Photo by Mark Harrison
Sandy Dallmann is a tattoo artist -- sort of.
Instead of etching naked ladies, battleships or hearts draped with banners emblazoned "Mom" across the chests and biceps of male bikers and sailors, Dallmann uses the tattoo process to highlight the facial features and hide the scars of her female clientele.
You might say, what Dallmann inks into her clients' skin is not their grandfathers' tattoo.
Dallmann specializes in a form of tattooing called permanent cosmetics. She permanently tattoos eyeliner, lipstick and eyebrow makeup onto her clients.
Dallmann's business, Lasting Beauty, is inside Tina's Too salon in Soldotna. She works out of a small private office with a raised bed of sorts that her clients recline on while she works.
The office is decorated with a homey feel and looks more like someone's bedroom than a tattoo parlor.
Little of what Dallmann does resembles stereotypical tattooing, including the instrument she uses.
Dallmann doesn't use an electric tattoo gun. She applies the hypoallergenic pigment that acts as permanent makeup by hand, using a tool that looks like a small, angled paint bush -- the bristles replaced by a row of needles with hollow points that hold the pigment.
Having makeup tattooed on can save time and money. But some women are opting for permanent cosmetics because applying makeup properly can be difficult.
If their makeup is tattooed on, they don't have to worry about getting it right and the results can be rewarding.
"I had one women tell me, 'For the first time in my whole career the women in the office are telling me I look nice,'" Dallmann said.
Ziana Nelson didn't have much for eyebrows before getting them filled in with permanent cosmetics. She also didn't like putting on makeup and had a hard time getting her eyebrows to look right when she did.
"I'm not good about wearing makeup," she said. "I do wear makeup, but I could never put the eyebrows on so they look nice. They just looked weird."
Nelson's trouble with her eyebrow is common, according to Dallmann.
"Eyebrows are a mystery to most women. I found that women want a glamorous brow, but don't know how to get it," she said.
To make sure a woman gets the glamorous brow or any other kind she wants, Dallmann traces an outline her client approves before making it permanent.
In addition to permanent cosmetics, Dallmann does scar camouflage.
Scar tissue is usually lighter than the person's skin tone. By tattooing the scar with pigment that matches the skin tone, the scar become less noticeable. The tattoo needles also soften the tissue and make the scar less rough.
Kristy Gagnon got camouflage treatment from Dallmann on a scar she got from catching a fish hook in her chin 18 years ago when she was 12. The treatment made a noticeable difference.
"The scar's not as prominent anymore. She smoothed it out and gave it a little color," Gagnon said.
Dallmann said permanent cosmetics also can help in more extreme cases, such as adding the appearance of symmetry to a cleft lip or coloring in an areola missing after a mastectomy or breast reduction surgery.
Dallmann spent 16 years as an occupational therapist and said permanent cosmetics is more about self-esteem than it is about looks.
"It touches people beyond the look of their face. It touches their heart," she said.
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