Paramedical or cosmetic tattooing is becoming increasingly popular as the industry adapts to improve and evolve through smaller needles and better ink. Paramedical tattoos are done after a surgery or illness has altered the patient’s appearance in order to bring balance or a sense of “normalcy” back to the physical appearance. Unlike traditional tattoos, paramedical ink is meant to blend in and avoid drawing attention. How do you learn about paramedical tattooing? Easy, you just need to talk to Feleshia Sams.

Sams runs the Academy of Advanced Cosmetics, which “offers unique training in cosmetic applications such as Permanent Makeup (Cosmetic Tattooing), Eyelash Application and Paramedical Tattooing for beginners and advanced technicians alike.” As paramedical tattoos become more popular, more people are seeking out the special training which Sams offers—but how did Sams learn? Who taught her? Where did this whole thing begin?

"I grew up with a single mom who was an entrepreneur who taught me a strong work ethic and always encouraged me to pursue my dreams," Sams said. "I first started out doing makeup in college and started my own cosmetic line. I was the go-to girl for photo shoots... I then got burned out of traditional makeup." 

Via Sams

Via Sams

Sams needed something new, and after seeing a friend get her lips cosmetically tattooed, Sams' interest was peaked. "She told me that it was permanent and she didn't have to apply lipstick any more—I was amazed," but Sams' friend had gone all the way to Arizona for her procedure—quite a ways from Atlanta. "Immediately after our conversation, I researched permanent makeup schools and found only a handful but none in my area—However, I did find a permanent makeup artist so I just took a chance and asked her to train me,"

"After much convincing she brought me in as an apprentice." Sams' instructor taught her the tebori method, and had Sams tattoo brows, lips, and more with simply ink and a needle—no machine. "It took a long time but it was absolutely beautiful," Sams said. Sams wanted to learn more besides tebori, "So I traveled to Texas for further training and this is where I learned the coil machine," she said. "I found this method to go much faster and last much longer."

Before Sams

Before Sams

After Sams

After Sams

Sams confidence and love for the industry skyrocketed the more she learned, this is when she discovered the medical aspect of cosmetic tattoos. "I took advanced courses in medical tattooing which was pretty much flat basic areola’s with no nipples and coloring in scars," Sams said. "This was not going to work for me, so I took to learning from a tattoo body artist on how to add dimension and blend colors. This is what led me to start up my clinic and this is where I began specializing in scar camouflage and 3D Nipple tattoos."

The clinic is where Sams was inspired to teach after a client approached her at the clinic asking if she taught. Sams said no, but the client persisted—and suddenly Sams was told that 20 people were interested in learning from her. She figured what the hell, jumped into teaching, and she hasn't stopped since! 

"Back when I first started doing these services this was so unheard of and I decided to create my own lane and specialize in an area that I felt was untapped," now, the New York Times is consulting Sams as an expert in paramedical tattooing. From novice to master, Sams is the premier name in paramedical tattooing. The passion for helping people is truly what drives Sams to do her work, "I have seen women who have had facial scars since they were children finally be able to cover these scars and women that have survived breast cancer be able to feel complete again—and it's rewarding for us all."