Microblading sort of sounds like it could be the name of a miniature sword-fighting based sport, but what it is, actually, is a likely solution for many of your eyebrow woes. Also known as eyebrow embroidery, microstroking or 3D eyebrow embroidery, microblading is a surface tattooing technique that will give you perfect, natural-looking eyebrows that last a long time, but not forever.
While this lovely eyebrow shaping method is certainly easier than many others, it is still a somewhat invasive procedure, so if this is something you are considering you should definitely be well informed. Microblading is not painless, and there is considerable after-care or you risk some unpleasant side-effects.
I’ll cover all of that in this article, along with a thorough description of how microblading is done and the costs, so you will know just everything you need to know about microblading!
In this article:
- What Is Microblading/Eyebrow Embroidery?
- For Whom Is Microblading Best?
- Who Should Avoid Microblading?
- Microblading Eyebrows Origins
- How Is Microblading Done?
- Eyebrow Microblading Pre-Care
- Microblading Eyebrows Aftercare Tips
- Microblading Pros
- Microblading Cons
- How Long Microblading Lasts
- Microblading Costs
- How to Choose the Right Microblading Technician?
- Makeup Dos and Don’ts for When You Have Microbladed Eyebrows
- How to Remove Microblading?
What Is Microblading/Eyebrow Embroidery?
Microblading is a type of semi-permanent cosmetic tattoo. Unlike most cosmetic tattoos, where the ink is injected fairly deeply into the dermis, where it lasts for many years, the ink used for microblading or 3D eyebrow embroidery isn’t injected as deeply so the eyebrow tattoo fades over a shorter period of time.
Microblading looks extremely natural because the blade used to inject the ink creates hair-like strokes in between the natural eyebrow hairs.
For Whom Is Microblading Best?
3D eyebrow embroidery or microblading is a procedure that can be done on most people, but these are the people who are likeliest to appreciate its effects:
- Those with naturally sparse eyebrows, who would like more volume.
- Anyone with gaps or bald patches in their brows.
- People suffering from alopecia, a type of hair loss that can affect the brows and lashes.
- People who have already undergone chemotherapy, and have lost eyebrow hair as a result.
- People with uneven brows, who would like to somewhat correct the unevenness (although remember, eyebrows are sisters, not twins, and perfect symmetry is nearly impossible to achieve).
Who Should Avoid Microblading?
- Anyone taking blood thinners.
- Women who are pregnant or nursing.
- People taking or who have taken oral Isotretinoin (i.e. accutane or roaccutane) in the last year.
- Anyone with blemishes or active acne on or close to the eyebrows.
- People with diabetes, hemophilia, blood-borne illnesses, autoimmune disorders, or who are undergoing chemotherapy.
- Anyone who isn’t ready to take on the careful aftercare.
Microblading Eyebrows Origins
As with many beauty trends, people say microblading originated in Asia, although the first instance I could find this procedure being performed (or at least something similar) was in Canada’s West Coast, in Vancouver. It is possible that a richer history and more details exist in other countries, but all I can say is that aestheticians started performing microblading frequently all over North America some time in the last five years, and its popularity has only grown.
In the beginning, a session of eyebrow microblading would cost upwards of $700, but nowadays you can have microblading done for as little as $250 – just remember that sometimes cheap ends up being more expensive in the long run.
How Is Microblading Done?
A microblading appointment, like many other salon appointments, starts off pleasant, with a cup of herbal tea and a consultation. From beginning to end, the session will take between one and two hours, with extra time potentially spent on figuring out the perfect eyebrow shape in the consultation.
The microblading technician will have you in front of a mirror, and based on your desires will fill in your eyebrows to show you what your 3D embroidered eyebrows will look like in the end. Once you find your perfect shape, the procedure will start.
- Your skin will be sanitized with an alcohol wipe, and then a numbing cream will be applied to the skin below your eyebrows, and a little around it. This numbing cream is lidocaine based, and it will take about 30 minutes to fully numb the area. For some, this numbing will be complete, and they might even be able to fall asleep during the procedure! However, for many, the numbing cream will fade by the end, and even during the procedure you might feel some pain. It is very subjective, and totally depends on your level of pain tolerance.
- While the lidocaine takes its hold it’ll be time to settle on a color that will suit your hair and skin tone. The technician will show you a few different color blend options, but remember that once it’s under your skin the color will become much lighter, so choose an ink blend that will be a few shades darker than the final result you want.
- Once your skin is as numb as it can get, the technician will start microblading your eyebrows. The instrument used for microblading looks like a pen, with a disposable, blade-shaped cluster of needles on its end. The disposable end is dipped into the ink (which is also held in a disposable container). Holding the skin taut, the microblading technician will begin creating tiny cuts to mimic hairs, based on the shape you settled on earlier.
- Once one eyebrow has been fully microbladed (this can require as many as a hundred strokes), the technician will take a bit more ink and using a gloved finger will rub it into the skin, in order to push it into the cuts. This will be left on while the other eyebrow is being microbladed, and is called a “smear.”
- Once both eyebrows have been “smeared,” the excess ink (along with a bit of blood and clear fluid) will be wiped off with a disposable gauze, and the technician will do small corrections. You will be given a mirror, and a chance to give your input.
- Once you’re happy with your new eyebrows (they’ll be a little on the dark side, but don’t worry, it’ll fade soon), the microblading technician will apply a protective layer of vaseline, and you’ll be good to go. The skin might be tender, and you might feel some soreness for the next couple of days, but it will fade soon.
Eyebrow Microblading Pre-Care
Before rushing to book your eyebrow microblading appointment for tomorrow, make sure you haven’t done any of the following:
- Anything that’ll damage or thin out the skin on your eyebrows, including using resurfacing skincare products like acids or retinol, having a salon-strength peel, or getting sunburned.
- Taken medication that will thin the blood, including aspirin or ibuprofen. If you are nervous and want to take a painkiller before the appointment, acetaminophen is okay.
- Avoid drinking caffeine the day of the microblading procedure.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or taking drugs for a couple of days before your appointment.
- For a month before your microblading appointment, do not have any heavy duty procedures like botox or laser treatments done on your face.
If there is something specific you are not sure about, call the salon where you plan to book your microblading appointment and ask. They’ll be happy to answer!
Microblading Eyebrows Aftercare Tips
The question of how good your 3D embroidery eyebrows will end up looking (and how long they will last) depends partially on your technician, but it also heavily depends on how well you take care of them. Much like with a regular tattoo, the aftercare of eyebrow microblading is critical.
You essentially have a bunch of tiny cuts that must heal as cleanly as possible. It’ll take a few weeks for your eyebrows to heal completely, although the first week is when you really have your work cut out for you.
These are the details:
- Always wash your hands before dealing with your eyebrows.
- For the first 7 days, do not allow your eyebrows to come into prolonged contact with water. This means avoiding the swimming pool, being careful when exercising to wipe off sweat immediately, and showering carefully without submerging the face in water.
- Do not wear any makeup on or close to your eyebrows for the first week.
- Gently cleanse the eyebrow area with a lightly damp cotton round, 3 times a day.
- After the first day, regularly apply a healing ointment or salve with natural oils, immediately after cleansing.
- If going out into the sun is unavoidable, apply a zinc oxide-based cream to protect from the sun.
- For the first two weeks avoid saunas, tanning beds (and tanning in general), skin-resurfacing salon treatments or topical skincare products.
- Even if the skin becomes flaky or itchy, avoiding rubbing or picking at the eyebrows.
- Avoid drugs or excessive drinkings, as they will slow down the body’s self-healing abilities.
- It is one of the most natural-looking eyebrow solutions.
- Microblading lasts around 2 years – a fairly long time.
- … but not forever, so you can change your look as trends change.
- Microblading is fairly low risk.
- It saves the hassle of applying eyebrow makeup every morning.
- Microblading is excellent for those who have poor motor skills and trouble with applying eyebrow pencil.
- The procedure of microblading does hurt a little.
- The aftercare is involved and requires that you be very diligent.
- Significant fading after the procedure is common.
- If you are not careful with aftercare, you can risk serious infections.
- A poor technician could seriously mess up your eyebrows (although fixing a mistake is not as difficult as fixing a tattoo!).
Microblading Touch-Ups: How Long Microblading Lasts and How Often to Touch up
3D eyebrow embroidery is something that definitely requires touch-ups. Most aestheticians offering it will include, all in one price, both the initial session and a touch-up about 3 to 6 weeks later.
During the microblading touch-up, in addition to correction any errors and perfecting the shape, the technician will also be depositing a second layer of ink into the already microbladed strokes. This will strengthen the color, and ensure longevity.
Without a touch-up, the first microblading session is likely to seriously fade after a few months. With a touch-up, microblading will look perfect for at least a year, although it can last up to three years. It is very common for people to go back for more touch-ups once every year or two.
As with any salon service, microblading costs vary wildly from place to place, based on the skill of the aesthetician, the location, and the luxury of the salon or studio. Microblading might start as low as $250 per session, especially in more suburban areas, where most services can be cheaper.
Around $400 is the average, and it can get as high as $1000 when you go to permanent makeup artists with a near-celebrity reputation and years of experience. Don’t let cost be too big a factor when choosing where to have your eyebrows microbladed, because sometimes low costs mean an inexperienced technician that could do more harm than good.
How to Choose the Right Microblading Technician?
Eyebrows are a very personal thing, and microblading them takes a while (at least an hour or two, as you may recall). You absolutely must make sure you choose a microblading artist that will suit you with their skill, experience, cleanliness level, and demeanour. Otherwise, you can end up with wonky brows, or you can find yourself two hours suffering in the company of someone who doesn’t have good bedside manner.
When you begin your hunt for the perfect place to have 3D eyebrow embroidery done, start by looking at reviews. You can find microblading salon reviews on Yelp, on Google, and on Facebook. See if there is a specific artist getting great reviews, and look up their online gallery or Instagram profile. You want reviews that don’t only talk about the experience, but also mention the longevity of the microbladed eyebrows.
Usually, the pictures on microblading technicians’ galleries are of recently microbladed brows, so expect eyebrows that look a little darker than what would be perfect. Some artists create very perfect lines, and eyebrows that look super clean but a little artificial, while others have perfected a feathery, natural, and a little more haphazard look – as you look through different galleries, you’ll figure out which style you like best, so make sure to choose a microblading technician accordingly.
You might really love the look of tiny strokes clustered very close together, but the ink tends to spread as time passes, and the strokes lose their shape and connect with each other. Knowledgeable 3D eyebrow embroidery artists know this, and will have some space between each stroke.
Once you think you’ve found the perfect match, book a consultation. During this consultation, the microblading technician will ask you how you would like your eyebrows improved, and pencil in an approximation of what your eyebrows will look like after microblading. Feel free to ask them as many questions as you like, and make sure you like their answers.
Ask how they sanitize their tools (the ideal answer would be that everything they use is single-use and disposable), how long the microblading procedure will take, and whether it’ll hurt. You want them to answer with honesty, and with the kind of empathy that will make you feel more comfortable during the procedure.
If you don’t feel comfortable during the consultation, that’s perfectly fine – continue your search! Once you find someone whose style and demeanour you like, book the appointment, and look forward to perfect microbladed brows!
Makeup Dos and Don’ts for When You Have Microbladed Eyebrows
The beautiful thing about microblading is that it saves you makeup steps – especially the pesky filling in eyebrows part. For first two weeks after having your eyebrows microbladed, you absolutely cannot wear makeup on, or above the eyebrows, because it may cause an infection. Afterwards, you can straight up skip filling in your brows, especially on days when you are aiming for a more natural look.
If you do wear a lot of foundation, you might find yourself covering a bit of the microblading strokes with it, so you will either have to clean them off with a Q-tip, or layer a bit of eyebrow pencil over it.
For days when you wear more makeup, especially on the eyes, the microbladed eyebrows might look too soft or natural, so you might want to fill them in for a stronger, more made-up look.
How to Remove Microblading?
If, for whatever reason, your microblading technician made an error, there are a couple ways to go about fixing a problem. If you catch the mistake in the first week, and it is not a big one, you can go back to the same salon (or to a different one if you’re nervous). With the same kind of disposable microblading blade, a tiny Q-tip like sanitary tool, and some solvent, they will be able to push out the ink and remove the erroneous strokes.
For truly egregious microblading, however, the solution would have to be more extreme. You will need to see a dermatologist, who will likely recommend a resurfacing laser treatment. Fortunately, since the ink is not embedded as deeply into the skin, it won’t require as many laser treatments as a regular tattoo removal.
If you are not ready to go with such an expensive route, you can try regularly resurfacing your eyebrows (once they have healed!) with an over-the-counter glycolic acid serum, which will speed up the natural fading of the ink.
Would you ever consider microblading your eyebrows? Why? Why not? Let us know!
Photos via @jette.scherzer, @shaughnessy