just be aware that the lips will be swollen immediately following procedure for a couple hours.”

Wait…certain needle treatments can often trigger melasma or scarring. Does lip blushing?

“While a process like electrolysis can trigger melasma, this is not the case with lip blushing,” says Mojgan Azimi, one of the leading lip blushing artists in Los Angeles. Azimi, who enjoys a powerhouse roster of high-profile clients adds that while “the permanent makeup machine doesn’t create any heat, it is possible that it might scratch the skin with the needle and then possibly, with sun exposure, attract melanin on the procedure area. To avoid this side effect, using ice packs and avoiding sun can be helpful.” Going one step further with Azimi’s point, Lange mentions that there actually are benefits associated with lip blushing and melasma. “Lip skin is very different from face skin, as we do not have hair follicles or sweat glands in our lips and they are, therefore, treated differently. Lip blushing techniques performed by a skilled artist will not cause melasma—it’s an excellent solution for darker lips or areas of the lips that are darker from sun damage, melasma, or genetics. There are neutralizing techniques and pigments to lighten and brighten darker pigment.”

What about people who already have lip filler?

“No problem at all!,” says Lange, who admits that it could actually be a plus. “Lip filler and lip blushing can go hand in hand. The lip filler often will stretch the skin and can make the skin more translucent; lip blushing is a great addition to define the shape and add color so you can see your lips without applying lip liners, lipsticks, or gloss.” lip blushing artist Ari Schweiger of Studio Sashiko L.A. says, adding, “Lip filler is not a contraindication for lip blushing. I do advise, however, to wait a minimum of 6 months after either procedure to get the other one done. You want to ensure that the first procedure is fully healed before doing the other.”

How many sessions should I commit to?

“Plan on two sessions, six weeks apart,” Lange says. “The first session lays most of the foundation with lip design, color, and implanted pigment. The second session is called the ‘perfecting session’ to enhance any imperfections with the pigment’s shape, color, and saturation.” Azimi additionally points out that sometimes, two may not be enough depending on the individual. “Most of the time the two sessions are enough to get the great result, but the human body can be very complicated. Sometimes the body rejects the color in a particular area and needs more sessions to complete the procedure. This doesn’t happen very often—some factors are in play like people that use peeling agents such as Retin-A, or retinol, undergoing chemotherapy or using some medications. With this, the possibility of the skin rejecting the color may increase and one may need more sessions.”

How do I choose a lip color?

It’s a well thought-out process that relies on expertise, Lange says. “As an artist, we look at the client’s natural lip color, and the desired healed color, to choose the correct blend to achieve the look. For example, for someone with very pale, translucent lips who wants a soft pink blush, there will not be the need to neutralize the lips, so choose a soft pink blush tone. On the other hand, if someone has dark lips and wants the same color, we need to neutralize using a warm tone to lighten and brighten the lips.”

How much time should I set aside for the first session, and what does that session usually entail?

“You should expect to spend 2-3 hours for a first session of lip blushing,” Schweiger says. She feels there also needs to be some communication beforehand between the client and the artist, so things run smooth. “You should start out by talking to your artist about certain goals and insecurities you may have that you want to address. After a full consultation has been carried out, the drawing process begins. Once a shape has been agreed upon by both the client and artist, a bright color pencil is used to fill the lips. The lips are outlined in white pencil to give a clear indication of what will be tattooed. I take Zensa’s Topical Numbing Cream and apply over the specific area. The client will then lay with a closed mouth for about 15-20 minutes while the numbing cream activates. Once they are numb, the topical cream is removed, and the outline process begins. Using a tattoo machine and a nano needle, both the top and bottom lip are lightly outlined. Lips are then wiped and numbed again with secondary numbing. Artists can use a variety of needles, from larger magnums to smaller shaders. About three passes are done over both top and bottom lip. The client should expect to be swollen with minimal pain for 24-48 hours. You can ice the lips as well as apply Arnica gel to reduce swelling.”

While an experienced artist will obviously inquire, it’s important that the client disclose some important medical information to the lip blushing artist, adds Azimi. “The first thing that I always ask from my clients that want to do lip blushing is if they’ve had any cold sore or herpes history. If the answer is yes, they need to take Valtrex or Valacyclovir before their procedure to protect themselves. Otherwise, the virus becomes active with this lip procedure.

How long is the healing process?

“Lip blushing takes approximately four weeks to fully heal,” Schweiger says. “During days 2-10 you will experience some peeling. It is important that you should never allow your lips to dry during this time. Use a lip balm approved by your artist. Patience is key after a lip blushing procedure.”

Azimi additionally stresses that all permanent makeup comes with pre- and post-instructions the client needs to follow, such as no swimming or entering a sauna for several days.

How permanent is the treatment?

Lange feels that the quality of the application has a lot to do with the color’s longevity. “It typically lasts 2-5 years before a ‘color refresh’ is desired,” Lange adds. “With all cosmetic tattooing, you don’t want pigment that will age with you. The ideal placement of pigment is in the upper layers of the skin. Your body gradually breaks down the pigment and softly exfoliates. If the pigment is applied too deep, scar tissue is formed, and the pigment may age in unnatural colors. Therefore, choosing the right artist who understands depth and technique is essential for a naturally desired result.”

What happens if I don’t like the color or result?

“There are removal options available if someone wants to remove the color,” Lange says, “However, the technique, done correctly, should look very natural and enhance one’s lips and appearance. Fortunately, there is always a way to correct a cosmetic tattooing disaster with removal or color correction. But the best way to avoid a disaster is to find the right artist.”

“Do your research about each artist as well as what you are committing to,” Schweiger adds. “This procedure is not easily removed, but can be lightened with multiple sessions of laser. It is always a good idea to know what you are looking for before taking the plunge.”