Eyebrow Tattooing – what the FDA and Doctors have to say

I am actually a fan of permanent make up and have had it done with very pleasing results outside of North America and Europe. In fact, I had my cosmetic tattooing done in Asia where there are fewer regulating bodies for almost everything. However my tattoos aside, if I were asked to recommend facial tattoos to someone else I would have to be very careful because, not only do expectations vary, but the quality of a permanent eyebrow tattoo could affect a woman’s life negatively. So I have done a little research into the subject and here is what I’ve found that isn’t so hot– just to give both sides of the tattoo story.

Inks and pigments are regulated in the US by the FDA in the same manner that food colorants and cosmetics are regulated. Therefore there is a standard when it comes to quality control if you choose to check into what dyes, inks, or pigments are going to be used for your eyebrow tattoo. That is good news if you are concerned about what is being injected into your skin, but there is bad news if you are hoping to find that the FDA also regulates how these pigments or inks are used specifically in the tattoo industry (I’ll explain this more in a moment). And the tattoo business as a whole continues unregulated. The only control is at a local level.

The issue of pigment control and how they are used in the cosmetic tattooing field is one that may take some time to sort out because there are more than 50 pigments and many more diluents, and although the pigments themselves may be FDA approved, they are not actually approved for injecting into the skin. It appears it is one thing to apply a cream with pigment X and quite another to implant pigment X directly into your body. Also the main concern may not be the ink itself but the diluents or additives used with the eyebrow tattooing pigments that would otherwise change the FDA approvability. It has been reported that some tattoo inks are in fact industrial-grade. So check that they are in fact approved for human consumption or for cosmetic use. That much you can do by simply asking your tattoo artist or aesthetician to read the label.

It has been reported that some tattooing centers have not been using the new disposable needles and guns for eyebrow tattoos and therefore use reusable equipment that must be sterilized. If however an eyebrow tattooing clinic is so lax as to not upgrade to the modern technology, it may be safe to assume they are not looking out for the health of their clients and may be negligent about sterilizing their antiquated equipment. Simply put: Do not get any kind of tattoo from a place that does not use disposable needles and modern machines.

A little trivia regarding blood donation and Tattoos

It’s a strange regulation, but it’s not permitted to donate blood immediately following getting a tattoo. In the US, you must not give blood for a year after having been tattooed because of the potential risk of spreading an infectious disease such as hepatitis. Although it seems like a strange measure, there must be some reason for such a drastic rule. It may be to control those who get artistic tattoos in unsanitary tattoo shops, and this may not affect those who go to clinics for cosmetic tattooing, however it’s something to keep in mind when selecting your tattoo shop.

Allergic Reactions to eyebrow tattoos

Since there is no regulation, it is not surprising that there are sometimes allergic reactions to the pigments or to the dilatants that have been used. There have been cases where the allergy to the tattoo is not felt for several years and then suddenly flares up to the surprise of the itchy, swollen tattoo bearer. If the tattoo is on the eyelid or eyebrow, this sudden allergic reaction can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating.

Keloids and Eyebrow Tatto Removal

There are also risks associated with eyebrow tattoo removal, such as keloids, which are scars that form as a result of an injury or trauma to the skin. Since the body views laser tattoo removal or dermabrasion as a trauma it may develop keloids.

A final Unhappy Note about Eyebrow Tattoos

Many doctors report that they often hear how unhappy people are as a result of being unable to remove tattoos. For women with eyebrow tattoos it is worse than for a sailor with the wrong girl’s name on his arm. An eyebrow tattoo is on the face, the first thing you present to others. Altering the eyebrow tattoo that has gone wrong is a difficult and expensive procedure.

Based on what doctors’ report, what patients have to say, and what the FDA facts are regarding the absence of regulations, I must say that caution should be used before any woman gets a hasty permanent eyebrow tattoo.

One Response


Hello Nena – in another page I read of yours, you mentioned not to use an antibiotic gel or cream on your new eyebrow tatoos, but didn’t explain why. I would like to know because I was told to use that!!!! I will stop asap, but would like to know why I should’nt be using an antiobiotic and what I may have done to myself. Thanks so much.

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About the editor

Nena Argent, editorial director of EbT magazine since 2009, oversees online editorial content in English and Spanish. She joined EbT after ten years as an investigative journalist in Asia where she researched oriental health, nutrition and beauty treatments. Now based in Europe, she reports on the latest beauty trends, health issues, high-tech medical advancements and state-of-the-art cosmetic procedures from around the world.

Permanent Makeup / Cosmetic Surgery / Health / Beauty / Nutrition / Weight Loss / Diet Pills / Supplements / Hair Removal / Skin Care / Tattoo Removal / Eyebrow Tattoo / Permanent Eyeliner / Cosmetic Lip Tattoo / Eyelash Extensions / Cellulite Removal / Makeup Tips / Permanent Makeup Directory / Cosmetic Surgery Directory / Hair Restoration Surgeons Directory / Tanning Lotion / Natural Remedies / Low Calorie Foods / Acne Cream / Hair Transplant / Eyebrow Implants / Breast Implants / Liposuction, Liposculpture / Vaser Lipo / Tummy Tuck / Laser Hair Removal / Laser Tattoo Removal / Cosmetic Surgery Prices / Permanent Makeup Schools / Micropigmentation / Permanent Makeup Supplies / Permanent Makeup Equipment / Beauty Product Reviews

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The info in this site doesn't replace consulting with a dermatologist, micropigmentation expert, plastic surgeon or nutritionist prior to undergoing a dietary change or a cosmetic/surgical procedure.