By John Wolcott HBJ Freelance Writer
SMOKEY POINT — Do your hands shake too much to apply eyeliner anymore? Do you have a facial scar that mars your self-image?
Do you wish the eyebrows you lost to cancer therapy would return? Do you dream of full red lips that always look that way?
An accomplished artist with a painter’s eye for seeing the best in faces, Penny Rudy can makes those wishes reality for patients at her Chrysalis Clinic of Permanent Cosmetics in Arlington’s Smokey Point neighborhood.
Her business is named for the chrysalis cocoon in which lowly caterpillars transform into butterflies.
Technically known as micropigment or intradermal implantation, her work is a type of tattooing used specifically to create permanent cosmetics or camouflage skin imperfections with stable pigments, not inks that can sometimes migrate under the skin.
“I help people feel better on the inside by improving their appearance with full eyebrows, rich colored lips or even scar camouflaging,” Rudy said. “Everyone has been so overjoyed by their transformation. I’ve never had a patient who said they regretted doing it. The changes I make in their appearance can restore dignity and instill self-confidence as well as enhance their natural features.”
She knows that people’s sense of how they look to others can have a significant impact on how feel when they go to work each day, apply for jobs or take on public roles in society. Over her 13 years in business, she’s proven she not only has the right touch artistically but also the right psychological approach to make people of all ages feel comfortable.
A woman in Woodinville wrote that finding Penny was “one of the biggest blessings in my life. … The work you have done on my eyes, brows and lips is great! I’m so comfortable sending you clients.”
Similar praises have come from clients in Bellevue, Mount Vernon, Snohomish County, Oregon, California and Canada.
“Most of my clients are in their early 50s, men and women both, although my oldest client is 94,” she said. “No matter their age, people like to look good.”
There’s no limit to the variety of reasons people seek treatment, Rudy said. Some may want help to apply for a professional job role where appearance is important; others may have arthritic or unsteady hands and can no longer apply makeup well. Some men want fuller, more masculine eyebrows, she said.
Other people may have allergies to conventional makeup, have little or no eyebrow hair, thin or light eyelashes, or surgical scars or birthmarks that need camouflage with permanent cosmetics.
She’s even able to help those who have facial hair loss due to chemotherapy treatments or alopecia, an immune system deficiency that causes hair loss. For women who have had mastectomies or breast reconstruction, Rudy can tattoo 3-D nipples and areolas, which she finds boosts those clients’ morale.
Rudy said that while many people resist the idea of tattooing as a solution, they open up after she explains her work and how permanent cosmetics techniques have advanced in recent years while the cost of treatment has fallen.
She uses the gentle SofTap hand method, a trademarked process that includes a local anesthetic on the treatment area. The procedures are quick and heal rapidly with beautiful results, she said, adding that professional methods are safe, sanitary and provide “a beautiful, natural look.”
Consultations are free, with services priced from less than $500 to more than $1,200, depending on the service each client chooses. Costs vary if multiple services are rendered. Because the results are designed specifically to satisfy each need exactly, being permanent is an advantage, not a concern.
“It helps my clients to know that I’m a Washington state licensed and certified permanent cosmetic technician,” she said. “I’ve worked professionally in this field since 1999, I even train others in advanced courses and I’m professionally well respected throughout the industry. My training as an artist really makes all of this possible and people relate well to me because I take the time to understand their needs and concerns.”
One woman client was so sensitive about her appearance that she would hardly lift her head and look Rudy in the eye when they first met. Rudy’s cosmetology skills and artistic tattooing techniques transformed her.
“This has become the perfect work for me,” she said. “My parents were both artists, which provided me with a variety of artistic avenues, including my own drapery and decorating business, painting murals in businesses and homes, and teaching art classes.”
A California arrival to Washington in 1988, Rudy discovered her fascination with cosmetics at Everett Community College’s School of Cosmetology, where she later became an advisory committee member. She’s an advisory committee member for the state Department of Licensing and helped to pass legislation regulating the tattoo industry to ensure professionalism and public safety.
“So much of my work is through referrals from doctors who have patients with surgical scars or survivors of breast cancer,” she said.
Rudy’s work with breast cancer patients also led her to serve on a committee of the Network of Strength, a national breast cancer organization, and she is a former board member of the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals. Her office wall is filled with her certificates of training and membership in professional organizations.
Lately, she’s been promoting her business through her website and by hiring Jonathan Holbrook of Tall Taurus Media in Everett to produce videos of her work.
“I always have to win the trust of every single client and it really helps to be able to show them photos and videos of the process,” she said.
Rudy said she frequently she hears feedback from husbands.
“At first, they often know they see a difference because their wife looks fresher, or even younger, but they aren’t sure what has changed,” she said.
For more information, go to www.chrysalisclinic.com, call 360-657-7040 or visit the Chrysalis Clinic at 3204 Smokey Point Drive, Suite 201, Arlington.