A few weeks ago, a friend mentioned that her sister had just gotten her eyebrows permanently tattooed on her face. As surprised as I was, dermapigmentation actually made sense for the fair-haired sister; she really had no noticeable eyebrows before the procedure and was forced to draw them on each morning before starting her day. In fact, I can think of a lot of people who would benefit from permanent makeup: anyone with very light eyebrows, people who rely on makeup each day but don’t have the time for it, women who can’t draw a straight line with eyeliner to save their lives (me, for example) and really anyone who likes the convenience of never having to wake up bare-faced again.

The more I read about cosmetic tattooing, the more I liked it. Many people use permanent makeup as a solution to scars and conditions that cause skin imperfections, such as vitiligo. If performed correctly by a licensed esthetician, the tattooing shouldn’t even hurt, as the area is numbed sufficiently. And though the permanent makeup costs upwards of hundreds of dollars (depending on factors like how many areas you want tattooed), it is a permanent fix and, therefore, a good investment for many.

Still, there is a laundry list of things to consider before running out and getting injected with ink. First and foremost, this is a tattoo we’re talking about, even if it is related to makeup. All of the usual tattoo precautions need to be taken, including making sure that proper equipment is used to avoid the spread of disease. Most important, perhaps, is to make sure that you really want to have your eyebrows shaped a certain way forever or that you want eyeliner on everyday for the foreseeable future.

The FDA does not exercise its power over tattoo inks, meaning that it’s up to you to be vigilant about what exactly is being injected into your skin. In fact, many pigments aren’t suitable for skin at all and are actually intended for car paint and printer ink – though they are often misused. There have been over 150 reports of adverse reactions to permanent makeup, though the number is probably greater, considering that with one quick Google search I found dozens of negative reviews for the procedure. On one site, people complained about everything from their eyebrows being too dark, harsh, and mismatched, to chronic eye infections, discoloration (tattoos oxidize and rust), scarring and more.

According to the Director of the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of Northern California and Associate Clinical Professor at UC Davis Medical Center, more serious issues can arise. Allergic reactions, granulomas, keloids, and needles slipping and penetrating the eye have all been documented by those who have elected to undergo dermapigmentation. There have even been reports of people with permanent makeup experiencing swelling and burning during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures, as the magnet may react with the metallic tattoo ink.

Although permanent makeup comes with many associated risks, there are plenty of people who swear by it and as long as you are careful, ruling the procedure out is not necessary. It seems that the two most important preparation steps are to make sure that you are educated about both the benefits and hazards of dermapigmentation, and to go to a well-reputed, licensed esthetician. Don’t be afraid to ask your esthetician questions about her professional background, knowledge of the procedure and quality of ink, as the more queries you have the more information you will receive and the less likely a bad tattoo will result.