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How to Choose a Permanent Makeup Artist

This is it. You’re going to do it. You have swiped through enough Instagram posts to see amazing transformations that are happening in permanent makeup (“PMU”). Brows, lips and liner.  The techniques and pigments are unlike anything the world has ever seen – and you want in!

So how exactly do you FIND and then CHOOSE a permanent makeup artist? Importantly, what are some of the variables that should influence your decision making?

Permanent makeup artists are professionals that can be found working in one of these 3 environments:

1) Salons and Spas: Sometimes easy to find, but the spas promote usually their brand and its sometimes difficult to see what work product individual cosmetic tattoo artists are doing.  Usually the spa has a significant online presence and you can get a sense of their history and quality through their website. Though the artists may also have their own Instagram its not always tied to the salon brand.  

2) Private commercial studios: These are artists who work out of a dedicated commercial space that they may have leased themselves.  

3) In-home or designated residential studios: These are artists who are starting out or pursuing a different career path. They may be preparing to launch their own brand, salon or academy.


If you’re looking for a PMU artist, you have a few different search options:

1) Instagram, Facebook

2) Google

3) Yelp

4) Online beauty directories

Not all PMU artists can be found in the same way. They don’t all have the same areas of expertise or have an online digital presence. Where some have Instagram only, other PMU artists have several forms of social media, a website, and maybe even a Youtube channel!

Once you have narrowed down the list here are some considerations when selecting your PMU artist.


Who regulates microblading / permanent makeup professionals? Is this a medical procedure?

There is no official regulatory body provincially or federally that represents either the public or permanent makeup professionals. Instead there exists a framework of related standards and regulations that are applicable to the delivery of personal services in Personal Service Settings (“PSS”). These standards exist to improve infection prevention and control practices and to minimize the risk of blood-borne/other types of infections during the delivery of personal services. “PSS” refer to settings in which aesthetic services are delivered, such as but not limited to:
     hairdressing and barbershops;
     tattoo and body piercing studios;
     nail salons;
     and various other services.

The city of Ottawa has a mandate to improve infection prevention and control practices in order to minimize the risk of blood-borne/other type of infections. The City maintains an online Personal Service Setting Inspection database of those businesses and their inspection results. Anyone can check to see whether their PMU artist or related business is: 1) listed in the database and 2) whether they are in compliance with Ontario Public Health Standards, 2008 and the Infection Prevention and Control in Personal Services Settings Protocol, 2008.


Noone likes waivers but they are a very necessary part of this process. Feel free to ask for a waiver and after care instructions in advance – so that you know what you’re getting into. Waivers are an excellent resource full of tough questions to help qualify YOU as a client and to establish whether you are in fact a good candidate for permanent makeup. 

Certification and Insurance:
Your permanent makeup artist will ideally hold certifications in several areas, namely in Personal Service Setting Training, and Bloodborne Pathogens Prevention. They will also have been trained and certified through a recognized training academy and be listed within a publicly available registry. They will also hold professional indemnity insurance.

It is important to note that beauty training academies are for-profit private business that do not operate under a government mandate. There are a wide range of curriculums that aim to balance content under the most practical amount of time. A course may last anywhere from a few days up to many months and the content between academies and courses will vary. While we can all agree that the greater number of hours one has in training – the better equipped they are to provide excellent service, however there is no consensus on the minimum number of hours required to prepare a permanent makeup professional.

Microblading and permanent makeup is not recognized as a medical or invasive procedure by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (“CPSO”). Microblading is also not recognized to be cosmetic surgery. If you have questions about what practices are considered invasive or surgical please contact the CPSO.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
Trained, certified, insured, inspected, or not. You should approach any professional service with a high degree of attention and skepticism. There are examples of qualified institutions of practitioners across many fields that find themselves in malpractice or not consistently adopting best practices. It is up to you to qualify and scrutinize those who perform any delicate treatment on your body. Ensure that you ask questions about the cleanliness of the environment. Be sure to monitor instruments and material being used in the procedure. Is it new? If reusable ask how it has been sterilized etc.


Your permanent makeup artist will ideally have a verified Business profile that can be found on Facebook and/or Google Business. This online business profile is where previous clients will have left reviews and rated their service, and where the artist can engage with their clients’ praises and concerns.


Now that you have shortlisted and qualified your permanent makeup artist you’ll want to be sure that their style and approach suits your own ideas and needs. Looking up your artists’ portfolio of work (often on Instagram) will help set your expectations over what the outcome will look like. Browse through your artists previous work to make sure you connect with their style. Is their work / quality of work consistent? Is there a progression and evolution of skill over time? Do they produce the same brow/lip/liner result every time or do they have variety? Is one more important to you over the other?  Take your time and especially look for end-results on those with skin shades and types as your own.

This was too long, I didn’t read it:

Permanent makeup is an exciting way to maintain your favourite look for months and years to come. The practice has been strengthened by amazing technological advancements in the delivery of permanent makeup. Pigments, strategies and tools have made PMU a high-demand first-class personal service. When selecting a permanent makeup artist ensure that you can:

1) Find them on the internet in an established online profile

2) Ensure they’re listed in the Personal Service Setting Inspection database and in a state of compliance

3) Ensure that they have obtained a certification within their area of practice and are in good standing with their academy

4) Insured

5) Find their online reviews in an objectively managed platform like Facebook or Google Business

6) That their style and approach is both clear and within your expectations

About the author:

Ivonne Sanchez is the owner and founder of “Ivonne Sanchez” a Permanent Makeup (and microblading) Clinic in Ottawa’s downtown core. Ivonne has several years experience in modelling, brand advice to major makeup brands and even spent 10 years in corporate law! In 2017 Ivonne left the corporate world and returned to her first love – makeup and beauty. She has been trained by world renowned Phi-Academy based in Europe, completed Red Cross Bloodborne Pathogen Training and Ottawa’s Personal Service Setting training. She is insured and Ottawa Public Health Inspected and has a fast-growing online presence. She continues to expand her training in the area of tattoo removal, and other forms of permanent cosmetics. She is the proud mom of a kindergarten boss girl and when she’s not practicing on latex she can be found picking out the best pair of killer heels.

Learn more about Ivonne’s services and work here: