Should eyebrow tattooing be allowed in Naperville?
Exactly what is a practice called microblading and whether it constitutes body art are questions the city of Naperville soon will be researching at the request of a technician who wants to open a business in town.
Amanda Tracey of Naperville is a 3-D eyebrow and microblading technician who says Naperville's tight regulations on tattoo establishments shouldn't apply to the shop she wants to open.
Microblading, according to Tracey and others who offer the service in the suburbs, is a form of tattooing that uses pigment to manually draw lines that look like eyebrow hairs. It is not body art, they say, but a technique intended to create the appearance of natural eyebrows, often for clients who have lost their hair because of chemotherapy or a condition called alopecia areata.
"We're actually drawing in each little hair one-by-one," said Kimberly Morgan, a certified permanent cosmetic professional at the Advanced Permanent Cosmetic Academy in Warrenville. "You have perfect eyebrows all the time and it's very natural and realistic."
Tracey said she recently got certified at the academy and now wants to open a business in her hometown. But Naperville's code says in order to give a tattoo, a person must be a physician or doctor of osteopathy -- a regulation so strict there are no businesses that offer tattooing in the city.
Tracey is asking that regulation be lifted for microblading in favor of rules that require certification by the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, a license from the Illinois Department of Public Health and liability insurance.
Microblading is a relatively new procedure in the suburbs, but Havy Tran of Chicago Microblading in Schaumburg has been offering it for a year. After getting trained in Europe, Tran said she got a business license from the village and opened the shop where she already has treated more than 100 clients.
Other microblading studios include The Browtique in Orland Park, Brows By Lucy in Berwyn and Enfuse Medical Spa and Hair Restoration in Chicago.
Technicians say a microblading procedure takes about two hours using disposable hand tools to ensure sanitation and numbing creams to decrease pain.
Tracey said the business she dreams of opening would look more like a salon or spa than a tattoo parlor, and she would prioritize health and safety.
"I don't really believe it should be looked at the same as body tattooing because microblading is not the same as doing a tattoo on the body using a machine," Morgan said.
Microblading is new to officials in Naperville, who asked Tracey several questions about what she does and how it's defined when she pitched for looser rules during a city council meeting. But the council asked staff members to research microblading and see if there is a way to amend the city's tattoo and body piercing regulations to allow the procedure to take place.
"From what I've heard," council member Paul Hinterlong said, "it sounds like a nice service to those in need."
Naperville's tattooing and body piercing regulations last were updated in 2014 at the request of Claire's jewelry and accessories to allow ear piercing by people who aren't doctors and without a doctor present.