December 13th, 2017
I can’t quite believe it’s December already… the season of parties and prezzies. I do love all the sparkle and the dressing up but, the truth is, the thing I really enjoy about this time of year is planning for the coming year. Early in 2018, the thing I’m most looking forward to is my Gift of Confidence Day in London.
I’ve been hosting these events for a few years now and I absolutely love them. They give me the chance to meet and treat lovely people who have just been through a particularly tough time in one way or another, and who very much deserve a bit of pampering to give them a boost.
When I say pampering, I don’t mean a back massage and a glass of fizz. I use my tattooing skills to help people regain their self-esteem after they’ve been affected by illness or disfigurement. This really is one of my biggest passions in life. As a BUPA-registered paramedical tattoo artist, being able to restore and recreate people’s physical features is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.
While most people these days are familiar with permanent makeup, not so many are aware of the specialist paramedical uses of cosmetic tattooing, so I thought I’d tell you a bit more about this side of my work in my column this month.
I guess the most obvious use of permanent makeup is in recreating eyebrow hair lost through chemotherapy treatment, alopecia or other health conditions. To give you an example, I recently recreated TV presenter Gail Porter’s eyebrows. She’s the unofficial spokesperson for alopecia in the UK, and it was very special for me because her reaction to her new brows when I passed her the mirror was so wonderful. It’s not just brows, though. There’s also a technique I use to mimic lashes and, together, they reframe my clients’ faces and make them feel human again.
Let’s have a look at lips now. What can I do there? Here again, permanent make-up isn’t just about having luscious lippy 24/7. For some people born with a cleft lip, the telltale scar they’ve had all their life can lead to a lack of confidence, but there are tattooing techniques I use to disguise the scar, create symmetry and, along with that, a real blossoming in clients’ confidence. It’s lovely to see.
Facially, there’s lots of redefinition and camouflage trickery I can do for people with scars and burns. Namedrop alert! I work with another famous TV presenter, author and inspirational speaker Katie Piper, who you may remember suffered a terrible acid attack back in 2008. The Katie Piper Foundation does amazing work for people with burns scarring – and my tattooing treatments are just part of what they offer, so check out Katie’s website for more info if you or someone you know needs the Foundation’s support.
Another real fighter I met very recently is restaurateur-turned-interior designer Alex Lewis. In an absolutely unimaginable turn of events back in 2013, what he thought was Man Flu turned into devastating Strep A toxic shock syndrome, septicaemia and necrotising fasciitis, which led to him losing all four limbs and his lips. Surgeons recreated his mouth with skin grafts, but there was obviously no lip-like pigmentation on that skin. I met up with Alex back in February and we’ve been working together every month since to recreate his lips… along with some very manly designer stubble. The stippling technique I use for mimicking stubble is one of the many I use to recreate breast areolas for people who’ve had mastectomies. I also use shading and blending to create the optical illusion of a real nipple. It’s challenging, but very satisfying work.
Well, I hope that’s given you a clearer picture of paramedical tattooing. As you can imagine, working in this specialist field means there are emotional and physical hurdles you don’t come across working as a mainstream permanent make-up technician. If you think it’s a career path you’d like to take, I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to work sensitively. You need to be calm, extra-patient and a good listener. The things my patients have been through prior to walking through my clinic door are unimaginable, so I do everything I can to make sure they’re comfortable. It makes all the difference when someone is putting all their faith in your skills. It’s not just skin deep… it’s about giving people their confidence back when they felt it had disappeared forever.
For me, spreading the word about the positive effects that medical and cosmetic tattooing has on people’s confidence and self-esteem is so important, and I feel very lucky to have a platform to do exactly that in my Gift of Confidence Day. So, yes, stand by… because I’ll be sharing all the details about it with you in my January column and you’ll also be able to follow my Gift of Confidence group’s journeys on social media.
Until then, if you’d like to find out more about training in permanent cosmetics or about paramedical treatments, here are a couple of links:
All that’s left for me to say this month is… have a fabulous festive season, and I’ll see you in 2018!