When Jami Ledbettter went in for a microblading procedure last November, she was hoping to fill out her sparse eyebrows. After all, thetrendy beauty procedure uses a tattoo technique to give you magazine-cover-worthy brows.
But when she took a look at her face afterwards, the Missouri resident immediately regretted her decision.
Microblading is supposed to leave your brows looking lush and natural, but in Ledbetter’s case, it just made her look like she had several eyebrows stacked on top of one another.
So, how did this beauty disaster happen? Well, it all started when the 42-year-old received a $250 Groupon for microblading from her daughters with a woman claiming she was certified in the procedure.
As it turns out, microblading isn’t regulated in Missouri, meaning it’s easier than you might think to practice the procedure without the proper credentials.
After walking away from her botched procedure, Ledbetter's confidence was understandably shot, but the mother of three soon came across Kara Gutierrez, a licensed and insured tattoo artist who specializes in permanent cosmetics and tattoo removal and owns Spot On Beauty. Gutierrez told TODAY Style she knew what to expect when Ledbetter came in for her first removal session but still felt heartbroken on her client’s behalf.
“I was aware of how they looked (because of a photo she sent along before we met) so I tried to look at her and not the bad brows. But I wanted to cry because I couldn’t imagine being in her position and, mainly, because nobody would be held accountable. Microblading is not regulated in our state and quite frankly I was angry at our Missouri legislators for not seeing this as something to regulate," Gutierrez said.
The tattoo artist has performed two removal sessions on Ledbetter since February using a saline-based, non-acid solution called Li-FT by Li Pigments. The pigment-lightening product helps draw out pigment in conjunction with her tattoo machine to lighten and remove the botched tattoo.
The process is admittedly painful and each session can take about 45 minutes to an hour, but Gutierrez is happy to report that her client’s left eyebrow is almost gone, with no damage to the skin. Since Ledbetter's case was so extreme, Gutierrez said it will take a few more sessions to fully fix her botched brows.
In the meantime, she hopes Ledbetter’s experience serves as a lesson to others to do their research before seeking out certain beauty procedures.
“This is a permanent tattoo on your face and can heal incredibly well when the right professional artist is chosen. You’ll know they’re the real deal because there is usually a wait to get in with them,” she said. “Look for the artist’s tattoo license with the tattooing board for your state (if it’s regulated), check out their work on a website or social media, read reviews, meet in person or talk to the artist over the phone to ask them questions.”
After hearing about Ledbetter’s story from a friend, Missouri State Representative Nate Tate was inspired to act.
“I have a very dear friend, Amber Weber from Union, Missouri, who brought this to my attention. She is a professional microblader who has her certificate and tattooist license and made me aware of many types of issues and concerns like Jami’s,” he told TODAY Style.
So Tate decided to sponsor House Bill 71, which changes the definition of tattoo to help ensure that procedures such as microblading are performed safely.
“The bill essentially says you must have a tattooist license in addition to the microblading certificate. The certificate just does not entail enough training and making a tattooist license a requirement in addition to the certificate will help ensure the safety of the public,” Tate said.
Some of the educational requirements for getting the tattooist license are:
- Successful completion of a bloodborne pathogen training program
- Successful completion of a CPR class
- Successful completion of 300 apprenticeship hours or 300 training hours from a licensed or accredited school.
Tate hopes to get a hearing this year to flesh out the bill before he officially files it next year. In the meantime, he hopes that consumers proceed with caution before considering microblading.
"Any time the skin is being punctured, more training should be required than what the certificate offers. The safety of the public is of utmost importance with this bill," he said.