Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Microblading

(Photo: Yan Berthemy)

(Photo: Yan Berthemy)

My God-given brows are pretty dismal, I’ll admit. Hence, when I first learned about microblading, I was curious but definitely a little scared. For those of you who don’t know, microblading is semipermanent tattoo done by hand using a tool with micro-needles. The tool is used to etch lines into the skin, and then those lines are filled with pigment.

Because the needles are so small, the tattoo doesn’t go very far into the skin. Hence, microblading eventually fades and isn’t a permanent solution. However, even though it isn’t forever, the amount of time it’s shaved off my makeup routine makes it worth it in my opinion.

(Photo: Larm Rmah)

(Photo: Larm Rmah)

What you should know

  • What’s your budget? Before you make your appointment, you should know the costs. Microblading isn’t cheap and ranges between $350 to $1000 for first time appointments.

  • Are you a good candidate? If you’re using Accutane or have used it within the past year, you can’t get microblading. It will quite literally remove your skin. Additionally, if you have a skin condition like eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea, microblading could cause more flare ups. Also, if you’re pregnant or nursing or have a lidocaine allergy, you shouldn’t do microblading. Oh, and since it is a tattoo, you can’t do microblading if you’re under 18 without parental consent.

  • What’s your skin type? As I stated earlier, microblading isn’t permanent — it usually lasts between one to two years. However, depending on your skin type, microblading will last longer or shorter. Oilier skin types tend to shed more pigment, so the full effects last closer to a year, whereas drier skin types can retain color two years and sometimes more. (If you’re oilier, consider asking your technician if they offer a combination of powder brow and microblading, as this combination tends to lasts longer.)

  • Consider the risks. Microblading does involve cutting into the skin, which means you have to be very careful taking care of the wound while it’s healing. You want to keep the area clean and adhere closely to aftercare solutions.

  • Bad around needles? Microblading at the end of the day is a shallow hand tattoo. Yes, it hurts, but before your technician starts work, a numbing cream is usually applied to take off the edge.

  • Expect touch-ups. Every microblading appointment constitutes two separate sessions. After you heal from you’re first session, you’ll return to get your second. Aftercare is the same for both sessions. Usually, you wait four to six weeks between sessions.

  • Don’t touch your brows for two weeks. Two weeks before your appointment, you’ll want avoid getting any treatments such as lasers, chemical peels, brow waxes, or injectables. You’ll want to avoid these for two weeks following as well. Also, lay off retinoids, vitamin C serums, and glycolic acids for two weeks before and after. You want your skin as non-irritated as possible beforehand and while healing.

  • Lay off the blood thinners. In the 24 hours before your appointment, don’t drink alcohol or take any blood thinners such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

  • Don’t sweat it. Sorry, workout buffs. The day before your appointment, day of, and day after, avoid activities that cause excessive sweating.

(Photo: Joe Gardner)

(Photo: Joe Gardner)

What to expect

  1. Arrive with clean brows. You want to make sure your face is washed and your brows are bare when you arrive. Of course, you technician will probably clean off the area as well, but starting with a clean slate is a must.

  2. Apply numbing cream. Then, numbing cream is applied all over the area and you’ll want to wait for the cream to take effect. While the cream is setting in, your technician might move on to the next step.

  3. Get measured. The next part constitutes of your technician using a pencil or ink to sketch out where the tattoo will go. They create a hand drawn template on your face to ensure you get the optimal brow look.

  4. Microblading. Once the numbing cream has started working, microblading actually isn’t terribly painful. You’ll feel the scratching and the brows being tugged at by the needle, but it shouldn’t be sharply painful. If it does hurt at this step, however, ask them to stop and they’ll apply more numbing cream.

  5. Applying pigment. Your technician ought to have first blended a custom pigment for your brows that complement your hair color. After they’ve finished needling in the lines, they’ll apply a wash of pigment, which will stay on for about five minutes to fully seep into the cuts.

  6. Clean up. Finally the area is cleaned up and you’re finished. Don’t be alarmed if your brows look very dark at this point. The color will fade as it heals. Your brows will feel a little tight and there might be a burning feel, but this is all very normal. It’s hard to say how long an appointment is from start to finish, but I would estimate anywhere from an hour to two hours depending on your brows and your tech.

(Photo: Larm Rmah)

(Photo: Larm Rmah)

Aftercare

  • AVOID WATER AND MAKEUP FOR 10 DAYS. The first ten days, your brows will be their most sensitive. Don’t apply any soap, shampoo, water, or other liquids to your brows during this time — this includes Aquaphor and Vaseline. Remember, microblading isn’t like other tattoos in that the ink sits much shallower in the skin compared to regular tattoos. You also want to avoid makeup, pools, and hot tubs during this time. When you shower, don’t let the water spray you in the face.

  • No sweating for 24 hours. You don’t want to sweat off the ink right after your appointment. Reschedule that workout class for another time.

  • Expect changes. Freshly microbladed brows will appear quite dark and then they will scab over and get pretty itchy (do not scratch or pick these scabs). As I said earlier, the darkness will fade. In fact, during the healing process, the pigment might almost disappear as the waxy, pale new skin appears. This usually happens, around two weeks and lasts about a month after your appointment. After around six weeks, the pigment in your brows will finally settle where they’re supposed to be. Throughout the process, don’t panic!

  • Don’t bleach, dye, or tint for a month. For the month following your appointments, you want your brows to heal up as naturally as possible. Avoid coloring your brows during this time.

  • Try to avoid irritating your skin. Don’t apply any irritating acne medications like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, etc. while your brows are healing. Also, avoid retinols and glycolyc acids around the brow area during this time. Don’t thread, wax, or use hair removal products.

  • Avoid sun exposure. For two weeks afterwards, wear a hat or stay out of the sun. The last thing you want on your open wound is a sunburn.

(Photo: Kimberly Wang)

(Photo: Kimberly Wang)

Personal review

There are a lot of different styles of microblading. Some people prefer a neater look, while others love a fluffy natural brow look. I’m somewhere in the middle — I really wanted a natural but groomed look to my brows. To achieve that look, I went to Saki Lee of Laurel NYC.

I’m also an oilier skin type, so I requested that Saki do a combination of powder brow and microblading on me. My last appointment was in November of 2018, and while it’s been less than a year, since I’m oilier, the microblading has already faded a bit. However, since my brows are naturally quite sparse, I still have a pretty strong brow compared to before. When I’m not wearing makeup, my brows still look great. However, if i’m sporting a heavier glam, I do have to fill in my brows just a smidge.

Since the natural shape of my brows are kind of wonky, microblading has helped correct my arches. I will say, it’s made a huge difference not only shaving off time from my makeup routine but also in giving me a proper template of where my brows are really supposed to be. I personally feel like microblading has totally changed my life and I’ll be going up for a touch up later this year.

Featured photo by ISCO/Unsplash