Feel free to read my original post on BUZZFEED too!
Eyebrow Microblading has become quite the buzzword in the beauty world over the past few years and with the increased interest, permanent makeup is also back on the radar for lips, eyeliner and that famous Kardashian ombre brow. Permanent makeup can take years off your face, help you do makeup with ease or not need to 'do' any makeup at all, it can be really amazing for some people! But what happens when an industry gets flooded with un or under trained technicians? The result can be very scary! Here's a handy guide to help you choose an artist who knows their stuff! And some tips for what to expect when you decide this is something you want to do!
#1 - Be a SMART Consumer
As a consumer you need to be aware and thoroughly research who you are going to to get your brows microbladed by or any other permanent makeup procedure. Every week we get requests to fix work done by 'someone cheaper' or 'someone closer' and this can be anywhere from just not-so-great to truly awful.
As this industry is rapidly growing, there are many people out there becoming 'certified' with grossly under-qualified courses (we're talking a FIVE HOUR class or an ONLINE class) - and this is not only a danger to your face but a danger to your health.
Permanent Makeup is regulated by the city or county health department (generally) and depending on where you live this could be anywhere from strict regulations or even tattooing being illegal - to absolutely NO regulations at all. Because of this disparity of regulation, it's really up to YOU to be your own advocate when it come to choosing a good artist.
There is no data bank of PMU artists to vet your choices with, so it's important to actually talk to your artist before making an appointment to make sure they're a quality artist and properly trained. You can access the SPCP web portal for members in your area - this is a great place to start as to qualify to be a member you must have completed a 100 hour basic training course, however membership is voluntary and not everyone who IS qualified is a member.
#2 - Good Tattoos Aren't Cheap & Cheap Tattoos Aren't Good!
This is a procedure where you literally get what you pay for, and it is NOT something you want to take a gamble on or price shop with - it will cost you far more to fix a bad tattoo than it does to get a good tattoo in the first place. Prices vary across the country depending on where you live, so look around to compare. If someone is charging a LOT less than the average, or running a deal - chances are they are very new - and this is not a bad thing, everyone has to start somewhere - but it IS something you need to be aware of and take into consideration. Call them - ask them how long they've been doing this? when and where did they do their training? how LONG was their training? And ALWAYS ask and look for photos. ALWAYS. If you fail to look at photos of someone's work before you go to get tattooed eyebrows and you wind up with gnarly looking eyebrows, some of that fault lies on you just as much as the artist. I wouldn't let someone tattoo a giant dragon on my entire back without looking at their artwork first... Why would you let someone tattoo your FACE without looking at photos first?
#3 - This is PERMANENT.
*The photo above is a great example of terrible work - two eyebrows and eyeliner migration. The 2 brows could be removed with laser or saline, but eyeliner migration is NOT removable and permanent.
When you get permanent makeup you are literally getting a tattoo on your face. This tattoo is PERMANENT. You may have seen such and such salon who told you it was 'semi-permanent' ... but this is simply false. This tattoo is permanent, and it will fade over time, but it is extremely unlikely that it will ever fade away completely - 10 years from now you will still have some remnants of this tattoo and likely 20 years from now as well. Permanent makeup that's done poorly by an untrained technician may not even be removable with laser or saline removal! This is NOT a decision to take lightly, to make on a whim, or to choose to do because all your friends did it. Think about it, thoroughly, research your artist, and be prepared to say NO or even forfeit your deposit if you're not feeling it when it comes down to it. A $100 loss is NOTHING compared to a lifetime of botched permanent makeup.
#4 - Look and ASK for Photos
*The image above shows one brow posted by an artist one day and the bottom brow posted by the 'same' artist 5 days later, claiming to have done both brows. This is NOT the same person's work and is a great example of someone using someone else's work to advertise as their own.*
Look for and ask for photos before you even THINK about putting down a deposit.
If someone only posts photos from far away and never up close, or takes blurry or over edited photos that's a 'yellow flag.' If someone is a truly good artist, they can create beautiful brows AND the photos to prove it, the quality and transparency (i.e. not over filtering and showing clear photos) of the photos says a lot about the artist.
If you literally cannot find or they won't provide photos to you - RUN AWAY. And use your discernment when viewing photos - people posting OTHER people's work and claiming it as their own happens more than you'd like to think. If an artist's feed of photos doesn't seem cohesive and wavers in quality it's a sign they may not be using their own images.
#5 - Look and Ask for HEALED Photos.
*Photo above is healed microblading at 6 weeks, before the touch up. Most of the strokes are healed very nicely and a lovely color, there's a few areas where we can see the touch up is needed*
Healed photos are just as, if not more important than all of the directly after procedure photos you will find. Permanent makeup looks great directly after the procedure, but a LOT can happen and change during the healing process, and you have to live with the healed result, so ask to see it!
Things to look for in healed photos:
Color tone - do they look natural? or do they look a bit off? It's very easy for PMU, especially microblading, to heal to a wonky color, and a talented artist can prevent this from happening from the get go. If healed brows look purple, blue, grey or ashy that's not a great sign.
Color retention - Many of the healed photos you will find are after the first session but before the touchup, so don't be alarmed if they don't look PERFECT, but they should look desirable. The artist will probably tell you that it's before the touchup, or the amount of time it's been healed. A more seasoned artist will also have healed photos after longer periods of time.
#6 - Ask About Training!
Daria Chuprys Permanent Makeup Academy, Beverly Hills CA
If the artist you're looking at seeing has passed the photo test, then it's time to ask some more questions - first and foremost - were they trained? who with? and how long was the training?
The industry standard for a solid foundation in PMU or Microblading is a 100 Hour Course with hands on experience working on models. A course could be focused on one treatment or cover many, but the 100 hours is standard, and required for membership to the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals and to get an insurance policy from any reputable carrier.
Ask your potential artist about their training, and look into their trainer as well! If the training / trainer doesn't check out, be cautious.
There are many long time PMU veterans who had little to no training at the start of their careers, because it simply was not available. Sometimes 20 years of experience counts a lot more than 100 hours of training, however, it's not a reason to not look at their work or ask about any continuing education courses they've taken.
#7 - You Will Need a Touchup.
Permanent Makeup is a TWO Part Procedure.
You WILL need a touchup, so budget for it (if it isn't included) and if you're traveling to get your brows done, or an artist is traveling to you, take this into consideration.
It is very rare that an artist will touch up another artist's work - so if you get your brows done on a whim while visiting a friend in Canada, you're likely going to have to go back to Canada to get that touch up, or pay someone their new client rate to touch them up at home.
If an artist tells you a touch up is 'if you want one' or 'not necessary' this is another 'yellow flag.' Sending our clients out into the World, we want them to be wearing our very best work - and this happens with a touchup, and it's why many artists include this touchup with the initial procedure cost. It's not always possible to gauge how someone's treatment will heal - and that touch up ensures us we will have a chance to make corrections or just boost it up to the best work we can do. An artist who cares about their work and cares about you having the best brows you can get is someone you want doing your brows.
#8 - Be Patient & Wait for the Artist you WANT.
*Example of SEVERE scarring cause by an untrained person who attempted to do microblading, likely not even using a correct tool. This scarring is irreversible and permanent.*
Permanent Makeup is NEVER an Emergency.
Have patience when deciding to book these procedures, the consequences of choosing someone untrained or untalented can be DISASTROUS.
Taking the time to wait for the right artist, will ultimately save you time AND money in the long run. Fixing botched permanent makeup is difficult, costly, and time consuming. It can take more than a year to fix some PMU disasters, and some cannot by fixed at ALL.
Wait for the right artist. Spend the money on the right artist. It's 100% worth it, and you'll be happy you did.
#9 - Take Healing Time into Consideration when Booking.
*A brow healing from infection. Infections can be caused by untrained technicians doing PMU in an unsanitary environment (like someone's home), or by failure of the client to follow aftercare - swimming after a tattoo is great way to get your tattoo infected.*
It can be a bit comical when potential clients call wanting permanent makeup TODAY as if the World may end if they can't do it immediately only to find out that going to Cabo for beach, sun and swimming 3 days after having Permanent Makeup done is a big NO. Some artists even have policies against same or next day appointments because there are some important before-care regimens that need to be followed.
Healing time for permanent makeup can vary a bit, but in general expect up to 2 weeks of active healing time - this means open wounds and scabbing will be present and you will NOT be allowed to go swimming, among other activities. Failure to follow aftercare can not only result in your new brows healing poorly but it also puts you at risk for INFECTIONS.
We know you want your new brows before that trip to Miami, but doing them 3 days before puts you at a major risk for infection or ruining your tattoo, not to mention you will look a little funky while they're peeling.
A good rule of thumb is - have your first session at least 10 weeks before any big event or trip. This gives you time to heal from the first session, do your touch up and heal from that. If 10 weeks isn't feasible and you're ok with completing your touch up after your trip, do your first session ideally at least 4 weeks before, and if you're REALLY in a pinch at bare minimum 2 weeks before.
#10 - With the Right Artist, Permanent Makeup Can Be Absolutely Gorgeous!
Having patience, vetting your artist, and saving up to spend a little bit more than you'd hoped is all worth it in the end when you've chosen your perfect artist. New brows, liner or lips can really enhance your natural features and save you on day to day makeup troubles, and it's absolutely WONDERFUL when it's done well.
Take your time and find the right artist.
It's worth it.
Kim Peirano, LAc is the Owner, Acupuncturist & Artist behind San Francisco's #1 Cosmetic Acupuncture and Microblading Salon - Lion's Heart.