What Is Microblading: Everything You Need To Know

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My eyebrows have always been on the thinner side. So in order to give them some definition, I’m left having to fill them in each day. It’s a gift passed down from my mother and she inherited it from hers, so I’ve sort of just accepted this as my reality. Yet recently I’ve been thinking that there must be another way. Must I accept having to go through this routine every single morning for the rest of my life? Which brings me to microblading.

In the West, microblading is a real up-and-comer in the world of beauty and aesthetics. This trend is spreading rapidly, and it can be found in tattoo shops, salons, and studios worldwide. The basic premise is this: a unique and designated handheld tool – which includes several microblading needles – penetrates the upper layer of the skin and inserts pigments into the region. The results appear as hair-like strokes. They are used to enhance, reshape, and create a more uniform look for your eyebrows.

What Is Microblading? How Does Microblading Work? 

Close up of woman with closed eyes.

Close up of microbladed eyebrows.

The goal of microblading is to get the eyebrows to look as symmetrical as possible, within the frame of the client’s face. We all have different genetic material to work with, and the human face is not 100% symmetrical, in general. When a beauty tech or artist approaches a client, they first need to determine the best course of action. An initial consultation is often the starting point for these kinds of sessions.

Next comes appraising the state of the eyebrows, the quality of the hairs, relevant spaces and sparsity, etc., and mapping the eyebrows out. Nothing beats a well-trained, professional, experienced eye. But sometimes the tech will employ the use of a stencil in order to measure the areas with added precision. Microblading is still relatively new, which is why many techs out there are still busy gaining the needed experience. It’s not necessarily a sign of trouble to use stencils, but it’s best not to count on them alone.

Once the outline is done, the tech will begin the procedure by numbing the area (usually with a topical cream or spray). Using the microblading tool, the tech will then make small incisions in the skin and deposit dark pigments underneath them. They will elongate, fill, and rearrange the eyebrows as needed. This could take some time, and the length of the appointment highly depends on the state of the eyebrows before treatment and on the desired results.

Like many other invasive procedures, microblading has its drawbacks. Much like tattoos, microblading fades over the course of time. It also carries a lot of the same risks as tattooing: infection, pigment migration, unsatisfactory results in general (due to the artist using cheaper pigments or tools), and so on. For this reason, it’s best to seek out a reputable place of business. Make some inquiry into the training, licensing, and standards of the staff/studio. Recommendations will only get you so far.

Since this is a relative newcomer to the Western world of cosmetics, better microblading practices and techniques are still being discovered and implemented. There seems to be a general lack of knowledge in regards to safe microblading practices, due to the relatively recent nature of the procedure. Regulations relating to microblading are roughly the same as the ones pertaining to tattoos, and these vary from one location to the next.

Eyebrow Tinting Vs Microblading

Eyebrow tinting with tattoos differs from microblading. Tinting is much closer to tattooing than microblading, due to the nature of the tools involved. Tinting – like tattoos – goes deeper than microblading. 

Eyebrow tinting uses temporary dye and is not invasive. It also takes significantly less time than microblading. The FDA has more or less the same policy regarding both, which is that while the pigments and dyes themselves are subject to premarket regulations, the world of tattoos and cosmetics at large is regulated by local jurisdictions more so than federal ones.

Both of these procedures are meant to provide the client with color, fullness, and symmetry to the eyebrows. In the case of tinting, the dye is temporary. Many clients return for an appointment once a month or so. With microblading, the touch-up appointment pretty much guarantees that your look will remain consistent for 6-18 months, depending on the quality and your lifestyle. 

There is also a vast difference in cost. A microblading appointment (plus a follow-up) will set you back hundreds of dollars. Yet a tinting session will usually cost something like $20-$30. As for results, there is no question that microblading has superiority. But then again, each individual will have a different result in mind. There is no need to microblade if all you’re looking for is a darker tint or shade. Sometimes a little touch-up with some dye can make all the difference in the world.

However, if what you seek is fullness (as opposed to color), your best and more long-lasting bet will be microblading. 

Is Microblading Permanent? How Long Does Microblading Last?

Close up of woman's eyes.

Close up of mircoblading on eyebrows.

Microblading is a type of permanent (dubbed semi-permanent by some, since it fades over time) cosmetics procedure. Tattoos have been used in cosmetics since the early 20th century, but similar procedures have been known to exist for thousands of years. Some say microblading has its roots in China, others say Korea, and others still say Japan. 

Depending on whom you ask, the effects of a microblading treatment will last anywhere from one year to three. Some of the factors that affect the longevity of the procedure include sun exposure and your skin care routine. But many agree that the effects will last at their best for up to 18 months. Eventually the pigment will begin to fade, and you’ll then need to go for a touch up. You might have to do this every half year or so, but you might be able to wait up to a year between touch ups.

When it comes to touch-ups, it might be helpful to think of it like getting touch-ups for your hair color. If you do it when you first start noticing the fading then you can easily get by with a touch-up, but if you wait too long you might need to repeat the whole process from scratch.

Skin type matters when it comes to how long your microblading will last. While microblading will work on oily skin, it might be less effective than doing the procedure on other skin types. That’s because having more sebum on your skin makes it harder for the pigment to stick to your skin. So it’s best to consult with the tech before doing the microblading so that you can know upfront what results to expect.

Does Microblading Hurt? Microblading Healing Process

There is an adage when it comes to beauty, which can be best summed up as: “beauty is pain”. Understandably, physical pain is one of the most subjective things in the world. As mentioned, your technician will apply a numbing cream or spray to the area. This very local anesthetic will (ordinarily) cause you to feel and hear the movement of the blade, but not necessarily feel the incisions themselves as they are being made. It’s an odd sensation, to say the least, but it doesn’t hurt in the same way that a cut traditionally would.

The healing process is a part of the overall procedure, and after the numbness subsides there is a good chance that the area will feel bruised and sensitive. This is a normal part of microblading. It’s only natural for invasive tools to leave their mark, even if it is minimally invasive. The same goes for microneedling, derma rolling, microdermabrasion, and the like. It breaks the skin, and there are consequences. 

Microblading Before And After

Eyebrow after-care is of the utmost importance for the overall success of the procedure. The artist or tech can only do so much, but then the rest is up to the one whose eyebrows they are. While there is (ordinarily) a touch-up session scheduled 4-6 weeks after the process, there is a lot to do before that time and after it. The guidelines for proper care are not only there for the health and safety of the client, but are also in the best interests of the newly-bladed eyebrows.

Your tech will be able to provide more detailed instructions, but a few of the basic post-microblading aftercare rules of thumb are:

  • Avoid any kind of scratching, peeling, pulling, and any other manipulation of the area. The eyebrows will undergo some significant changes as they heal after microblading- swelling, scabbing, brightening – and you don’t want to hinder or undermine the recovery process by fiddling with them.
  • Avoid the application of makeup, moisturizer, lotion, sunscreen, and other types of hands-on cosmetics to the area. Your tech will most likely provide instructions regarding the types of salves or medication you can (and ought to) apply and the best way to go about doing that.
  • Avoid anything which gets your eyebrows excessively wet or particularly humid: pool, jacuzzi, sauna, etc. Some may want to take care while bathing to cover the area. The pigmentation is semi-permanent, not absolutely permanent, and it resides in the upper layers of the skin. This is why it could technically be pushed out if subjected to heat, moisture, or pressure.

Follow these tips, and whatever else the tech tells you, in order to enjoy the full effects of the treatment. Doing so will leave you with fuller-looking eyebrows that also look natural and have a nice shape.

Conclusion

There will always be someone who is looking for the next trend or big thing. This is true in cosmetics and it’s true to basically anything in life. Microblading is not something you should just jump into without doing your research first. It takes prep, and it’s best if you know what it is that you are getting into. With microblading there is a longer commitment – if you want to go through with it and reap the benefits, that is.

From East to West, the process of microblading is one which keeps on gaining traction. More and more people are discovering its potential and are going for it. It might be a procedure that is more time-consuming, but it can also be one of the most beneficial.

There are lots involved in microblading, both during and after the procedure. And the cost might deter some people. But if you do decide that microblading is right for you, it can be an amazing treatment that will make your day-to-day life easier and more confident. And the good thing is that although it’s long-lasting, it’s not totally permanent. So if you try it and later decide that you want to let it fade, you have the flexibility to do so. 

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