Permanent makeup, also known as micropigmentation, is an application that consists of treatments such as microblading and eyebrow and lip tattoos. These treatments have become a trend among women as a convenient, cost-effective and long-term solution for looking their best at all times of the day, and at every stage of life—including during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  

But, is it safe to get permanent makeup while breastfeeding? While applying permanent makeup can be a safe procedure, it is not recommended to get while breastfeeding. It is best for moms to wait until after the breastfeeding stage to avoid increased side effects and risks that can come with these treatments.

As with every procedure, there are potential side effects and risks to permanent makeup application, and some of them can affect how well moms can produce breastmilk for their baby.

Many medical professionals, and permanent makeup practitioners alike, will recommend that new mothers wait to pursue cosmetic tattoos due to these factors. 

Risks of Permanent Makeup 

Some of the common risks of permanent makeup application, especially for breastfeeding women, include the following:

Infection

With any procedure involving cosmetic tattoos, or tattoos in general, there is always a risk for infection or disease. 

While all certified practitioners do their very best to ensure they use sterile instruments and fresh bottles of pigment and perform the procedure in a clean environment, there is always a chance for infection; most of the time this can occur after the treatment has been completed.

For example, if you do not adequately care for the treatment area, or touch your face without disinfecting your hands first, the sensitive region can quickly become home to bacteria and later infection. Early symptoms that you may experience include:

  • Discharge or pus around the treatment area
  • Raised or hardened tissue
  • Fever or chills

Eliminating and Preventing Infection 

However, in some cases, the infection may not show any of these symptoms at first and may begin to spread or worsen without your knowledge until later. In more severe cases, it can enter the bloodstream, and eventually into the breastmilk, putting your baby at risk. 

Trying to reduce and eventually remove the infection can also prohibit moms from actively being able to breastfeed:

  • While the body is fighting the resulting disease, your ability to consistently produce healthy breastmilk for your child can be hindered, similarly to if you were to catch a bad cold or the flu. 
  • In addition, it can become more challenging to treat the infection, as many pharmaceuticals can interact with the breastmilk produced; you will likely need to stop breastfeeding for some time to eliminate the infection and keep your baby safe.

If you are getting or already have a cosmetic tattoo, it is vital to maintain the treatment site according to the practitioner’s aftercare instructions to avoid infection; make sure you are mindful of washing your hands regularly before touching your face, and avoid using regular makeup and brushes (even clean brushes) on the area until it heals completely. 

Allergic Reaction 

According to spokesman Stanley Milstein, Ph.D., of the FDA in Washington, D.C.:

“Allergic reactions to pigments are reasonably rare, but it’s difficult to remove the irritant. Anytime you implant a foreign body into the skin, it has the potential for results not anticipated. The reaction could occur years later as a rash or an immune system allergic reaction.” 

Source: WebMD

The ingredients used in the pigments for permanent makeup may not harm your baby directly through breastmilk, but having to treat your possible allergic reaction to them may hinder the breastfeeding process for some time. 

Although allergies to specific pigments are quite rare in the medical world, they do exist, and it is essential that you have an allergen skin test performed with your doctor or a specialist to ensure that you carry no risk for triggering an allergic reaction if you plan on getting a permanent tattoo. 

To avoid allergic reactions from happening entirely, make sure you do your research first by exploring the specific ingredients that can be found in different pigments and whether or not you are allergic to them based on what you discover with your doctor. 

Side Effects of Permanent Makeup 

Hormonal Effects 

The hormonal levels in women, especially the hormones responsible for promoting lactation, can affect the long-term effects of permanent makeup, and the application process as well. For example, some women may find that their skin is more resistant to cosmetic tattoo applications due to the increase or fluctuation of hormones during and after pregnancy. As a result: 

  • These “permanent” applications may not last as long as they usually would and may begin to fade far earlier than the three- to four-year average lifetime of most permanent makeup applications. 
  • The pigmentation used in these applications could also fail to remain in place between the upper layers of the skin and eventually lead to a “runny” or misshapen look over time that will need retouching later; this is particularly more likely with tattooed eyebrows or lips. 
  • The active hormones could affect the final coloring of the pigment used for your cosmetic tattoo. For example, if your goal is to have dark-brown colored eyebrows, you may find the coloring gradually resembles a dark blue after a few weeks to months.  

Painful Effects 

The face is one of the more sensitive areas of the body. However, some mothers may have increased sensitivity in the facial nerves and therefore will experience more pain during a permanent makeup procedure, even with a practitioner’s use of anesthetics and numbing creams. By undergoing a large amount of pain, the mom’s stress levels could significantly increase; this could lead to lower production of breast milk, and in some cases, a complete halt in production. 

Post-Pregnancy Effects 

The female body goes through a series of changes during each stage of pregnancy, from conception to the birth of the child, and later starting breastfeeding. Each woman experiences different symptoms and side effects during early motherhood, so the impact of an external change, such as a cosmetic tattoo, will also fluctuate. For example, moms may experience light-headedness or even risk fainting during an appointment due to lower blood pressure. 

Other Considerations for Permanent Tattoos

If you do decide to pursue permanent makeup treatment, other factors to consider include the technician you choose to get the procedure done with. Make sure that you heavily research your options before moving forward and go with a reputable, certified cosmetic professional. If you are unsure where to start: 

  • A good place of reference is the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals website, where they have a directory of certified, cosmetic tattoo professionals listed for different states. 
  • Your primary care physician or a trusted dermatologist may also have access to a network of permanent makeup specialists in your area. 

The best practitioner will recommend what’s best for you and your baby; you may be surprised that some technicians will not offer permanent makeup treatments to pregnant or breastfeeding women, while others will still perform the procedure—but not before having you sign a waiver and thoroughly explaining the potential risks of receiving the treatment. 

The best cosmetic tattoo technicians may also recommend that you use an easy-to-use breast pump, such as the Bellaby Electric Breast Feeding Pump (Amazon), to store bottles of breast milk for your baby before the procedure in case you are unable to breastfeed following the appointment.    

For Mothers Who Decide to Wait

Of course, it is always best to be safe and wait until after your little one has transitioned from breastfeeding before getting permanent makeup. If you do decide to wait to get the procedure done, most technicians and doctors will recommend waiting at least nine to twelve months after giving birth to your child. 

This is usually around the time when your child will no longer be dependent on only breastmilk, and the chances of hormone levels interacting with the pigments and actual procedure before and after is significantly reduced.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to pursue cosmetic tattooing or wait, it is best to consult your doctor and pediatrician first before making any decisions. They will be able to assess you and your baby’s current health post-pregnancy and determine if it is safe for you to undergo a permanent makeup treatment.