What You Need to Know Before You Choose a Permanent Makeup Artist
If you’re reading this then you’re probably looking for a permanent makeup artist, and if you’re looking for a permanent makeup artist then you are most likely aware that permanent makeup (PMU) is the hottest thing to reach the makeup scene in hundreds of years. You may have even seen some amazing transformations on Instagram and now you’re ready to find the best resource to help you achieve your dream brows, lips or eyeliner. The techniques of today, the pigments and tools are unlike anything that the world has ever seen – and you want in!
So how do you go about finding and then deciding on a permanent makeup artist? What are some of the things that should influence who you choose to create your permanent makeup look?
Finding a PMU Artist
Permanent makeup artists are trained professionals and they are usually found working in one of these three 3 spaces:
- In-home (usually segregated) residential studios: These are artists who are starting out, or aiming for a non-conventional business track. They may be planning an academy, salon, or another service model. In some instances, the owner may have opted for a more comfortable and familiar setting giving exclusive attention to their client over a storefront that must address walk-ins.
- Spas, salon or commercial business space with a storefront: These types of environments cater to walk-ins and usually have a reception team who can answer questions and or possibly sell retail products. These businesses are usually easy to find, but the businesses promote their brand and not the individual talent of their staff. It is therefore sometimes difficult to establish what kind of work-product can be expected from individual tattoo artists. Though the artists may also have their own Instagram its not always tied to the salon brand
- Private commercial studios: Possibly, this format would be a hybrid or transitional step between the two environments above. These are artists who work out of a dedicated commercial space that they may have leased themselves. Often without reception, but with the added features of exclusive commercial space. i.e. extra parking, centrally located
If you are in search of a PMU artist, you have a few different ways of searching for them:
- Social media like Instagram or Facebook
- Search engines like Google
- Online business directories like Yelp or BeautyMarket.ca
Not all PMU artists can be found and not all of them can be found in the same way. They don’t all have the same areas of expertise or have the same depth and expansive online digital presence. Where some artist may only have Instagram, other PMU artists have several forms of social media, a website, and maybe even a Youtube channel!
Once you have shortlisted potential PMU artists here are some things to consider when making your final selection:
There is no official body that regulates permanent makeup professionals. In some industries, there are provincial or federal bodies with a government-backed mandate that represent either the public or permanent makeup professionals. However, there is a framework of related standards and regulations applicable to the delivery of personal services in Personal Service Settings (PSS). These standards exist to improve infection prevention and control practices and to minimize the risk of blood-borne/other types of infections during the delivery of personal services. PSS refer to settings in which aesthetic services are delivered, such as but not limited to:
- hairdressing and barbershops;
- tattoo and body piercing studios;
- nail salons;
- and various other services.
The city of Ottawa has a mandate to improve infection prevention and control practices to minimize the risk of infection. The City maintains an online Personal Service Setting Inspection database of businesses and their inspection results. Anyone can check to see whether their PMU artist or related business is listed and whether they’re compliant with Ontario Public Health Standards, 2008 and the Infection Prevention and Control in Personal Services Settings Protocol, 2008.
Waivers are not always enjoyable but they are a very necessary part of this process. They are an educational resource that often includes both before and aftercare instructions. So do request a copy of this in advance so that you know what exactly you are getting into. Waivers do two things. They protect the business from liability and they protect clients from themselves. Waivers are an excellent resource full of tough questions to help qualify YOU as a client and to establish whether you are in fact a good candidate for permanent makeup.
They may even be the first “sanity check” to ensure that the decision you’re about to make is based on facts and information, not just beautiful photos. The method of waiver delivery is also an important detail. If your professional is collecting waiver information in electronic form, it means that they likely have very good business intelligence processes that aim to better the client experience.
Certification and Insurance
Your permanent makeup artist should hold certifications in several areas, namely in Personal Service Setting Training, and Bloodborne Pathogens Prevention. This ensures that they have received a set amount of training over the area in which they practice. They will also have been trained and certified through a recognized training beauty academy and be listed within a publicly available registry. They will also hold professional indemnity insurance.
It is important to recognize that beauty training academies are for-profit private businesses that don’t operate under a government mandate. Like all for-profit education institutions, their curriculum is delivered in a way that balances information against time. A course may last anywhere from a few days up to several months and the content between academies and courses will vary. Academies, unlike government-funded education institutions, are neither obligated nor incentivized to collaborate on course content amongst each other. This means that every academy has a different approach and different course content. While we can all agree that the greater number of hours one has in training, the better-equipped they are to provide excellent service; however, there is no consensus on the minimum number of hours required to prepare a permanent makeup professional.
Microblading and permanent makeup are not recognized as medical or invasive procedures by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). Microblading is also not recognized to be cosmetic surgery. If you have questions about what practices are considered invasive or surgical please contact the CPSO.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
Whether a professional is trained, certified, insured, inspected, or not, you should always approach any professional service with a high degree of attention and skepticism. There are examples of credentialed practitioners across many fields that find themselves in a state of malpractice or not consistently adopting best practices. It is up to you to qualify and validate those who perform any delicate treatment on your body. Do ensure that you ask questions about the cleanliness of the environment. Ask about their sanitization processes. How they source their supplies and clean their equipment. e.g. If they are using an autoclave have they submitted their monthly reports to the local Public Health Office?
Your permanent makeup artist should have a verified online business profile that can be found on Facebook and Google Business. This online business profile is where previous clients will have submitted reviews and rated their service. Importantly, this is where the artist can engage with their clients’ praises and concerns.
Now that you have shortlisted and qualified your permanent makeup artist you’ll want to be sure that their style and approach suits your own ideas and needs. Look up your artists’ portfolio of work (often on Instagram), swipe through their photos as this will help set your expectations over what the outcome will look like. Make sure that the artist’s previous work connects with your sense of style and your goals. Is their work and quality of work consistent? Is there a progression and evolution of their skill over time? Do they produce the same brows, lips or liner results every time or do they have variety? Is it important to you that they demonstrate variety in styles, or do you prefer that they can consistently produce the same type of work over and over again?
Take your time and especially look for end-results on those with skin shades and types as your own. If the artist is publishing before or after photos that have been filtered or touched-up be sure to ask for examples of raw original pictures. It is critically important that your decision is based on realistic results and that you are not making choices about your body that is being impacted by photoshopped pictures.
Permanent makeup is truly an exciting way to maintain your favourite look for months and years to come. The practice has been strengthened by amazing technological advancements in the delivery of permanent makeup. Pigments, strategies, and tools have made PMU a high-demand first-class personal service. When selecting a permanent makeup artist, ensure that you can:
- Find them on the internet in an established online profile;
- Ensure they’re listed in the Personal Service Setting Inspection database and in a state of compliance;
- Ensure that they have obtained a certification within their area of practice and are in good standing with their academy;
- Check that they’re insured;
- Find their online reviews in an objectively managed platform like Facebook or Google Business; and
- Determine if their style and approach are both clear and within your expectations.
About the Author:
Ivonne Sanchez is the owner and founder of “Faces By Ivonne,” a Permanent Makeup (and microblading) Clinic in Ottawa’s downtown core. Ivonne has several years’ experience in modeling, brand advice to major makeup brands, and even spent 10 years in corporate law! In 2017 Ivonne left the corporate world and returned to her first love – makeup and beauty. She has been trained by world-renowned Phi-Academy based in Europe, completed Red Cross Bloodborne Pathogen Training and Ottawa’s Personal Service Setting training. Ivonne is insured and Ottawa Public Health Inspected and has a fast-growing online presence. She continues to expand her training in the area of tattoo removal, and other forms of permanent cosmetics. She is the proud mom of a kindergarten boss girl and when she’s not practicing on latex she can be found picking out the best pair of killer heels.