PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Board of Health is revisiting its body art regulations as the trend of microblading has recently arrived in the city.
Health Director Gina Armstrong said the department recently received two inquiries from people looking to open a microblading practice. Armstrong said the practice is covered by the tattoo regulations but that there is room in the regulations for further definitions and a requirement of experience.
"What we need to look at is establishing a minimum experience for someone to operate solely," Armstrong said.
The technique is similar to tattooing in the most basic way. The practitioner uses needles to puncture the skin and insert ink. But microblading, or micro-pigmentation, doesn't use a tattoo gun and is more of a beauty service and less permanent.
"Microblading is another name for permanent makeup. It is a form of tattooing but it is slightly different. Microblading is growing in popularity, it is a trending beauty service," Armstrong said.
It is used often for such things as eyebrows and eyeliner. Armstrong said the procedure can last between several months to three years. She said the practice does fall under the language in the current tattoo regulation but those rules were written and geared toward tattooing and aren't very clear on similar forms like microblading.
"We haven't permitted any practitioners doing permanent makeup, or microblading, because it is a trending practice and now we are aware of two practitioners here in Pittsfield and we had two inquiries from people graduating from a certification program who are looking to offer that practice here," Armstrong said.
Armstrong told of one inquiry from a person who had just completed a one-week certification program and had performed the procedure on only three individuals. Armstrong is particularly looking to set regulations with experience requirements. She said Boston requires an individual to apprentice for 200 hours, with a minimum of 30 hours of observation, and to perform 50 procedures before being allowed to practice solo.
Laurie Ke owns Advanced Image Artistry on North Street. She opened the shop nearly 20 years ago at the time when the city didn't have any regulations whatsoever and so was never required to get a permit. Being in the industry, she, too, noticed an increase of practitioners with little experience opening shop and had voiced those concerns a few years ago.
"I also came to the Board of Health about two years ago about people going to a two-day class and putting needles in somebody's face without being a registered nurse and not having the background," Ke said.
Ke boasts of not only years of experience in the industry but also being a registered nurse and having shops in California and Florida. That background in nursing raises concerns about what could happen to a client if the work isn't done properly.
"It is opening the face and it can cause serious injury, especially if somebody is doing something around the cornea. There could be some serious consequences if somebody isn't skilled in this area," she said.
Ke attended the Board of Health meeting Thursday night to defend herself after receiving a call earlier that morning from the Health Department telling her she was operating without a permit. But she quickly ended up being a helpful guide for the Board of Health members who knew little about the practice.
For about a half hour, Ke discussed the ins and out of microblading and suggested using language such as permanent cosmetics to cover the evolving language around the industry to help the board eventually craft a regulation that will cover all forms so that this situation is less likely to arise in the future.
"She was interested in learning more about our regulations and what we are looking to do and even the possibility of offering apprenticeship if we have a situations where we have somebody newly certified but not the practical experience," Armstrong said of her conversation with Ke earlier in the day.
The Board of Health wasn't ready to write a regulation on Thursday but asked Ke to return to the next meeting to help answer questions.
"I think it would be really helpful to have legitimate definitions in these regulations and to be as inclusive as possible with all of the different procedures that would be under this umbrella of permanent cosmetics," said Board of Health member Alan Kulberg. "It would be nice to have our regulations encompass it already and allow for the introduction of new techniques."
Armstrong handed Ke an application for a permit, which she called a formality in Ke's case.
"In Laurie's case, I think getting the permit is more of a formality because of her years of experience. We talked about her credentials today. It is the newer practitioners that our regulations really don't speak to and that's where we need to strengthen and specify our regulations," she said.
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Gotta Dance, Gotta Sing: There's Both This Week on Local Stages
By Grace LichtensteinGuest Column
Downtown Pittsfield Third Thursdays — TL Collective
Each third Thursday of the month, streets are closed in downtown Pittsfield and all kinds of music rocks the city. Featured June 20 at 6 p.m. in the Dance Zone at the north end of the street festival is TL Collective, the athletic, family-friendly contemporary and hip-hop moves of Micaela Taylor's company. The group performs an evening length work "Drift." The aim, according to organizers, is to "demonstrate an individual's ever-changing relationship to self while exposing a personal season of self-growth."
You can find the dance zone near the corner of Bradford and North Streets in front of St. Joseph’s Church. This program is a presentation of the Berkshires stalwart Jacob's Pillow.
Ballet BC is coming to Jacob's Pillow this week.
At the Pillow's expansive home in Becket, the featured company in the Ted Shawn Theater this week is Ballet BC, which is celebrating 10 years under the innovative leadership of artistic director and former company member Emily Molnar.
"Truly contemporary" is how one reviewer described the Vancouver-based troupe. On the bill this week is Molnar's most recent work "To this day," along with the U.S. premiere of "Bedroom Folk." The latter work originated with the Nederlands Dans Theater and was created by Israeli collaborators Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, among others.
This program runs Wednesday, June 19, through Sunday, June 23, at 8 p.m., with matinees on Saturday and Sunday in addition to evenings.
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