Eyebrows are a key element of the face—as the recent trend toward power brows makes clear. Fortunately, even for those with sparser brows, microblading offers the illusion of the bold brows you dream of, with a natural look.
While everyday options like brow pencils, powders, and gels, or even the occasional brow tint are simple solutions to beef up the brow area, microblading takes the strategy to the next level, creating an impactful look that lasts. Plus, for those with sparse or thin brows, the cosmetic procedure can create the illusion of a thick and full eyebrow shape in a way those products can’t.
“Microblading is so much more than a beauty boost; it’s about feeling like yourself and celebrating your unique beauty,” says Parisian microblading artist Delphine Breyne, founder of New York’s Delphine Eyebrow Couture. But what exactly is microblading, and is it the right choice for you? Read on for everything you need to know about the semi-permanent makeup move.
What Is Microblading?
Let’s start with a definition as precise as your best brows: “Microblading is a semi-permanent cosmetic procedure that uses fine needles to create natural-looking eyebrow hair strokes by depositing pigment into the skin,” explains Los Angeles-based dermatologist Chris Tomassian. This is done using a small, often digital handheld tool.
“Microblading is often used to fill in sparse or thin eyebrows and create a more defined shape.” says Piret Aava, brow specialist at the Eyebrow Doctor. And though the cosmetic tattoo may sound just like a traditional tattoo, a few subtleties separate the approaches.
“The key difference between microblading and a traditional tattoo is the depth of pigment placement,” says Aava. “Microblading is a superficial procedure, typically reaching only the upper layers of the skin, while tattoos penetrate deeper into the dermal layer.” Aava adds that the pigments used in microblading are specifically formulated to fade away. This means that the delicate, hair-like strokes will disappear over time (your look will last anywhere from one to three years with proper care and touch-ups)—a medium commitment level that allows for some flexibility and adjustment.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Microblading?
If you struggle with brow insecurity of any sort, you’re likely a good candidate for microblading. “Microblading is a versatile solution that suits most individuals,” says Breyne. “It is a great option for those with sparse, over-plucked, or even non-existent brows who seek to enhance their eyebrow shape and fullness.” Breyne notes that providing the service to cancer survivors who have lost hair due to chemotherapy and other treatments is particularly fulfilling. “Witnessing the incredible transformations in my clients is what truly fuels my passion for this art.” (The procedure can be effective along the hairline, too.)
Tomassian agrees—with a few caveats regarding skin type. “Microblading is a great option for those who struggle with medical conditions that result in hair loss such alopecia totalis,” says Tomassian. “However, with microblading does come with some scar tissue formation which can potentially limit the results of a hair transplant down the line. Tomassian adds that people with certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, or active acne may not be suitable candidates for microblading, as it can exacerbate these conditions.
What Can You Expect at a Microblading Appointment?
To begin, the microblading procedure isn’t exactly quick. Expect to allot two to three hours for the entire appointment, consultation included. You’ll start by talking to your technician about your natural brow concerns and experiences, along with goals and expectations for your new brows.
“A topical numbing cream is applied to the eyebrow area to minimize discomfort during the procedure,” says Aava. “Next, the technician will measure and map out the ideal shape and position of your eyebrows, ensuring they are symmetrical and complement your facial features.” Your microblading artist will then select the right pigment to match your natural hair color and complement your skin and create hairlike strokes throughout the entire area, microshading to create an even and full look.
As for how it feels, “While some clients may experience slight discomfort or a sensation akin to light scratching during the first two minutes of the procedure,” Aava says, “the overall experience is relatively pain-free.” Some even say that tweezing and waxing are more painful.
Initial results will appear darker at first (Breyne estimates an 20-40% increase in depth and definition) but the color will settle over time. To wrap up the appointment, you’ll talk aftercare and likely schedule the first in a series of ongoing touch-up appointments. “The first touch-up appointment is scheduled for 4-6 weeks post-procedure to make any necessary adjustments and ensure the best possible outcome,” says Aava.
“The number of touch-ups per year will depend,” says Breyne. Her technique lasts seven to eight months, adjusting for “your skin, lifestyle, expectations, and skincare routine, such as retinol acid or vitamin C. Vitamin E may play a part in weakening pigment, as well, so be sure to chat with your technician about your beauty regimen. Everyone is different, and unique. Some clients can last more than a year.”
What About Post-Care?
Like many cosmetic procedures, microblading has a somewhat visible recovery period. “Clients will be provided with aftercare instructions, which include applying aftercare ointment and avoiding moisture, sun exposure, and certain skincare products during the healing phase,” says Aava. Tomassian suggests that you take those seriously. “Like any procedure that breaks the skin, there’s a slight risk of infection if proper hygiene and aftercare instructions are not followed.” You may experience swelling for a few hours post-treatment, along with extra-pronounced brows.
“Over the next 1-2 weeks, the eyebrows will go through a healing process,” says Aava. “During this time, clients may experience scabbing, flaking, and some fading of the initial color.” Expect some itchiness, but be sure to avoid scratching to decrease risk of infection and messing up your newly-applied pigment. After a week or so, begin applying sunscreen to your brows to prevent fading.
And finally, just enjoy the confidence that comes with a full, natural-looking brow. “Proper aftercare is your secret weapon for maintaining your gorgeous brows,” says Breyne. “Dedicate yourself to it, and you’ll enjoy your new look for years to come.”
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk