Everything You Need To Know About Eyebrow Microblading

Dear Daniela,

What is microblading? I’m so confused at this point. Initially, I thought it was a permanent tattoo kind of situation but now I’m seeing lots of people talking about their brows fading or changing colour or needing some kind of top-up, so I’m assuming it’s not as permanent as I once thought. Is it still worth doing? It was so popular and all anyone spoke about for a couple of years but now I feel like people are buzzing over different things instead? Please help! I have really thin, straight brows and I want to get something done but I’m confused.
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Yoana, 30
Beauty can be a fickle thing. As you touched upon, new treatments or ingredients can crop up, go from 'cult favourite' to 'mainstream smash hit' in a matter of months, then quietly disappear from the headlines. Sometimes it’s because something is genuinely gimmicky (peel-off masks), sometimes it’s because tastes change (chunky noughties highlights) and sometimes it’s because the treatment or product is so utilitarian and effective that it becomes part of the furniture, like gel manicures. They were new once, too! Personally, I think the reason you’re reading about microblading less now is not because it's passé, but because it's become more commonplace.
But as time goes on, we do learn more about certain treatments and how they work in the long term, so it’s worth revisiting. To answer your questions, I turned to Jaimineey Patel, head of training at Blink Brow Bar, whose deft hands have launched many a flawless brow.

What is microblading?

"It’s a form of semi-permanent makeup and the technique consists of creating fine hairlike strokes into the skin with a handheld tool, which is then filled with pigment," confirmed Patel. Note semi-permanent – we’ll come back to that later. "With its precise application, microblading creates a really natural finish that delivers long-lasting results. If you want to cover gaps, define or fill in over-plucked brows or replace barely there brows, microblading is a fantastic option," added Patel.
Essentially, if you have fairly full brows, it will give you the shape and texture you have after having them tinted, but indefinitely; if you have sparse brows, it will give you the effect of having them pencilled in. You have as much or as little as you need, so someone with really fluffy brows who just wants a more defined arch and perhaps a small gap filled in will have fewer strokes, while someone with fine brows who wants a stronger brow will have more.
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How does microblading work and how much does it cost?

If you’re expecting a quick fix, think again. "The microblading procedure is created in four stages across two separate appointments," said Patel. "In your first appointment, you’ll have a consultation and patch test, where you go through all your medical and general health history and discuss the brow shape and colour you would like with your therapist. You’ll also be taken through how to care for your new brows post-treatment and be given a patch test to confirm you’re not allergic to the dye we use. Next, our therapists will place a ruler above your brows and roughly sketch an outline with a pencil to show you a suggested shape. Once you’re happy with your shape, we will then thread and tint your brows to set the template."
If after 48 hours you’ve not had a reaction to the dye, you can go back to the salon and have your brows microbladed. A numbing cream is usually applied and then your therapist will get to work, which can take more than an hour. "After the initial microblading, you’ll need to come back for a top-up in about six weeks’ time, as about 50% of the initial pigment will fade as it settles," added Patel.

How much does microblading hurt?

According to Patel, everyone’s different. "More than anything, clients sometimes find the noise of the handheld tool more irritating than any physical discomfort as it can get a bit grating. Also, at your initial consultation we’ll go over a few tips but, for example, we always advise against having coffee beforehand as it can increase the discomfort. You can take something like paracetamol beforehand too, but the numbing cream is usually very effective," she said.
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What do brows look like immediately after being microbladed?

Another thing to note? You won’t leave with picture-perfect brows. "The skin is usually quite red for a short while, and the dye is very intense at this point. It’s also absolutely normal to see the skin flaking, peeling and scabbing," said Patel. "Do not touch, scratch or pick at your brows during this healing process. If your brows do feel tight or itchy, just tap or pat at them to relieve the itchy sensation. You can use a light gloss of Vaseline only if necessary to soothe, but clients who have oily skin may not need to use it as much," explained Patel, adding that microblading will usually look its best around 10 to 14 days post-treatment to allow for the peeling to subside and the dye to settle.

How can I keep my microbladed brows from changing colour?

The colour applied to your brows will be blended to perfectly harmonise with your skin tone and hair colour but in some unfortunate circumstances, the colour can shift slightly. To prevent this happening, follow Patel’s top tips: "Keep your brows dry and do not get them wet while they are healing, but if they do get wet, don’t rub them, just pat dry the area with a towel." What else to avoid? Basically, any stress to the skin but namely: "Sun exposure and all heat treatments including sauna, steam and sunbeds during the healing process. Don’t use any skincare products on the brows while they’re healing, and don’t have any treatments, including laser and chemical peels." Brows already changed colour? Read this.
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How long does microblading last?

Microblading is often positioned as an alternative to having your brows tattooed, or referred to as a 'modern brow tattoo'. But while it does last a very long time, it isn’t permanent. "The treatment will last up to 18 months but this can vary slightly from customer to customer," explained Patel. "As the skin heals over time, it pushes the pigment out of the skin, and the length of this time can differ in each person." While it may be freedom from brow pencil for a year or so, it’s not forever, so you should take into account the cost of future top-ups when making your decision. Also, you may well still need to thread or tweeze your brows to make sure any new hairs that crop up fall in line.
Good luck!

Daniela
Got a question for our resident beauty columnist Daniela Morosini? No problem, qualm or dilemma is too big, small or niche. Email deardaniela@vice.com, including your name and age for a chance to have your question answered. All letters to 'Dear Daniela' become the property of Refinery29 and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.

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