Chloe Crawford
Chloe Crawford
May 2, 2024 ·  4 min read

The More You Look, The Less You See: This Burn Survivor Tattooed Her Face so well that You’d Never Know It

When Basma Hameed, 34, was two years old, she suffered a horrifying hot oil accident in her home in Baghdad, Iraq. [1] Her older brother had accidentally tripped over her, causing hot oil to spill on half her face. She sustained painful third degrees burns, hair loss, and a completely chafed eyebrow. 

The doctors were immediately able to salvage her vision despite her age. However, over the next 15 years, Basma had to endure a series of unsuccessful surgeries including skin graphs and laser treatments to clear up the massive scarring. She’d been severely bullied because of the large red scar on her face for most of her teenage years. The doctors hadn’t been able to help, but Basma was unwilling to give up her search for a solution.

After moving to Toronto, Canada, she began a tattoo apprenticeship and eventually experimented with a ground-breaking procedure on her own face. Basma used a pigment that was the same color as her skin to tattoo half her face, successfully covering up her massive scars. Today, the certified micro-pigment implantation specialist runs a clinic that has helped hundreds of people regain their confidence.

Basma’s experiment

When Basma began learning the practice in Toronto, her specialty was permanent makeup tattoo, a cosmetic technique that involves the permanent application of tattoos for microblading, lip blushing, eyelining, and more. 

When she first came up with the idea to tattoo her own face, her doctors were convinced the scar tissue would not hold the ink. Her mentor at work also thought it was a risky idea and refused to help her, but Basma was convinced it would work.

“Everyone was scared to make it worse — for me I had nothing to lose,” she said. [2] “Permanent make up was not new, but instead of using black and brown I thought ‘’why not use skin color pigment.’” 

Basma practiced on herself for two years until she perfected the ink consistency, color tones, and the technique in general. She dissolved some ink in water and tested it out on a small area of her face. The scar tissue held up the ink, to everyone’s surprise, and Basma knew she was finally onto something real.

She enrolled in a two-year medical aesthetics certificate program to extend her knowledge of dermatology, and at the young age of 21, she established the Basma Hameed Clinic.

Basma’s personal tragedy led to the creation of an excellent establishment that has helped thousands of people dealing with low self-esteem from burn scars, surgical scars, large birthmarks, and other injuries.

A life-changing procedure

Basma’s technique is quite similar to regular tattooing, except that she uses minerals instead of ink and tattoos the middle layer of the skin instead of the hypodermis (fatty layer). The melanocytes are destroyed when the skin is damaged and scar tissue would appear white due to a lack of melanin. Basma’s procedures aim to repigment the scarred skin with its natural color.

One of Basma’s many clients is 17-year-old Samira Omar. [3] The young girl had been the victim of a horrifying bullying incident at school where a group of girls poured boiling water on her, terribly scarring her face and hands. Samira was trying to get used to her scars because she thought they would be a part of her forever.

However, fate had something better in store for her. She was taken to Basma’s clinic where the aesthetician placed on her a schedule of procedures for her injuries. When it was all over, there was a shocking decrease in the discoloration of Samira’s skin and her scars seemed to have disappeared.

 Basma’s clinic determines the cost of a client’s bill according to the size of the affected area. Most patients would likely require more than one session for their scars or marks to be completely covered. Basma’s six-session packages usually cost between $2,000 and $4,000, although some patients may require more sessions.

However, for patients who may not be able to afford the costs, Basma has offered 15 free procedures every year since she began her practice. She understands how important her work is and aims to help as many people as she can.

One of Basma’s beneficiaries, 52-year-old Annette White has received the free treatments for three years. Annette has a large port wine birthmark covering one side of her face, affecting her self-esteem for most of her life. She underwent nine sessions with Basma and the difference is remarkably clear.

Without her help, I would still be locking myself away in my house, but with her help I now have the courage to face the world. Now I have something I never had before – hope,” Annette said.

Basma pioneered the scar camouflage technique and it’s now being used by many other tattoo artists. She warns inexperienced tattoo artists who do not understand the intricate craft to desist from attempting it on clients. They might end up worsening the scars and causing them to bleed again. She recommends they test out the technique on a small area before proceeding.


  1. She’s Tattooing Half Her Face, But The Results? Shockingly Beautiful…Little Things. Amber James. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  2. Basma Hameed creates booming business tattooing scars. CBC News. Sophia Harris. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  3. She tattooed half her face and you’d never know it. Her skills are just that good.Upworthy. Franchesca Ramsey. Retrieved August 5, 2020.