By Debbie Miller, CPCP
Newport Permanent Makeup
There is an extremely alarming trend circulating in the beauty and aesthetics world these days. Estheticians, other beauty professionals and those coming from an unrelated industry, that do not have traditional permanent makeup training or a tattooing background are not qualified to perform the microblading method of eyebrow tattooing. Due to the popularity of creating realism in tattooing, specifically in eyebrow tattooing, there are unethical people doing what others have done since the beginning of time: taking advantage of the opportunity for financial and personal gain by exploiting a demanding trend. This exploitation has been evident in the past with the more traditional methods of eyebrow tattooing as well. For those exposed to permanent makeup eyebrows, most have seen examples of poorly placed, improperly colored eyebrows.
Since the 1990’s, people have attempted to skirt around proper training and capitalize on the consumer’s desire for eyebrow enhancements via various forms of color implantation. By now, most of us have seen “bad” eyebrow tattooing and for hundreds of properly trained and credentialed practitioners this has created a large supply of corrective procedures including color corrections and removal of undesirable eyebrows. In many cases, correction can be extensive, expensive for the consumer and has led to issues with permanent scarring, and even attempts to cover these brows with flesh colored pigments that make matters worse.
The newest desire to create more natural looking permanent eyebrows using tiny, thin hair-like strokes is yet again creating a demand that is attracting poorly trained, inexperienced people claiming to be “Microblading Experts” that are advertising these services to the unsuspecting consumer.
As a Certified Permanent Makeup Artist, medical tattoo artist,Licensed Cosmetologist, Esthetician and traditional makeup artist, I have worked in the beauty industry for over 30 years. I have specifically devoted the last 19 + years to permanent cosmetics. Having become a teacher, lecturer and author on the subject I have become dedicated to preserving and protecting this highly valuable industry through sharing proper, honest, factual information.
So many people, both women and men, benefit from permanent cosmetics. From active lifestyles to medical conditions such as alopecia and post-chemotherapy, receiving permanent eyebrows is a major game-changer for these folks. Over the course of time, the demand for more natural looking eyebrows that did not look as if they were applied with a Sharpie Marker became evident in the tattoo and permanent makeup world. As demand changes, so will supply. Someone needed to step up and really find a way to do beautiful hairstroke eyebrows. For a few years we were attempting these “hairstrokes” with the needles available to the average permanent makeup machine set-up, and the end result, though often better than an overly-solid looking eyebrow, still lacked some finesse. Soon tattoo artists and permanent makeup artists began using single needles and started seeing changes in needle groupings combined with a more artistic aesthetic to the shape and style of eyebrows. There began to be competition in the industry to provide the consumer with a more and more natural looking eyebrow.
The true definition of a tattoo: implanting ink or pigment into the dermal layer of the skin. Tattooing has been present in human societies for thousands of years. The history of tattooing is fascinating and goes back to ancient Asian and middle eastern cultures. Tribal tattooing is well documented in history. Before electricity, the only way to create a tattoo was puncture the skin with a sharp implement, then deposit color from ashes, coal, roots, berries, flowers and other color-producing substances into the skin. Obviously there were creative methods employed to make that happen: bamboo, sharp whittled stones, bones sharpened to fine points, eventually metal needles and pins; where there is a will there will be a way!
The tradition of marking the body symbolically and for vanity goes way back. We are just now in a modern era that allows us, via technology and research, to make the job easier, safer and more predictable in outcome.
The microblading of eyebrows is a major trend right now. It is not for everyone. There are skin types and aesthetic preferences that do not make natural micro-stroke eyebrows the correct choice for all permanent eyebrow procedures. However, compared to overly-dark, stylized unnatural looking eyebrows, the idea of having brows that look more like hair than makeup is highly appealing to a large majority of people seeking to enhance or replace their substandard natural eyebrows.
Thanks to social media and the Internet, beautiful examples abound of these fine, hair-like marks being tattooed into the brow area and the consumer that has done some research and comparison, is really looking for an artist that can deliver. Naturally, there is money to be made when consumer demand is high. Therefore, we are seeing the next wave of this trend for great brows: selling the “training” and the products needed to perform the services these consumers are demanding. It is necessary for the consumer do do their due diligence and research the best choice in a practitioner. Is the person licensed per their local regulations? Hold certificates of training from a legitimate educational academy? Have a wide variety of before and after photos of their own work? Referrals and a broad range of good reviews on social media? Are they insured with a professional liability policy specifically in their area of practice? Is the facility licensed and insured? Is the facility clean and sanitary with a professional atmosphere?
The biggest problem with the microblading, as I see it, is that due to the confusion about it actually being a form of tattooing, this specific subset of eyebrow tattooing has not made the regulation radar yet. Therefore, it is a hotbed of problems. This is changing, but slowly. Many states are now regulating microblading the same way they do other forms of cosmetic tattooing and body art. Some states are even making it a “medical” practice and limiting the practice to medical facilities. Some states have yet to have any regulations at all. The news is full of stories of botched and damaging results by practitioners working on clients with little to no experience. A recent news story cited a disaster by someone who did online training with no formal classroom or hands-on experience under a trained instructor before working on the unsuspecting public.
To conclude, you can have better brows through the modality of microblading, if you are a good candidate and after assessment by a properly trained and experienced cosmetic tattoo artist. There are also many other modalities that can give gorgeous results that are more suitable for certain skin types and desired outcome. It simply takes choosing the properly trained and experienced artist that you can trust will deliver optimal results.