Microblading is a cosmetic procedure where a technician uses a needle to scratch what looks like hairs into someone's eyebrow and then fills in the cuts with pigment.
Across the country, women and men are suffering serious problems including bad scabs and apparent infections from shoddy permanent cosmetic eyebrow work. While microblading is the newest trend in the permanent cosmetics industry, experts say many people still choose permanent tattoos that look like makeup-- with sometimes hard to fix results.
Chicagoan Lisa Darling went to a tattoo parlor for her eyebrow work. Now, she's stuck with a potentially long and costly removal and repair process.
"It was horrible, because it's scary," said Darling. She continued, "They don't look right and by them being on my face, people don't know they're tattoos until they look and say 'your eyebrow's green' and then I can say 'oh, that's green eye makeup' but it's not."
PHOTOS: Permanent makeup problems
The I-Team has found that Illinois officials view these types of permanent cosmetic procedures the same way as normal tattoos -- inspecting shops for cleanliness and certifying technicians for blood borne pathogen awareness. Illinois Department of Public Health officials say they've "written hundreds of warning letters" to unregistered permanent cosmetics establishments and they're "drafting rules to allow for sanctions" for places that operate without state registration.
RESOURCE: IDPH code on Body Art
But, there are no specific regulations regarding microblading and no certification or regulation that ensures technicians actually know what they're doing.
Chicago Registered Nurse Lana Schluter says she has helped hundreds of people with permanent makeup problems. She says the lack of regulations or standards that require specific training can lead to disaster. She says make sure you inspect a technician's previous "after" photos for to make sure the work looks right after it has healed. She says make sure you're using someone with the proper tattoo license to make sure they use the correct equipment and pigments.
"It's very unregulated, they could be very dangerous because you don't really know what's inserted under your skin," says Schluter.
Dr. Murad Alam, Professor and Vice-Chair of Dermatology at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, says people considering permanent cosmetics should make sure their technician has completed a number of successful procedures and is referred by someone trusted who has had a good outcome.
"Bad things can happen," said Dr. Alam. "People are reluctant to talk about something that they find embarrassing so, in general, if we're seeing one person with this complication there are very many others out there who are reluctant to show it to us."
Dr. Alam says while some procedures come out with satisfactory results, he says good research is the key to avoiding a costly mistake. Illinois Department of Public Health officials tell the I-Team they do social media searches to look for establishments that are operating without proper state body art registration. They say they've seen an increase in the past year in salons and other establishments registering with the state to perform microblading or permanent makeup.