BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) – Tattoos have recently become more common among young Palestinians, both for fashion and cosmetic needs especially along the eyebrows, industry insiders say.
Nabil Qumsiyeh, who runs a cosmetic center in Bethlehem, says tattoos, especially for eyebrows, have increased by more than 70 percent among young and adult women over the past two years.
The reason, say tattoo owners, is that the tattoo provides better cosmetic results than other methods for eyebrow care. Clients, added Qumsiyyeh, usually ask to have their eyebrows made to look like their favorite celebrities.
Tattoos have also become more common among young men, according to Qumsiyyeh, especially on the shoulder, hand or foot.
Similarly, Khalid Gharib, who runs a tattoo shop in Beit Sahour, says young women like to tattoo their bodies like celebrities. "Tattoos are elements of attraction."
Even adult women, he added, seek tattoos especially for their eyebrows.
Asked about prices and quality, Gharib says some of the material used in tattoos are made in China and other countries, and they vary in quality and price.
In the past, he said, tattoo needles had to be sterilized in a special machine to avoid communication of infections. However, nowadays a needle is used for one client and so the risk of infections has been reduced. Tattoo removal
Tattoos can be removed with laser treatment, but perfect results can't be guaranteed and there are usually side effects to tattoo removal with laser, according to Khalid Gharib.
Another method, which Gharib himself prefers, is to paint the tattoo you wish to remove with new color close to the client's skin and this way the tattoo becomes almost invisible. Working woman and tattoos
Working women believe that eyebrow tattoos save them time and effort.
A journalist from Bethlehem who asked to remain anonymous says she tattoos her eyebrows because as a working woman, she needs to keep up with the latest fashions.
Tattoos, she added, saved her a lot of time and effort and are more efficient than other methods especially "as hair grows very slow on my eyebrows."
She added: "I used to spend about half an hour everyday on my makeup but after I tattooed my eyebrows I could save half of that time."
Eyebrow tattoos are relatively costly in Palestine, said the journalist, who paid 800 shekels ($200) for the treatment. In addition, as summer nears, tattoos are much more effective than other cosmetics when temperatures are high and during swimming.
Some women think eyebrow tattoos are not a good idea.
One of the opponents said fashion was very changeable and eyebrow tattoos bind women to a certain style.
She explained that women and celebrities used to prefer fine eyebrows, and now they moved to wider eyebrows but once eyebrows are tattooed, they will be difficult to change. She also expressed concern about the cleanliness and sterilization and whether cosmetic centers who make tattoos stick to the needed standards. Religion and tattoos
The Mufti of Bethlehem Abd al-Majid Amarin says that "painting the skin from inside is haram (unlawful) in Islam, while painting the skin from outside is lawful."
Removing eyebrow hair, added Amarin, is also unlawful in Islam.
He quoted a Hadith -- a teaching, deed or saying attributed to Prophet Muhammad -- reading that women who use tattoos, those who remove eyebrow hair and those who change their shape which God created are cursed.
He added that "God has given women and men natural beauty and they shouldn't mess with it."
In Christianity there isn't a clear attitude banning tattoos but, according to father Issa Thaljiyya, tattoos are useless like smoking and drinking alcohol.
He also quoted Paul the Apostle's words that "Everything is lawful for me, but not all things are profitable."
The oldest tattoos date back to 3,000 BC and it's even believed that the first human beings used tattoos to show their religious or national affiliation or to scare wild animals.