By Patrick O’Brien, JD, legal coordinator for the American Med Spa Association
“Hideous” and “crazy” are not terms you ever want associated with your business, so this news article warning of the dangers of microblading performed by unskilled businesses in Missouri is particularly alarming. The poor woman in the article received terribly applied eyebrows that led her to hide her face and spend thousands of dollars to have them corrected. We have previously covered how botched procedures can have a wide impact on the regulation and oversight of industry, and this situation is no different. We’ve seen it in Texas, New York and Florida—bad publicity draws the attention of legislators.
Most states treat microblading as a branch of tattooing and require practitioners to hold either a tattooing license or a more specialized permanent cosmetic license. And generally, these procedures must be done in licensed tattoo parlors. Missouri is unusual in that its Office of Tattooing, Body Piercing & Branding does not consider microblading to fall within the statutory definition of tattooing. Missouri’s definition of tattooing mentions an “indelible mark” that is placed under the skin; because of the depth of typical microblading procedures, they are only considered “semi-permanent.” As a result, microblading in Missouri is largely unregulated. A person does not need to undergo any training or certification before offering the service to the public. And as in the case of the woman in the news article, this can lead to some terrible results that leave lasting damage and cost thousands to correct.
Missouri House of Representatives member Nate Tate has introduced legislation to close this gap. House Bill 71 (HB 71)—which you can read in full here—would simply amend the definition of tattooing to include permanent and semi-permanent pigment being placed for cosmetic purposes in addition to creating designs, as in traditional tattooing. It is unclear if HB 71 has the momentum to pass this year—after being introduced at the beginning of the legislative session, it was referred to the Committee on Registration and Professional Licensing last week. Regardless of whether or not HB 71 ends up passing, all practitioners will want to make sure they are trained and skilled in any procedures they offer.