How you can protect yourself against potentially dangerous eyebrow tattoos

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THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - A growing cosmetic trend that carries serious risks is being offered by people working out of their homes in uninspected facilities and practices has prompted a safety warning from Interior Health Authority.

Microblading, also known as eyebrow embroidery, microstroking and feather touch, is essentially a type of facial tattoo, says Courtney Hesketh, the authority’s manager of environmental health. It’s a trend in Europe that is commonly seen in the Vancouver area. Hesketh says the trend is growing in the interior, and brings with it blood-related health concerns.

“We had noticed that there’s a lot more people advertising microblading on places like Facebook,” she says. “Health inspectors... were noticing the same thing.”

Microblading is essentially a specialized type of tattoo on a person's face, with ink deposited below the skin to look like eyebrows. This brings with it the potential for infections and blood-born pathogens like HIV and Hep C.

Hesketh says they haven’t seen a rise in these types of issues and that the warning is due to more businesses appearing to offer services and the time of the year. With the trend growing at a time of gift-giving and holiday parties, there’s concern the health authority will see a spike now, with many people not understanding the risks they’re taking.

“We thought lets get ahead of the game a little bit,” she says. “So people are not buying something that could potentially be unsafe.”

The concern stems from the fact many people offering microblading may not have training in infection control.

Part of the reason she says the targets are at-home studios is because the health authority and most city bylaw and business licence offices in the region have a good relationship, with municipal governments referring new business owners to health authority for proper inspections. With at-home businesses, owners may not be registering their business and just advertising the service on Facebook.

While Hesketh says businesses could face repercussions from the health authority or a civil suit, she’d prefer to work with business owners to make sure they are offering safe services.

“We’re one of the rare free services that will help with business,” she says. “They don’t have to pay a permit fee to get approved.”

A list of inspected businesses can be found on the authority's website under the 'Blood and Body Fluids' category. They also have a list of questions to ask a business before using a service here.

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