September 26th, 2017
For many make-up artists, transforming their clients is one of the most important parts of the job. In many ways permanent make-up is a vital part of allowing MUAs to do this, especially to help those who are suffering with alopecia. Permanent make-up can give alopecia sufferers the confidence back that they might have lost as well as their hair. Karen Betts is one of the UK’s leading authorities on medical tattooing and permanent make-up with over 20 years experience, and has teamed up with Scottish TV presenter Gail Porter this month for Alopecia Awareness Month to show how make-up artists can do their part to help those suffering.
Warpaint spoke to Karen and Gail to find out more
WP: Karen, you’re renowned for your work with permanent make-up. What brought you into this side of the industry?
Karen: I ventured into this field after a childhood friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was not content with being just a pillar of support and wanted to be able to do more. At the time, I ran a hair and beauty salon and a conventional tattooist used to rent one of my rooms, I thought that if you could adorn people’s bodies with such complex art, why could you not develop a technique that would subtly enhance or replace facial features?
That is when I started my research and discovered something called micropigmentation. I trained to do permanent cosmetics in 1996 and went on to complete an international training certificate at the Lemor Institute in America. I have spent the last 20 years honing my skills from around the world and working with experts in the fields of burns, scars, hair loss, and breast reconstruction.
WP: What do you feel are the key attributes needed to add this to a makeup artist’s skill set?
Karen: Attention to detail, an understanding of the Fitzpatrick classification scale and the desire to continuously learn and develop one’s abilities.
WP: Alopecia Awareness is close to your heart. Tell us how your connection came about and the work that you do with them.
Karen: I work very closely with the charity Alopecia UK and support them by offering sufferers discounted treatments. One of my staff members also has alopecia totalis – we met at the Gift of Confidence event I used to run annually, beautiful inside and out, I knew I wanted her to become part of my team so I asked her to join the company and I am so glad she did. She has been invaluable especially with clients who also have alopecia as she understands the psychological effects alopecia can have on someone’s confidence. Around a year ago I also reached out to Gail Porter, I offered to microblade her eyebrows and she accepted the offer. She says they really boosted her confidence, and I’m so happy to have done that for her.
WP: The relationship between artist and client is one based on trust, especially with permanent make-up. How important is the pastoral side of this?
Karen: I take giving my clients the most appropriate advice for them as an individual very seriously. I never approach a client with a one treatment fits all approach as every face and reason for wanting permanent cosmetics is personal to the individual. I am also very careful not to tell people that they need permanent makeup for areas they may be happy with, it is important to listen to what a client wants first then give professional recommendations on the most complimentary shape and colour for their features. A good example of this is not to assume someone with fair fine brows is coming for a brow consultation as they may in fact want eyeliner.
WP: Gail, you’re an ambassador for Alopecia Awareness, the charity that deals with a condition that continues to be misunderstood. How key is dialogue to dispel the myths?
Gail: It is incredibly important to talk about alopecia. I always want to be there if people want to talk about their hair loss because so many people don’t have anyone to talk to. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, having alopecia, but you have to be strong and talking honestly about it really helps.
WP: Tell us about your relationship with Karen and how you work together.
Gail: About a year ago, Karen got in touch with me and asked if I fancied trying out microblading for my eyebrows. At first I was nervous but Karen was brilliant and talked me through the whole procedure. Karen drew on my face before she did the microblading so I knew it was going to be fine! And then she did all these tiny little strokes. When I first looked in the mirror after having them done I burst into tears. I had my face back again.
WP: How can make-up artists and hairdressers help clients who may be experiencing hair loss?
Gail: Focusing on their natural features is probably the best thing they can do. When you lose your hair you almost lose part of you, so applying make-up that really accentuates their natural features can be the real confidence boost that they need.
WP: How has working with Karen been beneficial?
Gail: For starters it has really boosted my confidence. When you lose your eyebrows, it’s like your face has been rubbed out and you have no expressions. Thanks to Karen and her incredible work, I have a face.
For more information about alopecia, including details of ways to get support, please visit www.alopecia.org.uk