Microblading: it may sound like a new potentially dangerous winter sport or form of medieval torture, but it’s the latest, most cutting-edge (pun fully intended) technique by which to achieve full, flatteringly shaped eyebrows, whether you’re starting with 90s style pencil brows or nothing at all. Madonna is said to have had the treatment and if it's good enough for Madge, it's good enough for us. But what is it?
Microblading sounds frankly terrifying. Talk me through it.
The difference between microblading and semi-permanent makeup is that microblading is manual; it’s all done by hand with no machines. The microblading tool looks like a pen, and you attach the tiny, pronged blades to the end. You create all the brush strokes individually, with none of the vibration that you get with a semi-permanent makeup machine. There’s no power behind it, it’s all you. With the machine, the vibration causes pigment to disperse in the skin, so the stroke isn’t as crisp- it blends out more. With the blade you don’t need to apply as much pressure, and it’s very superficial, which is why microbladed brows and makeup doesn’t last as long. That’s also why the dye doesn’t change color, as it’s not pushed as deeply into the skin.
Microblading creates a very delicate effect that can’t be achieved on a semi-permanent makeup machine, even if you’re an extremely experienced technician, as the machines vibration takes away an element of control. Working freehand with the microblade tool, you can be more precise.
Where did microblading originate?
Microblading originated in China, over 10 years ago. It’s a very refined technique and has slowly filtered through to us in the West. It’s become established over here in the last three years, but it’s in the past year that it’s just blown up. The results are so incredibly natural and realistic.
How do I know if microblading is for me?
It’s most suitable if you’re after a beautifully defined brow and you pencil them on pretty much every day. It makes such a difference. You get that extra time to yourself and more sleep in the morning! If you’re not someone who does that every day and you happily leave the house without pencil or product on your brows, then there’s probably little point, as that’s not something that you’d ordinarily spend a lot of time on. For most woman there’s no way they would leave their house without having done their brows. In that case, it makes sense to have it done. You never have to waste time drawing them on or trying to get them even. If you’re not that person, it’s probably not for you.
A big majority of clients are cancer patients, and microblading can really help to restore someone’s confidence. They might come in before, during or after chemotherapy or treatment, although beforehand is great as I can help to recreate their brow almost exactly. It’s not essential, as the browbone is there as a guide, but catching them before can help you to achieve even more incredible results. Depending on the strength of the treatment they’re having I might do microblading during, but it’s normally after chemotherapy, especially if treatment is aggressive as even one small nick can have an impact on the immune system. Doctors will always advise patients as to what’s best.
Is there anyone for whom microblading is totally off the cards?
Really the only people that definitely can’t have microblading are women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. You also need to be over 18.
This tattooing business is serious stuff. How can I find a good technician?
When looking for a great technician, look out for an extensive ‘before and after’ portfolio. It’s absolutely a must for me, because you want to see that that person has worked on young skin, mature skin, dark skins, fair skins; a whole range of people. If there’s not too much evidence of that, we’d have to question the experience of a technician.
How long does a microblading session take?
An initial session normally takes about 2 -2 ½ hours. The treatment time is actually the quickest part, it’s the preparation that takes time, from consultation to numbing time to making sure the shape is right, that they’re perfectly even and the color is spot on. That can take over an hour, while drawing on the hair strokes might only take 30-60 minutes.
Onto the pain issue. What can I expect? What does microblading feel like?
It’s very scratchy. I wouldn’t say it’s painful per se, but it’s very uncomfortable. It’s not a relaxing treatment during which you’ll drift off- you feel it, but you also hear it a lot more than you feel it, which can be strange. You hear the scratching, but the area is numb. Everyone has their own pain threshold. Some people say it’s totally fine while others are more sensitive to pain. It can also depend on how you’re feeling on the day, for instance if you’re on your period, or leading up to it, you’ll feel it more.
Any risks to bear in mind?
The correct aftercare is really vital though to prevent infection. You need to keep the brow area very clean and keep your hair away from the area. You must not get brows wet or apply any cream to the area apart from the healing balm you’ll be given for around 7-10 days. After that time you can fully wash but just be careful around the brow area as it’ll still be healing. For some people the healing process can last up to two weeks. After that point you can carry on as normal.”
Microblading is semi-permanent. When might I need a touch-up?
How quickly color fades totally depends on the individual and their skin. There’s no one size fits all with this treatment. Sometimes I might have a top-up at six months, and sometimes at eight months. It can depend on any number of things, from sun exposure to exfoliation. There’s no definitive answer in terms of how long microblading lasts, but most clients will return for a top-up within a year or so.
As a guide, normally I’d tell a client to return before brow color has faded too much, but if you are wanting to change color, you’re best of waiting a bit longer to allow you to switch to a different shade or go cooler or warmer.
How can I keep my brows “on fleek” for as long as possible?
We’d say that wearing an SPF 50 is essential, but then I think it is anyway whether you’ve had microblading or not. Be careful not to over-exfoliate the brow area too; not that you ever need to! It’s just something to be aware of, as this will cause color to break down much faster.
Is microblading a lifelong commitment?
If a cancer patient had their brows microbladed, and then eyebrow hair grew back, they wouldn’t need to continue with the treatment anymore, so commitment wise it’s very dependent on the person, their preferences and the situation. The touch-ups are always considerably less cost-wise than the first treatment once a year, if the brows make a big difference to confidence and lifestyle, as they do for me personally, I think it’s worth it. The time and effort it saves me justifies the cost.
What’s the number one advantage afforded by microblading in your view?
The definition that it gives! It can make you look instantly amazing, and for many of clients, it changes lives. The hair follicles in the brows are so delicate, for many people once they’re gone, they’re gone, so this is such a great treatment if you’re in that situation.