Thanks to its natural-looking results, longevity, and versatility, eyebrow microblading has enjoyed a unique position in the beauty spotlight. Sure, it’s expensive, but it means freedom from the daily grind of powder and pomade, and it works wonders on sparse and full-but-unruly brows alike. So "microshading," a new brow procedure that's gaining traction on Instagram, is surely some pretender to the throne, a superfluous hanger-on, right?
Actually, it turns out, not at all. Microshading is a kind of sister technique to microblading; the two are often used in combination. Both are incredibly specialized, semi-permanent brow tattooing options, but there’s still an important distinction to make. "Microblading is lots of tiny, tiny strokes, but microshading is a dot-to-dot method, giving a diffused effect," brow expert Suman Jalaf explains. Essentially, microblading is like sketching on individual hairs as you would with a brow pencil, whereas microshading gives more of a soft, feathered finish, like an eyebrow pomade or powder.
Microshading is also a little gentler on the skin, but that does mean it fades faster than microblading, and you may need to go in for touch-ups more regularly. "I really like both treatments and, as they offer different finishes, I sometimes use both on one client," says Jalaf. "For example, I might use microblading near the start of the brow for a really precise effect, and then switch to microshading for a feathered effect in the center of the brow. It’s about balancing both equally."
Just like with microblading, all the same disclaimers apply: The oilier your skin, the quicker the fade is likely to be; there’s downtime after the treatment where you’ll need to avoid sweating, water, and makeup; and touch-ups will be required going forward. "Microshading may even need a touch-up as much as every six weeks to begin with," cautions Jalaf. It’s a costly procedure — upwards of $1,000 in major cities — and if you happen to find it at a much cheaper price, remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. It’s a tattoo, after all, and a very detailed one at that. You’re going to want a safe pair of hands.
If you’re not sure which technique is best for you, your brow artist will be able to help you choose. The decision will come down to what condition your brows are currently in, and what you’re trying to achieve. If your brows are sparse towards the end, microblading might give them that extra bit of zhuzh, but if you’re looking for a fluffier finish, microshading might be the way to go.
This story was originally published on Refinery29 UK.