Cosmetic tattooing is nothing new; at almost the same point in the last “tattoo trend” as it emerged in our current one, tattooing of permanent makeup became popular. This article, first printed in the London Mail is excerpted from The Washington Post, December 4th, 1904. Be sure to read the last paragraph by the way, it’s pretty funny.
How Women Now Achieve the Bloom that Won’t Come Off.
The idea of ladies having that delicate rose color which is the desire of all tattooed into their cheeks is not new, but it is only lately, writes a correspondent, that a permanent tint has been secured. Formerly there was the horrible possibility of the beautiful pink cheeks gradually assuming a purple tinge.
The new method of ordinary tattooing is by means of an electric needle. The instrument is wielded just like a pencil, the little needle darting in and out so quickly as to be almost imperceptible and forming a very fine line, which, for patternmaking, is a great advantage. For the face, however, the old-fashioned hand needle is often used, as it gives a soft, blurry effect. It is another proof of the readiness of woman to suffer in the cause of vanity. They are not however, called upon to suffer any sensation of pain, as cocaine is mixed with the paint. Many clients indifferently read a book during the process. The color is a harmless vegetable dye, and varies in tone to harmonize with different complexions. It is put on in a patch in the middle of each cheek, and then gradually shaded off round the edges.
A pair of rosy cheeks complete take two sittings of about two hours each to tattoo, and the sitter generally gives her face a week’s rest between them. When the operation is over the face is covered first with cream and then with a dusting of powder. For a couple of days the color is somewhat too vivid, but after that the upper skin, which has, of course, been honeycombed by the needle comes off in flakes and, underneath is the rose petal complexion.
A large number of men have undergone the operation. One explained that he had been in London for the last few years, but was going down into the country and and wished it to be thought that he was spending his time abroad! He wanted his neck and shoulders tattooed with brown to represent sunburn.
I have to admit that since I’ve been reprinting these old articles, I’m really curious about exactly how well cocaine in ink works… If someone decides to try it (a 10% solution is what the articles say is used), please let me know how it goes.