The tattoo has gone cosmetic.
Sisters Leila Busby and Sheila Armbruster and Armbruster's daughter Melissa Jackson are walking billboards for their business, Defining Looks.
They explains the business is just what the name implies - defining a look for a woman who wants to leave the eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, lipliner and lipstick behind but still have the look. Through their new business, they say, it is possible.
Not a new procedure, Armbruster said she first became interested in the use of tattoos by the cosmetic industry some 10 years ago. It wasn't until recently, however, she was able to complete training in between her other jobs, including being a registered nurse, running a Christian school and operating a daycare. She and her sister, who are both licensed cosmetologists, and Armbruster's daughter, who is also a surgical technician graduate, attended the American Institute of intradermal Cosmetics in Arlington, Texas.
Through the program they became familiar with the procedures and the pigments available for cosmetic tattoos. They worked with live models perfecting the procedures they now use to create the look of eyeliner, eyebrows, lipliner and lipstick.
The third week of August, after undergoing a state licensing inspection, the trio opened Defining Looks at 677 N. Interstate Drive in Sikeston.
In the waiting room they are creating a Victorian atmosphere. It sits adjacent to three stations complete with recliners where the procedures are completed.
"There is a stigma to the tattoo label," admitted Armbruster. "I would never go to a tattoo parlor. Here we have tried to create more of a genteel atmosphere."
Customers begin by coming in for a consultation. After completing a health questionnaire, a patch test is conducted to determine if there are any allergic reactions.
Typically clients bring in their regular make-up and the color of the tattoo is matched to what they normally use. Because the pigments used are all natural, Armbruster said the pigments are safer than those used for the more familiar tattoos. Currently pigments are even undergoing testing for FDA approval.
They will discuss the procedures and the pain a client may feel. "Tattoos do hurt but these tattoos don't go as deep," said Armbruster.
Some people request their doctors prescribe something to relax them while they undergo the procedure or to help with the pain, she said. Others simply prefer the topical anesthetic and ointment used by as they begin the procedure.
A typical procedure is completed in an afternoon, she added. Once a treatment is complete, the client returns in about three weeks, giving them the opportunity to do any fine-tuning needed. "We want to make sure they are pleased," said Armbruster. "From then on, you just wash your face, put your moisturizer on and go."
The advantages over regular makeup are many, the women agreed.
"I'm always in a hurry," added Armbruster. "I like to just jump up and go, You don't have to work with it."
Another plus, added Busby, is for those people who wear glasses. They don't have to try to get their make-up just right and worry about how to see what they are doing.
"People who are allergic to regular eye makeup are candidates for tattoo, too," she added. Special non-allergenic cosmetics can become expensive and over the long run, Busby said, the tattoo can save money.
Sometimes, it is a way to enhance Mother Nature. Armbruster said she has already created eyebrows for a young woman who didn't have any. The results, she said, made her client very happy.
As their business expands, the women are finding more ways they can help others through their cosmetic procedures.
In November they plan to take a scar camouflage class. Also they are working with a Cape Girardeau plastic surgeon to assist women who have mastectomies. Following an implant, if a woman wants her breast to have a truly natural look they can provide a tattoo resembling a nipple.
All procedures are done by appointment with weekend and evening hours available.
For more information call Busby at 481-9409 or 225-7227; Armbuster at 472-3569 or Jackson at 481-0844.