Nurse whose tattooed eyebrows turned blue supports new license register rule for practitioners

  • "It really really dented my confidence for years and years"

In the late 1990s Fiona Millar-Nelson from Cardiff had a tattoo that would change her life, how she looked and how she felt.

As a teenager she’d over plucked her eyebrows and was looking for a solution. Aged 26, she was walking along a high street and saw an advert for eyebrow tattoos in a hairdresser’s window. 

She decided to go in, pay the £99 for the procedure and was left with eyebrows that weren’t just the wrong shape but they turned the wrong colour - they turned blue.

Fiona said: "So I was 26, I had throughout my teens plucked my eyebrows out. Then walking down the high street I saw a sign in the window in a hairdresser's and thought, what can go wrong?"

Fiona said she would have to use make-up to cover up the mistake but that was not always practical.

She added: “I really, really lost my confidence."

She said it was “absolutely heartbreaking” and caused her to really lose her confidence for many years. She would cover them with make-up but it wasn’t always practical. 

Fiona was so embarrassed about them that she gave up competitive swimming and it stopped her getting into relationships.

As she puts it, "I'd literally cancel social events around my eyebrows”. 

"I'd have to plan my day thinking, look at the weather and think, 'right it's raining so I probably can't do something'," Fiona explained.

Fiona works as a nurse and said it even impacted her professional life.

She said: "It's your face and I've got a front-facing role in work, I have to be very close to people, so it really really dented my confidence for years and years."

In all, Fiona spent twenty years with blue eyebrows until she managed to get them lasered off. 

A new licensing register will be introduced in Wales for tattoo artists, those working in semi-permanent beauty and body piercers.

Now the Welsh Government is introducing a mandatory register for tattooing and body piercing - making Wales the first country in the UK to do so.

It means there'll be a central list of approved and licensed practitioners to help reduce infection and improve practices. 

Fiona describes these changes as “amazing” giving people the clarity they need to know that what they’re getting done will be safe - and will look good.