California Health and Beauty


Consumer Guide for Choosing the Right Permanent Cosmetics Specialist

Dr. Laura Reed, O.D.
Garden Grove, CA

To make sure your permanent makeup looks good AND you stay healthy, be diligent and thoroughly investigate anyone you are considering to perform your permanent cosmetics procedure.

Chances are good that you have seen at least one woman with unattractive permanent makeup. The reason is that poorly trained technicians are out there tattooing.

But far worse than the risk of inferior looking makeup is the risk to your health: Hepatitis B can be transmitted with only 0.00004ml of blood that can live for 2 months on contaminated surfaces such as needles, tattoo equipment, counters, lamps, tables, and chairs.

If a technician who performs your cosmetic tattooing procedure uses unsafe equipment or does not know, understand, or follow proper infection control guidelines, you could contract a viral disease like Hepatitis or develop a severe bacterial infection.

Every day thousands of women enjoy the benefits of beautiful permanent makeup done correctly and safely. The advantages far outweigh the risks if you do your homework and follow these simple steps:

1. Inspect the Facility:

Visit the business and pay attention to the location and environment: Is it comfortable and quiet—or noisy with loud music, conversation, or the sound of hair dryers?

Inspect the procedure room for cleanliness: Is the room sanitary and secluded—or can you smell chemicals from permanent hair solution or acrylic nails?

If so, does the salon have an air filtration system preventing such chemicals or hair particles from contaminating your freshly tattooed skin?

2. See Required Paperwork:

California law requires ALL permanent cosmetic practitioners to register with their county health department. Forms must be filed voluntarily by a practitioner verifying that she has received, read, and will follow health department standards.

If she practices in a non-regulated city—whether in a salon or from home—no agency may even know she is tattooing so ask to see her paperwork.

3. Know City Ordinances:

About half of the cities in Orange and L.A. Counties are regulated under the Department of Health. If a technician works in a non-regulated city — from her home, in a salon, or in multiple locations — the county health department will not inspect her.

In a “regulated” city, an inspector visits the business where the technician works and examines the procedure room. He or she determines if the tattooing equipment is safe, correct sterilization methods are followed, the autoclave functions correctly, hazardous waste is disposed of properly, etc. A permit is issued if the business passes. This is one of the best ways to ensure your health safety.

4. Ask About Equipment:

Do not be fooled by a technician’s reassurance about sterile needles. Even when single-use sterile needles are used, diseases can be transferred between people through body fluid and airborne particle contamination of the hand piece.

The ONLY equipment that prevents cross-contamination is the patented Nouveau Contour System, or disposable manual hand tools. With other types of equipment, there is no way to guarantee safety unless it has been inspected and approved by the health department.

5. Ask About Training:

California has NO state board requiring the passing of an examination in permanent cosmetics. No board regulates school accreditation, the curriculum for primary or advanced training, or continuing education requirements. Therefore, all schools are NOT alike.

With no regulations, basic training varies from a few days to several weeks. Tuition ranges from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Students—and later their clients—get what they pay for.

Some “schools” are merely one person training others from home. Some schools do not require supervised procedures on human models to graduate, while others do. And some schools teach students how to reduce costs by using lower quality pigments or skimping on the use of infection control supplies.

Ask for details about the technician’s fundamental (basic) training and to see a certificate showing the number of training hours.

Ask to see any certificates for advanced courses. In addition, ask if the technician has been trained in Bloodborne Pathogen Control that follows CDC and Cal-OSHA guidelines and ask to see that certificate.

6. Qualify the Person’s Title:

Beware of anyone claiming to be a “Licensed Permanent Cosmetics Technician” or a similar title. He or she cannot be “licensed” because California has NO state board requiring a license in permanent cosmetics. The person is probably a licensed cosmetologist, esthetician, or manicurist.

7. What is the Person’s Background?

The national membership survey (2006) of the Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals reports that only 10% of its members are nurses and only 1.4% are physicians. The majority (over 85%) have backgrounds in cosmetology (hair, nail, and skin care) or traditional tattooing (body art).

The beauty expertise of these individuals may be very good, but their education in anatomy, physiology, and microbiology is limited. And without medical experience, they may practice according to inferior training and not even realize when they might do something incorrectly during a procedure.

8. Look at Photographs:

Technicians may use brochures and website layouts purchased from manufacturers showing models who are not their clients. Sometimes the makeup shown is conventional makeup, not permanent makeup.

To see the quality of a technician’s work, ask to see her portfolio of “before” and “after” photos of REAL clients.


  • Look at her abilities to customize design – do all eyebrows look like they were made with a stencil?
  • Look at color choices – does the color selected look appropriate?
  • Are there any “healed” photos showing how colors lighten?
  • Are there examples of advanced and multiple techniques such as hair strokes, shading, blending, or scar camouflage?Any experienced practitioner will not hesitate to show you her or his portfolio.9. Associations and Licenses:

    Has the technician joined any professional associations? This shows dedication to the profession and a desire for ongoing learning. Professional associations require members to abide by a code of ethics. They also offer regular continuing education and board certification programs.

    Does the technician have a city business license? This indicates that the business is legitimate and the owner is committed to its success.

    In the future, you will want that person to still be in business if you need a color refresher or another procedure.

    10. Consider Price Last:

    Although money is a consideration for everyone, price should be your LAST consideration. Any permanent cosmetic professional who is well-trained, experienced, and practicing safely, correctly, and ethically will NOT have the lowest prices because they cannot afford to.

    With few state laws regulating this field you, as the patient, are at risk. Remember the saying, “You get what you pay for.” A cheap price may result in bad looking makeup or worse because corners must be cut somewhere. Permanent makeup lasts a lifetime, so it is worth paying a little more to look good and be safe.

    All reputable permanent cosmetic professionals will not hesitate to answer your questions or show their credentials. Protect yourself and be informed, be careful, and be safe—you are worth it!

    Dr. Laura Reed, O.D.

    Dr. Laura Reed combines beauty and safety in her permanent cosmetics practice. As an artist trained in conventional makeup application, she has a keen eye for shape, symmetry, and color. Her education in fundamental and advanced permanent cosmetics covers all aspects of permanent makeup and medical tattooing.

    She trained extensively in multiple techniques and color theories at the prestigious Huntington Academy of Permanent Cosmetics and the world renowned International Institute of Permanent Cosmetics. With her artistic talents and cosmetic tattooing skills, she can create many beautiful looks ranging from subtle and natural to glamorous and dramatic.

    With over 26 years of patient care experience, Dr. Laura’s knowledge of the human body and infection control standards are second nature. She is one of the few medical professionals nationwide performing all permanent cosmetic procedures herself.

    Dr. Reed is among very few practitioners in Southern California specializing in Digital Permanent Cosmetics using the computerized and patented Nouveau Contour System®. Nouveau Contour makes the safest equipment and needle cartridges available that guarantee no disease transmission between patients in addition to consistent, beautiful results.

    Dr. Laura’s health care background and expertise assures comfort and safety for every patient. She uses the most effective anesthetics for pain-free procedures and strictly follows CDC and OSHA infection control standards at all times.

    Her studio is located in Garden Grove where she has a permit for Permanent Cosmetics from the Orange County Department of Health. Using advanced technology and skillful artistry, she looks forward to safely creating beautiful results for you!

    Education and Credentials

  • Fundamentals in Conventional Makeup Application Theory and Techniques
  • Advanced Conventional Makeup Artistry Theory and Techniques
  • Certified Eyebrow Design Master, Adriel International
  • Certified Nouveau Contour Permanent Cosmetics Technician
  • Advanced Permanent Eyebrow Techniques in Hair Simulation and 3-Dimensional Color
  • Innovative Techniques in Microdermal Pigmentation
  • Advanced Permanent Makeup Techniques in Full Lips and Color Formulas
  • Basic Techniques in Corrective Pigment Camouflage
  • Basic Techniques in Areola and Needling Pigmentation
  • Advanced Techniques in Areola Repigmentation and Skin Camouflage
  • Pigment Removal or Lightening and Color Theory
  • Certified in Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control (CDC and OSHA criteria)
  • Permit from Orange County Department of Health for Permanent Cosmetics
  • California Registered Doctor of Optometry (22 years)
  • DEA Registration for Controlled Substances (US Drug Enforcement Agency)
  • American Heart Association Emergency Medical Certification in First Aid/Life Support
  • Member of American Academy of Micropigmentation
  • Member of Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals