This page is the main story. But, if you are considering having this treatment, there are a lot of particular topics you need to know about, to get an in-depth understanding of your options, and to help you make choices. These are all listed in the sidebar on the right. This is how they work:
- ‘Why the shape of your face matters’ – A very important factor affecting what shape of eyebrow will work best on your face, is the shape of your face. This group of pages tells you about the various typical face shapes, how to work out which one you have, and how that should affect your choice of eyebrow shape.
- ‘Why the shape of your eyes matters too’ – The same thing, but this time for your eyes.
- ‘Find your ideal eyebrow shape’ – Armed with the knowledge about your face shape and your eye shape, you should be able to narrow down your choice of eyebrow shape. This section tells you about some other ways to do this, and ways to check out how a particular shape should look, before you commit to the treatment.
- ‘Eyebrow colours’ – Finally, this section tells you how your skin tone and undertone will affect the pigment colours, and it tells you how to go about working out what you undertone is.
These are all topics you can dip in and out of while reading the page text. For convenience, I have added this right sidebar on many pages where the topics are relevant.
Now on to the main subject ….
What microblading is
Microblading is cosmetic tattooing for your eyebrows. It creates the effect of individual eyebrow hairs. So, it’s particularly good for extending the eyebrow line, or filling in any gaps, or making the eyebrows appear thicker and fuller.
It is the most natural-looking solution to correct eyebrows which are uneven, or which are sparse or have gaps in them.
Microblading is the name normally used nowadays, but you may also come across eyebrow embroidery, microstroking, or feathering. (It’s amazing that ‘microblading’ is the name that has stuck. The other names sound so much more inviting. Microblading sounds like the title of a Stephen King horror novel.)
There’s at least one other type of cosmetic tattooing treatment for eyebrows – micropigmentation – which uses a machine to create the effect of an eyeliner pencil. I’ll tell you more about that one later.
What is the effect you are after
You know those film scenes where the hero and heroine have a conversation on a balcony overlooking an alien city. There are some bits that move, but you know that most of it is a backdrop. But it looks so real that you forget that it isn’t a genuine alien city out there. Microblading is intended to have exactly the same effect. A backdrop of tattooed hairs is drawn in your eyebrow skin. And your real eyebrows add to the 3-D effect. Someone would have to get up very close and personal to spot that some of the hairs are not the real thing. Really, your only risk is your dentist.
Is it worth your while?
Microblading is the solution when you have got tired of spending time every morning filling in the shape for your eyebrows. It’s a fantastic way to give you the perfect eyebrow look without you having to work hard each day to recreate it. These are some of the problems it solves for you:
If you have any gaps in your eyebrow line which you need to fill. Gaps may occur because of you plucking them, or just the natural way your eyebrows grow.
You want a slightly different shape and you don’t have the natural eyebrows in the right place to create the arch you want.
You want your eyebrows to extend further.
You are tired of having to re-draw your eyebrows every time you go to the gym or the swimming pool or attend a yoga class.
Is it semi-permanent makeup?
Microblading is sometimes referred to as a form of ‘permanent makeup’ – which overstates it rather! More accurately, it is a form of ‘semi-permanent make-up, because the pigment will eventually fade.
The microblading procedure normally last between one and three years. The speed at which the pigment will fade depends on various unpredictable factors, such as: your skin type, the pigment used, how you treat your eyebrows, and environmental factors. I imagine the microbladed eyebrows won’t last as long on the face of a fisherman on a North Sea fishing vessel, as on the face of an ad agency executive.
So, you can expect to have to repeat the process. In fact, you also need some occasional touch-ups, to keep the eyebrows looking good.
This is all advantage, in a way. Because the results are semi-permanent, you’re not stuck with a tattoo for life, which you later regret, like an ex-boyfriend’s name. Instead, it means that you can make corrections over time, change your preferences, and make adjustments necessary because your face is also changing and ageing (Sorry!). Fashions in eyebrows also change.
What’s the difference between microblading and micro pigmentation
I think you could say that the big difference between microblading and micro pigmentation is this. Micropigmentation is meant to look like makeup. Microblading is meant to look like eyebrow hairs.
Micropigmentation is applied by use of a traditional tattoo gun. It creates a thick, solid-looking line, like the effect of eyebrow pencil. You may have had great aunts who had some ancient version of this treatment and looked as if their eyebrows had been drawn on with a marker pen! (what in the US is called a ‘sharpie’).
That is not what micropigmentation is like now. Micropigmentation is exactly the right treatment if you have two perfectly good, thick eyebrows and your aim is to avoid the need to set aside valuable minutes every day applying makeup.
Microblading, on the other hand, is designed for filling in gaps, extending the eyebrows, or making them appear fuller, by adding the appearance of eyebrow hairs. The two methods aren’t in competition; they fill different needs.
There is NO BLADE in microblading!
Before I get stuck into explaining the nitty gritty of how it is done, I need to reassure you of something. Although it is – misleadingly, as it happens – called ‘microblading’, There is no blade!
You are not about to be cut up by someone wielding a scalpel. What admittedly looks from a distance like a blade at the end of a pen, is in reality a row of extremely fine needles, which separately deposit pigment under your skin to leave the effect of individual hairs. The row of needles is dipped into the pigment colour and then applied to the skin to make a very fine incision.
The needles come as a cartridge, ready to be fitted to the handle of the pen-like tool They should be disposable, and used only once on each client.
Since the needles employed in the tattooing process are extremely fine, there should be little, if any, pain or discomfort caused by the procedure. If you are very sensitive or squeamish, the therapist can use a local anaesthetic cream to reduce any discomfort.
The pigment has an iron oxide base. Iron oxide is often used in cosmetics, including eyeshadow. It is a factor in the pigment ultimately fading and vanishing. You might think this is a drawback, but it’s a lot better than what so often happens with tattoo ink, which fades into an unnatural permanent colour. Because microblading ink ultimately fades and vanishes, you can correct or change the effect you want over time.
Pigments have expiry dates just like supermarket food packages. They should not be more than a year old.
Your skin will affect how the pigment will turn out. As a general rule, people with oily skin have tattooed hair which looks more solid. If you have a dry skin, then the marks may heal to a crisper final result. If you tend to bleed too much, that can remove the pigment during the healing process, leading to the need for a further touch-up (but that is an expected part of the process anyway).
The pigments will eventually look much lighter than they do on the day of the treatment. The reason is that healing of the eyebrow area will result in an additional layer of skin being created over the top of the pigmented area. Once the eyebrows have healed completely, you may find that the colour is exactly what you want – or even a bit too light. In that case, the scheduled touch-up can remedy that.
I am about to tell you how it’s all done. But I don’t want to waste any more of your time than I already have, if there is some reason why you cannot have the microblading procedure. These are called ‘contraindications’. They mean you can’t have the microblading procedure – in some cases, permanently, in other cases, for a period of time, or until you come back with a letter from your doctor. Some of them may sound a bit extreme for just a bit of skin work on the eyebrows, but this is the accepted advice from ‘Them’.
- You have a mole or birthmark on your eyebrow, or if you have tendency to keloid scars.
- Serious diseases – e.g. cancer, epilepsy, or autoimmune disorders (doctor’s letter approving treatment is needed)
- Circulatory or bleeding disorders (doctor’s letter is needed)
- You’re taking blood thinning medication. The tattoo lines are going to bleed a little, quite naturally, so it’s important that you aren’t taking any blood thinning products which would make any bleeding worse.
- You’re using strong retinoids (not till 6 months after treatment ends)
- There are skin diseases or irritation in the area.
- You’ve recently had Botox treatment (not for 2 months)
- You have a broken capillary in the eyebrow area
- You are sunburnt.
- After waxing (not for 3 days)
- After chemical peels (not for two weeks)
Shape, size, colour, and … messiness!
The first thing you will want to discuss with your therapist is what you want your eyebrows to look like.
When you visit the therapist to figure out how your new eyebrows should be shaped, it’s a good idea if you to wear your normal make up, so she has some idea of how you want your eyebrows to look.
If you are not sure about the shape you should go for, there are some rules of proportion which can help you work out the best shape for your eyebrows. It’s a long subject and I am dealing with it in these web pages:
First determine your face shape.
Now discover the best eyebrow shape for you.
The therapist may even take a series of measurements using a special ‘protractor’ designed for doing this. You may remember a protractor as one of those transparent plastic, fan-shaped, things with 180 degrees marked out on it, which you used in geometry class at school. It’s the same idea.
Then there is the issue of colour. Those are also quite involved subjects, so I am dealing with them in separate web pages:
First determine your skin tone
Next determine your undertones
Now discover the best eyebrow colour for you
It’s not compulsory to have perfectly parallel, regimented eyebrows. There is no right or wrong eyebrow style for technicians to adopt. You can have long, bold-looking eyebrow hairs, or shorter softer-looking hairs, if that fits your look better. Your tattooed eyebrow hairs can may be made to look well-combed or a bit more messy -again, to fit the look of the rest of your eyebrows.
How the microblading treatment is carried out
The way the treatment works is that you start first by deciding on the shape you want your eyebrow.
You will be lying down on a work table. Before any work is done on your eyebrows at all, the therapist will sterilise the area with a cleanser. They may rub on some anaesthetic cream if you feel you need it. That will then also be cleaned.
Then the therapist will use an eyebrow pencil to draw on the proposed position of the new eyebrows. It’s important obviously that you give the therapist your comments at this stage, so that the result is exact what you want.
The therapist will be using a hand tool. A sterilised needle cartridge will be inserted into it for use. The point of the processes that it is intended to closely mimic your eyebrow hairs, so that the drawn ones become invisible. There are different widths of needles available for the hand-held device so that the results can match the thickness of your natural hairs.
Therapist will then go through the process of tattooing the approved eyebrow design onto your brows. It should just feel like little scratches. (If you are menstruating, you may be more sensitive to pain.) Then it is gradually built up until the whole area is filled.
Pigment is added as the incisions are made by the needles. The pigment is inserted into the upper layers of the dermis, which is the lower part of your skin (beneath the epidermis).
You can ask to sit up and have a look at how the work is going from time to time.
After the tattoo incisions have all been made, the therapist will swab the eyebrows with the desired pigment colour. It will be allowed to settle for a while, and then the surface pigment will be wiped away, leaving the new appearance of the additional hairs in your eyebrows.
About six weeks after the first treatment, you need a touch-up appointment to allow the therapist to check that everything is healing properly, and then to fill in any gaps, or recolour any areas where the pigment has lost its colour more than it should have done.
Your eyebrows will gradually lose colour over time. The micro blade treatment will normally last for anything up to 3 years, if treated properly. But there’s no guarantees how long it will last. That’s down to individual skin and circumstances. It is usually a good idea to have a touch-up every six months or so.
Don’t judge immediately
Immediately after treatment, the lines will look very sharp and not completely natural, but over the next couple of weeks as the eyebrows heal and the pigment is absorbed deeper into the skin, they will soften.
Immediately after you have the treatment, your eyebrows will look darker than you thought you were choosing, but that is because the pigment fades up to 50% while the skin heals.
So, don’t be too impatient with the look and colour immediately after treatment. It will take at least two weeks for your eyebrows to settle down and for the pigment colour to reach the final colour, which it will then maintain until it starts to fade in the future. The appearance of the individual hair strokes will also stop looking as sharp and artificial as they do initially, and will come to seem more natural, and to recede into the background.
These are some steps you should take – or not take – in preparation for your microblading treatment.
- Don’t black or wax your eyebrows beforehand, because your therapist needs to be able to tell where your natural brows would be.
- Avoid exfoliators for 72 hours beforehand, because they may inflame the skin. The same applies to skincare products containing alphahydroxy acids, retinol, or glycolic acid, which can make the skin over-sensitive.
- It’s advised that you don’t have caffeine or alcohol for 48 hours before the treatment. (I wonder how many people observe that suggestion!)
- Do not take Aspirin, Niacin, Vitamin E or Ibuprofen 24 hours before treatment.
- Do not take omega3 (fish oil) 1 week before treatment.
- Do not tan or have intense sun exposure 3 days before treatment.
First 48 hours
During the first 48 hours after the treatment, there may be some redness, but that will soon go away. Mild swelling is normal but will reduce quickly.
If you find any blood or lymphatic fluid coming from the cuts, wash it using boiled water, which has cooled down to a usable temperature, and apply it with gauze, which can also be used to carefully dab any excess water away.
First 14 days
After that, a crust will appear which must be left to fall off naturally, which usually happens within four to five days. Your skin may also flake.
The area will definitely feel itchy as it heals. You should be given some after-care cream, and you should apply that carefully by dabbing on with a cotton swab. You can use Vaseline or a special balm to alleviate the itch, or you can apply ice to the area as needed. But DO NOT rub, scratch or pick the area! This may cause scarring, or it may cause the pigment to become uneven or fade in patches.
These are some rules you should try to observe during the healing process
- While your eyebrows are healing, you should avoid moisture on your eyebrows. The reason for this is that it can cause scabs to form, and these can lead to uneven healing of the area, ultimately leading to uneven looking eyebrows. You should use a cleanser, not water, for cleaning the area. When showering, try to keep water from your eyebrow area as much as possible – That may sound a bit unrealistic, but you can at least avoid direct spray onto your face.
- For the same reason, protect your eyebrows from any sweat-generating activity, such as hard exercise, saunas, Jacuzzis, sun tanning, or salon tanning
- Part of the healing process may involve skin in your brow area flaking and falling off. Don’t try and help it along by picking at it. You may end up creating patches of different pigmentation, or even remove the pigment.
- Avoid skin products containing retinol or glycolic acid
- Don’t have any chemical facial treatments, or laser peeling in the eyebrow area.
- It is recommended that you should abstain from alcohol, coffee or other caffeine drinks, because they may slow the healing process. (I bet this recommendation was invented by someone leading a very miserable life.)
- Avoid too much wind rustling through your eyebrows – e.g. piloting your speedboat, cycling like crazy, driving with the hood done, or doing a ton-up on your motorcycle.
- For the first two weeks after treatment, the pigment is quite light sensitive, so you should avoid too much direct sunlight, and certainly any tanning machinery.
- Use a high protection skin cream.
After the 14th day
After the 14th day, you can get back to normal. But if the healing process is still not absolutely complete, stay clear of glycolic acid or Retinol products until the eyebrows have healed completely.
Follow up appointment and touch-ups
Once the procedures been completed during the first appointment, you will schedule a follow-up appointment to check how the tattoos are healing and to see if any touch-ups are needed.
There’s no guarantee that your eyebrows will heal in exactly the same way. Particularly pronounced skin features, like very oily skin, larger pores, or thick skin can have an effect on how well the pigment is absorbed. There may be a further touch-up needed to correct or balance the eyebrow look.
You should make sure that the follow-up appointment, which is usually in about six weeks after the initial procedure, is included in the price.
Thank you if you have kept with me all through that. I hope I have not left too many of your questions about microblading unanswered.