Lips, Tattoos

Since lip blushing has become so popular at the studio in the last year or so, I really wanted to break the process down and answer some of the questions I get asked on such a regular basis that they tend to fill most of my week. Ha! 😜 While you’re here, you can also find lip blushing pre- and post-care to help achieve optimal results. If you’re just looking for that, jump down to the bottom!

So, lip blushing – what is it?
Lip blushing is a form of cosmetic tattooing that can enhance (not transform) the color and improve the shape of your lips. In turn, this can also give the impression of a more full and youthful lip appearance. Typically, the goal of the procedure is to smooth and even out the pigment throughout the lip area. As is my style, the color I select is more subtle to give the most natural-looking results. I always tell my clients: whether it’s brows, lips, or eyes, I want other people to notice a positive change in the way you look, but not necessarily be able to pinpoint it. You have the option to discuss (or refer 😛) at your own discretion.

I deposit a pigment formula that’s mixed specifically for you based on your lips’ natural coloring into the upper layers of your lip tissue. And before you ask – I can NOT cross over your vermillion border, which is what separates your face skin from your lip skin, so if you’re looking for something that can add volume, I suggest filler. (We recommend everyone to BodyLase in Cary – I’ve personally been to their location for different services, and they are phenomenal.) Most of the time, the natural color of your lips tends to dissipate into your facial skin tone before the actual vermillion border is reached. I find that border and bring the color all the way to that edge, which is where the enhanced shape comes from. Your lips are probably naturally fuller than you think they are!

What is the difference between lip blushing and filler?
Lip fillers are made from different gels, made from hyaluronic acid, that are naturally found in your skin. These gels, which can vary from more of a watery to a thicker consistency, are injected into your lip tissue. A trained injector can control where these gels are placed and mold them to create a fuller, more voluptuous look based on your preference.

So, to break that down further: lip blushing will enhance the color of your lips while also creating the illusion of bigger lips without adding any sort of actual volume, while lip fillers will add volume, but not affect the coloring. Got that? 😉

How long does lip blushing take, and how long does it last?
A session with myself is booked for two hours, and this is typically more than enough time to create a beautiful foundation, which can sometimes be all you need! I take the time to discuss your goals and we create a game plan to best achieve that. Once your pigment mixture is created (read on below to see how I choose the color), I may take the time to map you, which is essentially me locating your vermillion border. Mapping isn’t necessary with all clients, as sometimes I can already see a clear difference between the two skin textures.

When I begin tattooing, I start slow. I want to be able to see and feel how your lips are reacting to the service. Sometimes, one pass of color around your entire lip area can be enough. Other times, your lips may only be able to take in a certain amount of pigment in one session, while others can accept a bit more. Overworking the lips does nothing beneficial, so when your lips call it a day – I do too. If that means a third session may be needed (though rarely the case) I’ll make that happen.

Once you’ve completed your gifted perfecting session within 12 weeks (if needed), the coloring can last anywhere from 12-24+ months. It’s difficult to find an average lifespan for this service as everyone heals and ages pigment differently. Sun exposure and any sort of smoking can increase the rate that the pigment will fade.

How do you pick the color for lip blushing?
I get it all the time: a client will walk in with their top three favorite lipsticks and hope I can match them for their pigment. Though this does help me get an idea of your goals and what you like to see, it’s nearly impossible to accurately duplicate a lipstick, to the point that when I hear an artist say it is possible… I cringe.

We must remember that tattoo pigment is being implanted UNDER your skin. Think of your skin as a screen that the tattoo color is being shown through. That natural lip coloring will distort any pigment color I implant, so it’s my job to make sure we create a color that will be distorted in the cleanest and prettiest way. Let’s dive into this a bit more.

Let’s say you LOVE nude lipsticks! What creates a nude color? White and red. In nudes specifically, the red colorants will fade out faster than the white ones over time (that’s a whole other blog post for another day) – which can result in very pale, “dead-like” lips after a while. If we completely saturate your lips with pigment to achieve more of a “lipstick look,” when the color needs tweaking down the road, I won’t have any room to do so. (Appropriate touch-ups and a skilled artist will prevent unnatural long-term results, hence why this example is particularly so important.) 

In short, a skilled artist must fully understand both color theory and how individual colorants look and age over time in order to create an ideal look for now but also for the future.

Is lip blushing permanent?
Even though cosmetic tattooing can be called “semi-permanent” (which, in my opinion, is bad practice) because it ~can~ fade over time, I take every client on with the thought that it will remain, however I place it, forever. With that in mind, I tend to be cautious about the amount of pigment I tattoo anywhere. Some artists may not be as diligent in this, so in some cases it can truly be permanent. In a technical aspect, if performed well, the color is supposed to fade over time – think of it like the way a shadow dissipates over time. This leads me to the next question…

Is lip blushing dangerous? Can it be removed?
In my opinion, lip blushing is only dangerous when performed by someone who isn’t truly qualified. Lip tissue is very different in comparison to body and facial skin, and it doesn’t leave much room for error.

Laser removal is not advised to be used on lips, so poor work can turn into a problem easily. I have attempted saline removal on some clients and have had positive results, but it is a very time consuming (think: small change, 8-week intervals) and painful option. I think it’s safe to say that going to a qualified artist is the best option all around unless you want the risk of potential unsatisfactory results you may end up being ~stuck~ with.

How painful is lip blushing?
Having received the service myself, I like to describe the feeling as scratchy – like the feeling of a cat’s tongue. Over the course of the service, it can of course get a bit spicier – but nothing too overwhelming. I do have numbing anesthetics that can be used if needed.

What is the cost of lip blushing?
Though pricing around the Triangle fluctuates anywhere between $300-$1200+, our pricing at Inkvictus Studios is $525, which includes a gifted touch-up appointment within 12 weeks of your initial session.

I hope this helped with some of those burning questions! Have more? Contact us here! I’m happy to have a conversation with you about lip blushing tattoos, any other tattoos (take a look at our other services here), or we can schedule you for a complimentary 30-minute consultation so we can chat in person! Let us know! 🖤


NO Botox or lip fillers at least 6 weeks before/after your appointment.

if you have had a history of cold sores and/or fever blisters ever, you must take an antiviral medication (such as Valtrex) every day beginning 1 week before your appointment, the day of, and continue to use 1 week after. ***

if your lips are prone to drying/cracking, please hydrate them in the days leading up to your appointment with an ointment, balm, or mask such as Aquaphor. dry, cracked lips are difficult to work with and will often result in a poor healed result.

*** if you want to play it safe: according to the WHO, approximately 2/3 of adults have HSV-1, the virus that causes cold sores, and may not even be aware of it. lip blushing can activate this virus and trigger an outbreak. Lysine, an amino acid supplement available over the counter, has been shown to help prevent outbreaks and may be taken in the days leading up to your appointment.


the night of your appointment, gently wipe your lips with the antiseptic wipes provided in your aftercare kit.

you will want to apply a thin layer of the provided A&D ointment after the cleaning. 

continuously apply thin layers of the A&D ointment until all flaking has subsided, which can take anywhere from 1-7 days. it’s important to not oversaturate with the ointment, but also to never let the lips get too dried out over the first few days.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

• no application of any lip makeup for 1 week other than the A&D ointment that is given to you.

• no scratching, picking, or licking the dry skin or flakiness.

• only drink out of a straw until all flaking subsides.

• no spicy foods during the first 48 hours.

• no activities that will cause extreme sweating for 5 days.

• no swimming pools, hot tubs, or other bodies of water for 5 days.

• no UV exposure (including tanning booths) for 5 days.

• no laser light therapy for 6 weeks after the appointment, as it can darken/lighten or distort the pigment color.

• no exfoliants, retinol acids, glycolic acids, or alpha hydroxy acids on the area for 30 days after the appointment (causes premature fading).

• no massages, facials, or skin treatments for 5 days. 

xo, Natascha Rautenberg

See you next month!

extra, extra, Read all about it! Don't miss our monthly newsletter, jam-packed with thrilling updates, emerging talents, upcoming happenings, exclusive services, special offers, and so much more. 

sign up today to stay in the know!

hot off the presses!

hot off the presses!

1st weds of every month