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Permanent pretty

Local ladies are lining up to get tattoos at Minnesota State Community and Technical College--Wadena.

The permanent makeup program at the college gives a decidedly feminine twist, however, to the art form once reserved for decorating the arms of sailors and motorcycle riders. These women aren't baring their biceps for traditional tattoos. Instead, eyebrows, eyeliner and lips are the preferred subjects for a procedure called micro dermagraphics.

Ottertail resident Arlys Gunderson, 45, had permanent makeup applied to her eyebrows and lips at MSCTC--Wadena.

"I'm into trying something new," she said. "My tattoos are on my face and not anywhere else on my body."

She wanted to save time and revitalize her appearance.

"You always have some color on your lips," she said about the effect of the permanent makeup

Tattoos have become increasingly popular with younger Americans in recent years. But permanent makeup is most popular among an older clientele, said cosmetology student Jessica Melo. She has worked on women ranging in age from their 30s to 60s.

Permanent makeup is good for people who have difficulty applying makeup due to health problems or who are just tired of putting it on every day, Melo said.

Gunderson was very happy with the results of the procedure, she said. But she admits it didn't come without drawbacks.

"I wouldn't tell anybody it doesn't hurt," she said.

Even though the procedure was painful, particularly on the lips, she would do it again, she said.

Each client is different in their ability to tolerate pain, Melo said.

"[For] one person it's easy breezy, no pain," she said. "For some it can be very uncomfortable."

Students performing micro dermagraphics consult with the client to make sure they're a good candidate for the procedure, she said. They outline the dos and don'ts for the clients and have them sign a release form.

The procedure involves implanting pigment into the dermal layer of the skin. There is a healing process that is involved, she said. When the permanent makeup is first applied it looks dark, but it fades by 25 to 50 percent for a more subtle color.

The goal of the application is to enhance natural beauty and not create an artificial, clownish appearance, Melo said. The color will last three to seven years, depending on the environment clients live in. Sun exposure and tanning beds shorten the life of the makeup.

The college price is only a fraction of the "real world" cost for permanent makeup, said cosmetology student Brittney Schmitz. The initial application and a touch up is included in the cost of the procedure.

Melo and Schmitz not only apply the makeup, they have also undergone the procedure. Melo had her eyebrows, eyeliner and lips tattooed. Schmitz had her eyebrows done.

The makeup is popular with other cosmetology students including Meaghan Holmes and Becki Wagner. Holmes recently had her lips done.

"I have a lot of tattoos so I figured what's another one," Holmes said about her most visible application of body art.

Wagner recently had eyebrow and eyeliner permanent makeup applied. Now stylists can't mess up her eyebrows during waxings because there's a line to follow, she said. And she doesn't have to put her eyeliner on all the time.

Eyeliner is the most popular application among the college's clients, Melo said.

Schmitz has already applied permanent makeup to nearly a dozen clients in the class, she said. Schmitz plans on offering the procedure at her Ottertail shop Beauty by Britt starting in June.

MSCTC--Wadena micro dermagraphics instructor Catharine Stattelman operates a day spa near Pequot Lakes, Minn. She does as many as 12 permanent makeup procedures in a day, she said.

Stattelman has practiced micro dermagraphics for six years. There were only four other practitioners in Minnesota when she first started.

"It's more popular [now]," she said. "People know what it is."

The college is on the cutting edge of the permanent makeup trend in Minnesota. The micro dermagraphics program in Wadena is the first of its kind in the state, Stattelman said. More than 20 students have taken the class since it started last October. The class has one of the largest numbers of hours required in the nation, she said. Most programs require 60 hours. The MSCTC--Wadena class required 90 hours last year and will require 115 hours starting this fall, she said.

That's 25 more hours for MSCTC students to tattoo the women of Wadena. So watch out local Harley riders, your mother may soon have more tattoos than you.

For more information about the micro dermagraphics class

e-mail Stattelman at