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What is the difference between lip blushing and permanent lip color?

Lip color has become an increasingly popular cosmetic procedure in recent years. Two of the most common techniques for achieving long-lasting lip color are lip blushing and permanent lip color. Both provide extended wear lip color that lasts for years, but there are some key differences between the two procedures.

What is Lip Blushing?

Lip blushing, also known as lip tinting or lip staining, is a semi-permanent makeup procedure that deposits color pigment into the lips. It is applied using a technique similar to microblading for eyebrows. The technician uses a handheld tool with several tiny needle tips to gently tattoo color into the lips in thin, hair-like strokes.

Lip blushing results in a softened, blurred lip line and a light wash of color. It is more subtle than traditional lipstick or permanent makeup. The color is designed to look like a natural stain as if you just ate a popsicle. Lip blushing can add definition and shape to the lips, but it looks very natural.

The color typically lasts 1-3 years before fading. Lip blushing requires an annual touch-up to maintain the color. It is semi-permanent, not permanent. The pigment will gradually fade over time.

What is Permanent Lip Color?

Permanent lip color, also known as permanent makeup, is a tattoo procedure that deposits heavier amounts of color pigment into the lips. It involves using a machine with a handpiece and needles to tattoo color deeper into the dermal layer of the lips.

Permanent lip color creates a bolder, more defined lip shape with opaque, saturated color. The results are similar to wearing lipstick. It can camouflage uneven lips and give the appearance of larger, fuller lips. The color is designed to be permanent and remain for many years.

While permanent lip color does not completely fade, the pigment will slowly break down and lighten over time. Periodic touch-ups every 2-5 years are recommended to keep the color looking fresh.

Key Differences

Here is an overview of the main differences between lip blushing and permanent lip color:

Lip Blushing Permanent Lip Color
Subtle, softened color Bolder, heavier color
Sheer, stained look Opaque, lipstick-like look
Feathery hair-strokes Solid color filling
Minimal shaping Reshapes and defines lips
Semi-permanent (1-3 years) Permanent (5+ years)

Ideal Candidates

The best candidates for each procedure depends on the desired look and expectations for longevity:

  • Lip blushing is ideal for those wanting very natural looking, low maintenance lip color. It works best on clients with nice lip shape and definition who want just a touch of staining. The subtle results are beautiful on younger clients.
  • Permanent lip color is preferred for those who want brighter, longer lasting color. It is great for mature clients with fading lip definition who want their lipstick color to last. The dramatic results create a made-up look.


The procedure for each service also varies:

  • Lip blushing involves thin hair-strokes deposited gently into the lips for a delicate look. Only 1-2 appointments are usually needed.
  • Permanent lip color requires more sessions, around 2-4 appointments, to achieve fuller and more opaque coverage. The tattooing is done at deeper levels of the skin.

Lip blushing tends to be less painful since it is more superficial. Permanent lip color has some discomfort due to deeper needle penetration.

Healing and Side Effects

The healing process and potential side effects include:

  • Lip blushing: Minimal swelling and tenderness for a few days. Temporary dryness or flaking. Fades naturally over time.
  • Permanent lip color: More pronounced swelling, bruising, redness for the first week. Slight tenderness for a couple weeks. Rare risks of infection or allergic reaction. Color lightens gradually over years.

With proper aftercare, both procedures heal relatively smoothly with few issues.

Cost Comparison

On average, permanent lip color costs significantly more than lip blushing:

Procedure Average Cost
Lip Blushing $400 – $800 per session
Permanent Lip Color $600 – $1,500 per session

However, lip blushing requires more frequent touch-ups. The overall long-term investment for permanent lip color may be higher.


Lip blushing and permanent lip color require the following maintenance:

  • Lip blushing: Annual touch-ups needed to refresh the color and maintain results.
  • Permanent lip color: Touch-ups needed every 2-5 years. Some clients get annual refreshing.

Permanent lip color lasts longer between appointments, but occasional touch-ups are still required. An artist should evaluate fading and determine when a refresh is needed.


Removing or reversing each procedure involves:

  • Lip blushing: The semi-permanent pigment will fade on its own over 1-3 years. No removal is required unless desired.
  • Permanent lip color: Laser tattoo removal or surgical excision may be done to fully remove stubborn pigment. Several treatments are usually required.

Lip blushing is lower committment. Permanent lip color removal is challenging if a client later decides they want it gone.

Results Comparison

The results from each service can be summarized as:

  • Lip blushing: Subtle, soft color that looks like a stain. Mimics a natural, youthful lip tint.
  • Permanent lip color: Bold, defined lip shape and full coverage opaque color. Provides a dramatic, made-up look.

Lip blushing aims to enhance natural lip beauty, while permanent lip color creates a new shape and highly pigmented result.


Lip blushing and permanent lip color both offer long-lasting lip color, but have significant differences in their appearance, longevity, process, and maintenance needs. Lip blushing provides a very natural look with semi-permanent color, while permanent lip color is bold and long-lasting but requires more sessions. The best procedure depends on personal preference and lip enhancement goals.

Overall, lip blushing is more delicate and natural looking while permanent lip color offers more dramatic definition and color. With a skilled and experienced artist, both can provide beautiful results and boost confidence in your smile.