Ask the Rabbi

  • Halacha
  • Tattoo

eyebrow tattoo


Rabbi David Sperling

Av 6, 5778
there are a new type of eyebrow tattoos that are called micro blading. They only last a year or two, and eventually fade or wash out. It does not penetrate to the level of a permanent tattoo. Is this allowed?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. From my research it seems that this new type of eyebrow tattoo is another refined form of semi-permanent makeup. It differs from a regular tattoo by the fact that the ink is placed only in the dermal level of the skin, which slowly changes over time, and causes the tattoo to vanish. A regular permanent tattoo places the ink on a lower level of the skin which remains forever. What is new in this method is the precision cuts made into which the ink is placed. These cuts are “micro” thin, and resemble hairs, thus creating a look of natural eyebrows. The inking though works on the same level as other semi-permanent makeup. The halacha about semi-permanent makeup is not agreed upon by the great Rabbis of our generation. While some permit it (notably Rabbi Ovadaya Yosef zt”l – Taharat HaBeit volume 3, pages 29-34) others forbid it (notably Rabbi Elyashiv zt”l and Rabbi S.Z. Aurbach zt”l), Others allow it only in cases where there is real need – such as embarrassing blemishes etc. The issues involved are three fold. Firstly, is the Torah prohibition against tattoos only against permanent tattoos, or does it include long lasting ones? Perhaps tattoos in the dermal level of the skin are only forbidden rabbinically. Secondly, does the Torah only forbid “writing” a tattoo, or does it also forbid a tattoo of mere color. A point to consider with this micro blading is that these tattoos of individual hairs may perhaps be considered as a picture, in which case they may considered as a Torah prohibition by all opinions. Lastly, there are some Rabbis who understand that the Torah forbids only idolatress tattoos, other tattoos would only be a Rabbinic sin. Based on this, those who permit this semi-permanent makeup base themselves on the fact that it is the combination of three Rabbinic level prohibitions, which when taken together are not strong enough to create a ruling to forbid it. Those who forbid it may hold on any one of the three issues that it is in fact forbidden by the Torah (because on each of the three issues there are strict opinions), or that even all the issues are in fact only Rabbinic, it is still forbidden. As I wrote, in this case there is an additional factor, that of the eyebrow hairs being “drawn”in tattoo, which may be considered as more “writing” than the pure colors used in eye shadow tattoo make-up. This of course would rule out one of the lenient factors, making it harder to permit. In short, it would be seem that one should refrain from such a tattoo – certainly before a major Posek (Rabbinic codifer) has addressed the issue. Blessings.
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