Nneka Campbell saw pictures on social media promising fuller eyebrows. It’s why she decided to try microblading. But she didn’t get the fuller eyebrows she had hoped to get.
“This looks nothing like the pictures on Facebook marketplace, not on her Instagram and not what she showed me,” Nneka said about her results. She shared photos showing one eyebrow higher than the other and shaped differently.
Nneka went to Shantell Ronquillo, who calls herself a “microblading expert” on social media. But the Florida Department of Health said Ronquillo did not have the license required to perform Nneka's procedure.
“Microblading is a form of tattooing in the State of Florida, so you do need three different licenses from the Florida Department of Health,” said Christine Oliver, an environmental manager for the state.
Both the artist and the establishment require tattoo licenses. In addition, the establishment has to have a biomedical waste generator permit.
The NBC 6 Investigators went undercover to find out if Ronquillo was still offering microblading at a salon in Miami.
“She told me she would charge me $150 for the microblading and that I would have to do a retouch about two weeks later and that would be $75,” our undercover producer said about her conversation with Ronquillo.
She showed our producer the needle she uses and pictures of her work.
When the NBC 6 Investigators wanted to talk to Ronquillo about what our producer had heard, she declined an on-camera interview. She said Nneka refused to pay for a required touch-up. She also said she didn’t know she needed a tattoo license. The state told us she got her required license after talking to us.
Ronquillo was not the only one the NBC 6 Investigators found operating without a tattoo license. A poster on the window of another Miami salon says “specializing in microblading.”
“Charleen (the owner) came over and said ‘yes’ that she does microblading,” our producer recalled. “She told me she would charge $300 and that would include a retouch.”
She showed our producer a needle and photos.
Minutes later, NBC 6 Investigator Myriam Masihy went to ask Charleen if she knew the state said she didn’t have a license.
“I actually do have all my licenses, my love,” Charleen said.
She would not present the license to NBC 6 Investigator Myriam Masihy.
Our investigation also took us to a home where microblading was offered inside.
“I went in, went to the second floor of her home, there was a little salon there,” our producer said. “Basically it was one chair with a large light. She told me that she could do the microblading for 180 dollars.”
When asked if she had a license she said she did.
When asked if it was okay to be performing microblading in her home, she said yes.
The woman didn’t return calls to talk about what we found.
“Microblading is not allowed to be performed at home,” said Christine Oliver.
The reason the state doesn’t allow the procedure to be done in a home is because the skin is pierced during the procedure. That’s why it’s required to be done in a licensed facility.
“There is a risk of transmitting blood-borne pathogens such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV,” Oliver explained.
Krista Thompson owns a center that corrects bad tattoos and microblading jobs.
“I’ve seen terrible microblading,” Thompson said.
Aside from verifying licenses, she recommends you check the pigments being applied on your face because some have been recalled. She says you should also check the stencil pattern before you let the artist begin.
“Make sure you have a mirror in your hands so that they can let you see what it looks like first,” she advised.
Nneka says she wishes she knew all of this before and has only one word of advice.
“Beware, beware,” she warned.
The health department says microblading or tattooing without a license is considered a misdemeanor in Florida and encourages people to report it by calling 305-324-2400.