I’ve always wanted fuller, pillowy, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley-esque lips, so as you can imagine, I’m a sucker for lip plumpers, liner and just anything that will give me a juicy pout. You’d think I would’ve considered fillers, but I’ve seen too many “duck faces” to take the plunge. So instead, I decided to have my lip line tattooed.
My lips before
Now I know that might sound even scarier than fillers, but it’s actually not at all. In fact, it’s far from the ‘90s style lip line tattoo you might imagine (READ: a dark brown thick line) – providing you go to the right place.
To help me achieve fuller lips, I turned to the experts at Amy Jean Eye Couture, who offer a ‘Kiss Me Lip Tint Tattoo’ treatment. I’d stalked their work on Instagram and Amy Jean’s team already have and incredible reputation with their Feather Touch Brow Tattoo, so I knew I’d be in safe hands.
Before the treatment
Amy Jean had advised me to take Lysine supplements if I suffered from cold sores in the week leading up to the treatment.
When you arrive, they apply anaesthetic to numb the area – this takes half an hour to kick in, so I got my Instagram scroll on.
Once my lips were feeling tingly, I began my consultation with their artist, Gwen. I talked her through what I wanted (slightly fuller, defined lips – but still really natural-looking).
She proceeded to draw my lip line on in the shape that she’d be tattooing it. This part of the consultation took about 20 minutes because Gwen is an absolute perfectionist.
The liner is a preview of exactly what your lips will look like (apart from the colour – I’ll get to that later). It’s important to sit up to double check the shape, and to test out how it looks when you smile.
The tattoo preview with liner
Checking my smile
Once I gave Gwen the tick of approval, we discussed colour options.
My lips have a very pink pigment naturally, so Gwen decided to use three different colours to blend the lip line into my natural lip colour. We went for a mix of red and pink for the outline, graduated into a softer pink so it blended seamlessly into the middle section of my lips. They choose the colour on a case by case basis, according to Amy Jean:
"Generally [we choose] a deeper colour for the outline then a creamier, softer version as it flows into the centre, then almost no colour in the very centre. This gives the illusion of a 'pout'."
During the treatment
I’ve never had any kind of tattoo before, so I was pretty nervous as to what the sensation would be like – especially considering the lips are a very sensitive area.
Gwen held my lips in place and I could feel the subtle vibrations of the gun before it even touched my lips, so this helped prepare me for what was ahead. It should be noted that it's not the usual kind of tattoo gun, either.
"It’s a less invasive gun that has very light vibrations that penetrate the skin. It is not painful and doesn’t sound like a buzzing/oscillating machine," explained Amy Jean.
She worked the gun across my lips in very small sections at a time. It was a vibrating, prickling feeling, which occasionally felt like a mini toothpick jabbing me. So TBH, it wasn’t as excruciating as I’d imagined it would be. And my lips weirdly got used to the 'pain' or lack thereof.
This is what the first outline looked like. My lips had already started to swell. I was relieved at how thin and accurate the first line was.
My lips before and STRAIGHT AFTER the treatment
The whole tattooing process went for about 40 minutes, with Gwen interchanging the colour throughout to get my lip colour perfectly blended with the line. By this stage, my lips felt HUGE. And I was quite shocked by how much swelling I had – my lips looked darker and very full. But Gwen assured me the colour would fade and that the swelling would go down within a few hours.
Luckily it did. I went straight back to work afterwards and everyone was obsessing over my huge lips. I was still a little overwhelmed by the swelling, but completely trusted Gwen and the Amy Jean team that my lips would look more natural the following day.
Looking after them
The post-treatment care was pretty minimal – no touching, and apply the nourishing antiseptic cream they provided twice a day.
"Avoid exfoliants, oils, lipsticks and spicy foods for one week," Amy Jean advised.
Gwen, my artist, also recommended having a top up treatment within 3 - 4 weeks to ensure the line lasts up to 10 years. As Amy Jean pointed out though, "the lip tint lasting depends on your skin's chemistry and your exposure to the elements but generally 5-10 years."
The top up also ensures they can correct any fading inconsistencies and so the lip line looks crisp.
As you can see, they were pretty swollen, but they didn't tingle afterwards or hurt whatsoever. In fact, I was surprised I didn't even need to take any Nurofen.
The next day
When I woke up the following day, the swelling had gone down dramatically and the outline was very obvious, albeit a bit '90s. But I actually kind of loved it.
Two days later
The next day, my lips began to peel and they felt a bit dry and cracked, I probably went a bit overboard with the cream application to compensate.
Three days later
On the third day, the outline had faded A LOT, and I could see how well Gwen had blended the ink colours into my natural pigment. According to Amy Jean, you should expect your lips to fade anywhere from 25 - 50%, and peeling to occur over days 3 - 7, just depending on your skin type.
Four days later
On the fourth day, I experienced some more light peeling.
Six days later
Almost a week later and my lips were looking very RHW. I noticed a huge difference when I smiled, because usually my top lip would just disappear, but now it remained fuller.
Eight days later
A little bit more peeling on the eigth day, which was to be expected.
Before and after
Even with a bigger smile, my top lip is now much fuller.
No duck face for me. Woop!
All in all, I'm amazed by the results and I'm in love with my fuller lips. When I wake up in the morning, my face already feels "done" but in a very natural way, and I save time applying liner and plumping lip gloss.
But if for any reason you're not happy with the results, it can be removed with laser cosmetic tattoo removal.
Where to go: Amy Jean Eye Couture salons are located Australia-wide in Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. There have also been Pop Up Salons in New York, Paris and Milan.
Cost: 'The Kiss Me Lip Tint Tattoo' is $1195 and includes the retouch follow up. Refreshments of colour thereafter (say 3-5 years later) from $350.