As the needle went into her lip, Karine Barry believed she was in good hands.
Sick of the temporary cosmetic lip-lining tattoo she’d been getting in Australia, the Melbourne mum- of-two had decided to get something more permanent.
‘I was in Tahiti visiting my parents,’ she tells New Idea. ‘For Islanders, tattooing is part of their life. They’re usually brilliant at it. To be honest, I did zero research, but I trusted the man I found.’
Unused to tattooing in colour, alarm bells perhaps should have rung when the tattooist explained the process he’d use to achieve the desired burgundy Karine required.
‘He said he’d mix blue and green and purple,’ Karine, 50, remembers. ‘He said it would look green initially, but fade to burgundy.’
After parting with $250 and spending 30 minutes in the chair, Karine was horrified by the resulting bright green lip outline.
‘My son refused to sit next to me on the plane home and my mum went crazy,’ she says.
‘Back home, as a receptionist I was the face of a big company. I kept reassuring my boss the green around my lips would fade, but three months later it was actually greener as the pigment had settled into my skin.’
Karine spent the next few months fending off cruel stares and comments from strangers. ‘My husband joked I looked like a clown, but when he realised my misery, he didn’t carry on too much,’ she says. ‘Honestly though, I did look like a clown. It was awful.’
Months later, in December 2016, a friend recommended a laser removal clinic, Laser Dermatology in Box Hill, Victoria, and desperately Karine made an appointment.
‘They couldn’t promise good results as it was a foreign ink, with a colour that is the most difficult to shift and in an area they hadn’t treated before,’ she says. ‘I was a guinea pig, but I didn’t have much choice.’
This time, luck was on her side and the laser removed all the bottom lip colour in just one treatment.
‘I could have hugged the girl!’ Karine laughs. ‘I had to go back three more times for the top lip, but 12 months later and it’s all gone.’
Tattoo-free and happy, Karine says she has learnt her lesson.
‘My boss is happy, my son is OK to be seen with me again and I’m relieved I don’t have to look like that for the rest of my life,’ she says. ‘I still like the lip-line look, but I’m not sure if I will try it again.’
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea - out now!