When it comes to eyebrows, thin is no longer in. However, factors such as over-tweezing, hypothyroidism or simply genetics can result in barely-there brows that just won’t grow.
Eyebrow microblading, a semi-permanent tattooing technique in which a trained professional uses a special pen to create the appearance of individual hairs, has become a popular solution to this problem. The result is full, shaped, natural-looking brows, such as those in this before and after image, shared on Instagram by Trish Dinh, a Florida microblading technician. Racheal Bebe’s Semi permanent makeup near Melbourne.
Whether you overplucked in the 90s or are just obsessed with Cara Delevingne’s and Solange Knowles’s magnificent eyebrows, microblading could solve your brow envy. But you’re probably on the fence, especially after hearing those horrifying stories of microblading gone wrong. One woman suffered a life-threatening skin infection after undergoing a discounted session, but the truth is, microblading is safe when done by someone licensed and trained.
Still, microblading is a relatively new beauty concept, so it can be hard to know what’s normal and what’s not—and whether you’d even qualify as a candidate for the procedure. We checked in with brow experts Veronika Dmitriyeva, Mary Torres, Narissa Matheney, and Naomi Sinead.
Now that thick brows are back in fashion, and it makes sense that many women are considering the newest cosmetic procedure made famous by social media’s love for bold brows with dramatic before and after photos of microblading eyebrows.
How does microblading even work?
With microblading, the technician uses tiny blades to make small, hairlike incisions right above the dermis layer of the skin while depositing pigment directly into those incisions. As a result, your brows will naturally fade over time and require touch-ups. Because microblading is a semi-permanent procedure, your eyebrows will last anywhere from one to three years. This is unlike what happens with a tattoo artist, who injects ink below the dermis, making the results hella permanent.
To create the desired look, a technician manually punctures and penetrates the skin with the pigment colour that best suits the client’s natural brow tone to give the illusion of fuller, darker, and groomed brows, Dmitriyeva says.
Microblading is a semi-permanent procedure that results in natural, fuller-looking brows. But if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, there’s more you need to know about this trending beauty treatment.
This is a relatively new service that differs significantly from tattooed makeup of the past: the look emulates actual brow hairs and the colour matches better, too. Instead of a tattoo gun, superficial cuts are created and filled with ink.
An esthetician uses a microblade tool to apply colour pigments that look like real hairs. The colour effect will fade over time, so touch-ups may be necessary to maintain the desired look.
Microblading is said to offer natural-looking and defined eyebrows, but the process typically takes some time to perfect.
The initial procedure may take up to a couple of hours, and the eyebrows will appear darker immediately after the initial treatment.
The colour may fade after a few weeks, and a touch-up may be needed.
It can be great (but it’s not for everybody).
Microblading isn’t only reserved for thin, sparse brows—even if you’ve been blessed with naturally full ones, microblading can enhance what’s already there. But the results are especially remarkable on those with thin brows (and can be nearly life-changing for people who suffer from alopecia).
Microshading, however, tends to be better suited for oily/sensitive skin types—and for anyone who prefers the makeup look 24/7, since it creates a powdered effect. Instead of making hairlike strokes along the eyebrow, the technician uses a “(round) needle to poke and deposit pigment above the dermis, focusing on areas around or directly on top of the microblading,” Sinead says. The only downside? Shading requires a certain level of expertise, so the process takes longer, costs an extra $75 to $100, and feels slightly more uncomfortable
What are the biggest risk factors, and how do you avoid them?
Microblading is way less invasive than Cosmetic eyeliner tattooing, and there’s zero downtime required. However, the infection is still the most significant risk, which means you want to do your research and choose a reputable technician who works in a sterile environment. “Your technician should have an extensive background in skincare,” Sinead says. “That includes having permanent makeup and blood-borne pathogens certificates.”
Browsing through the technician’s online portfolio is a smart move, but keep in mind it’s super easy to rip off another artist’s before-and-after photos—or use Photoshop to make one’s work look better than it is. Instead, watch for videos showing the technician’s face as they’re doing the procedure. Are they wearing gloves? Are they unwrapping the equipment before use?
Something else to look out for: the wrong pigments. “Never trust black pigment!” Matheney says. “Microblading techs should only use dark brown pigment even when doing someone with the blackest brows.”
Once you’ve found a properly licensed and trained technician, ask for a consultation. Be leery of any person who brushes off your concerns, charges a fee for the consultation, or refuses to give a complimentary allergy patch test. “They should be able to explain everything, from where they get their ink to how to care for your brows afterward properly,” Sinead says.
“When pursuing any medical treatment, it’s important to know the qualifications of the person performing the procedure,” Prather says. “You should ask: Where did this person train? How long have they been performing treatments? How reputable is the office? Going through this checklist can ensure that the person performing your treatment is using a sterile technique and following standard safety precautions to minimize any risks of scarring, infection, and transmission of blood-borne products. Board-certified dermatologists generally do not perform the microblading procedure, but they can suggest a reputable aesthetician or licensed professional who can safely guide you through this process.”
If you have friends who’ve tried microblading before, ask them about their experiences (or for a recommendation)—but follow your gut above all else.
Taking your overplucked eyebrows from patchy and sparse to full and thick can be a slow and frustrating process. If you’re sick of pencilling them in every morning and you’ve already tried every brow gel and growth serum at the beauty counter, you may be yearning for a more permanent fix. Enter microblading: With this semi-permanent technique, a technician reshapes brows by drawing individual hairs with a special Cosmetic eyebrow pen. “Hairlike strokes are created in between the brow hairs to fill in short or sparse brows,” says Hibba Kapil, owner of Hibba Beauty in New York City. The result: Fuller, darker brows that look natural and require no daily upkeep.
The treatment is offered at salons across the country and boasts A-list fans. Lena Dunham recently opened up about her decision to microblade her eyebrows in an essay for Vogue, where she says the results exceeded her expectations: “When I finally sat up, I was too stunned to speak,” she wrote. “On my face were two perfect brows, the same hard-to-capture brown as the hair on my head, multidimensional, thick in all the right places.”
Dunham’s experience with microblading was a success (and her new look is serious #browgoals). But should you consider the procedure to give your own eyebrows a boost? “It’s a safe and effective procedure when done by someone experienced,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City. But there’s a caveat: “It must be done under sterile conditions. Otherwise, you can get a skin infection like staph or strep, even herpes.”
In other words, this is one beauty treatment that you definitely want to have done by a professional. Dr. Jaliman warns that at-home microblading kits carry a huge infection risk (and would you really want to tattoo yourself anyway?). She also advises people with eczema and rosacea to steer clear.
Microblading Side Effects
Just like an unhinged diet (e.g. when people take IIFYM too far…) no beauty treatment is entirely free of side effects. Prochnow says some people notice a little flaking and scabbing after the process. There’s also a risk of infection anytime you cut the skin—although chances are minimal if you properly treat the microbladed area. “You want to make sure you keep the area moist with Aquaphor or Vaseline to avoid scabbing,” but avoid wetting the area for about a week afterwards, says Prochnow. “Also, avoid picking at any scabs or rubbing the brows during the healing process, so you don’t pull out any pigment.”
Peaches and Masu add that some people develop an allergic reaction to some of the products used like latex, pigment, or lidocaine. This could cause temporary swelling, redness, and irritation. The technician should test a small patch test of skin before the treatment to ensure there is no negative response, adds Dr. Green.
Microblading can transform sparse eyebrows without making them look as though they were drawn on with a Sharpie — but the process is not without some risk. As with any procedure using a blade or a needle, the process can lead to infection and adverse reactions, as well.
Since the procedure is still relatively new and has only recently become a trend, determining the risk of side effects is tricky. However, some accounts of severe reactions to microblading have popped up around the internet.
Recently, a Michigan woman claimed she ended up in the hospital after a microblading procedure. She required IV antibiotics to treat the infection near her eyes.
In 2017, an Australian mom named Amanda Coats posted pictures of her unpleasant experience. She claimed to have a rushed and unprofessional session, after which she allegedly ended up with a severe infection, with her skin peeling off and her eyes puffing up.
After Coats’ Facebook photos went viral and, multiple news stations and magazines published her story, the clinic where she underwent the procedure filed a lawsuit against her, claiming they lost a great deal of business.
“There’s no way we could be possibly responsible for the infection at that stage, two and a half weeks after the procedure,” the owner of the clinic told Daily Mail. “My wife has done over 2,000 of these procedures, and we’ve never had any issues of infection.”
Another woman, with the user name Shelly R., posted a Yelp review with photos of an infection she experienced following a microblading session at a California facility. She claims that her disease lasted four weeks, clearing up only after she received medical treatment.
“Two weeks later, I got a severe infection below my left eyebrow. I have been to an eye doctor, urgent care, and dermatologist that has cost me hundreds of dollars,” she wrote. “Have been suffering from open wounds, redness, major swelling for nearly three weeks. Have been on antibiotics and now an antiviral prescription.”
How Worried Should You Be?
These stories of infection are frightening. But are they the norm or the exception?
The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals says permanent makeup, such as microblading, is safe as long as “sterilization and disinfection guidelines are met.”
However, microblading does pierce the skin, which increases the risk of infection. And since it’s performed close to the eyes, an infection can come with serious complications. Dr. Anthony Rossi, a cosmetic dermatologic surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told BuzzFeed that microblading might be risky because the industry is not regulated. Have A Look At Rach’s Cosmetic eyebrow feathering Services
“We’re trying to put advocacy out there to say a lot of these procedures being offered in nail salons or spas involve traumatizing the skin, which can lead to serious complications,” he said. “They’re not regulated, and that’s a serious issue because they’re not held to the same health standard.”
If you choose properly trained service-providers for both Botox & permanent makeup (including microblading), they’ll know about proper placement and how to make you look softer, more feminine without long-term repercussions.
Reducing Your Risk
If you are considering having your brows microbladed, taking steps to avoid a bad experience can help you have a positive outcome.
Before you even schedule an appointment, do your research. Check with your health department to see what regulations are in place in your state. You can also check with the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, which can refer you to a technician.
Seek an artist trained by a reputable institution. He or she should offer an initial consultation, during which you can ask questions and assess the cleanliness of the salon. A good technician will ask you for some general health questions and discuss the type of brows you want.
If the technician touches their reusable products (pigments, anesthetics, or even doorknobs) after they started the tattooing process, with the same gloves on their hands, leave.
If you do not value this treatment, I’d highly recommend you to stick to pencil & brow products.
Paying a low price is a bad idea if you have a lot of doubts about the person who is about to tattoo your face. It won’t be worth the savings. You could be left scarred for life.
However, people must do their research, as it is not regulated in the United States very well. Meaning anyone can do it (and teach it) without any experience with health and sanitation or even an Esthetician license.
RISK VS. REWARD
By now, you’re probably super clear on all the ways to hedge your chances and get the best results from eyebrow microblading. It could just be the answer to your thin-brow woes!