For people with thin eyebrows looking for what some consider to be a semi-permanent fill, microblading might be an option. Here is what you need to know about this new trend, including facts, costs, and associated risks.
The term "microblading" has been around for a few years and celebrities have recently caught on, including Madonna.
Microblading is a cosmetic tattooing procedure that fills in thin eyebrow areas to make them look fuller. Unlike a traditional tattoo, which is permanent, the coloring from microblading may last for up to 3 years. This is because microblading uses different tools and a smaller amount of pigment.
Fast facts on microblading:
- The process involves using a hand-held microblade tool with needles.
- Microblading involves breaking into the skin, and infections are possible if untrained people practice under unhygienic conditions.
- The success of the microblading procedure will depend on the person performing it.
An esthetician uses a microblade tool to apply color pigments that look like real hairs. The color effect will fade over time, so touch-ups may be necessary to maintain the desired look.
Microblading is said to offer natural looking and defined eyebrows, but the process typically takes some time to perfect.
The initial procedure may take up to a couple of hours, and the eyebrows will appear darker immediately after the initial treatment.
It is possible that the color will fade after a few weeks and a touch-up may be needed.
All cosmetic procedures, including microblading and permanent makeup tattooing, have possible risks associated with them.
It is also important to remember that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate the color additive substances of the pigments used in these cosmetic practices.
Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the risks of microblading before undergoing a procedure.
Do the research
One of the most important things to think about when considering microblading is the salon that will be carrying out the procedure. The person doing the microblading should be a licensed esthetician who has undergone the appropriate training.
Because microblading regulations can vary from state to state, anyone who is considering having the procedure needs to take precautions.
In general, highly skilled and licensed estheticians at high-quality salons and spas offer microblading, but a person considering microblading should check out each esthetician's credentials before going ahead with the procedure.
Someone with accreditation from either from the American Association of Micropigmentation or the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (SPCP) is likely to have more credibility and training in permanent makeup or microblading.
Both organizations are also good starting points for locating licensed and skilled technicians and estheticians.
While allergic reactions to organic pigments used for the procedure are rare, it can happen. It is, therefore, important to ask the esthetician what types of pigment they are using and how they confirm allergies.
Since microblading breaks the skin, there is a serious risk for transmission of infectious diseases, including HIV and bacterial skin infections.
Unsterile tools and other equipment are among the leading risks for transmitting infection. It is essential that all equipment is sterilized before the procedure has even started to avoid any infectious complications.
Microblading cannot be easily covered up if it is done incorrectly. If this occurs, a person will likely endure additional costs to manage complications and correct the procedure. The best way to ensure the procedure is done correctly is by vetting the esthetician and the establishment where a person is considering getting the microblading done.
According to the SPCP, the possibility of problems with permanent makeup procedures is rare when all health standards are followed, especially in regards to the disinfection and sterilization of equipment.
Medical complications may also be related to post-procedural care, but these risks decrease when a person follows aftercare instructions properly.
One 2014 report in the journal, Clinical Interventions in Aging, confirms that cosmetic tattooing bears the same risks as other types of tattoo procedures. These risks can be minimized, and consumers can be protected with better education, information, and training.
According to Paradise Salon of Carson City, Nevada, preparation for a microblading procedure involves:
- Avoiding caffeine beverages or alcohol on the day of the procedure.
- Tinting brows before the appointment.
- No tanning or sunbathing for 3 days before the appointment.
- No waxing or plucking eyebrows within 2 days beforehand.
- No chemical peels and other intense facial treatments for at least 2 to 3 weeks before the procedure.
- Wash and style hair before the procedure, as the brows must not come into contact with water for at least 7 days.
Other spas and salons will likely recommend a similar set of instructions for preparation, which might include:
- Discontinuing vitamin A (Retinol) and Botox treatments for at least 1 month beforehand.
- Stopping taking fish oil or any other natural blood thinners, such as vitamin E, at least 1 week before the procedure.
- Avoiding aspirin or ibuprofen for pain relief (as these types of medications are blood thinners).
- Not working out the day of the appointment.
On the day of the procedure, it is important to sit down with the esthetician and voice any questions or concerns. The esthetician should also explain the procedure and the options, including style and color, and make recommendations.
Before the procedure starts, the esthetician will probably use a topical numbing ointment on the brow area, which helps reduce discomfort during the microblading procedure — although, according to the SPCP, there are various options for topical anesthesia available.
Once the client is comfortable, the technician begins the procedure. The process is very detailed and can take up to 2 hours. It is important for the esthetician to take their time because the result will last for a few years and needs to be done well.
The client may feel a scraping-type of sensation in the brow area, but the process is usually only minimally painful and very tolerable.
After the microblading procedure, and for at least 1 week afterward, a person's eyebrows might appear darker. They may also feel sharper due to scabbing and healing. It is also normal to experience some redness and mild swelling.
The esthetician will give their clients aftercare instructions, which might include:
- Gently washing over the eyebrows with a fingertip, using antibacterial soap and water for about 10 seconds, rinsing, and then patting dry.
- Using a minimal amount of moisturizing ointment.
- Keeping the brows away from water for 7–10 days, which includes not taking long showers or swimming.
- Avoiding putting makeup on the brow area while it is actively healing to keep the area as clean as possible.
- Not picking at the scabs.
- Avoiding direct sunlight or tanning for at least 4 weeks after the procedure.
- Not using facial scrubs or peels for at least 4 weeks after the procedure.
- Not sleeping on the face for at least 10 days after the procedure
The goal of microblading is to create a natural-looking fill for thin eyebrows. The results can last anywhere from 1–2 years, sometimes even longer. The quality of the eyebrows will depend on the quality of the job, which confirms the necessity of choosing a licensed and skilled esthetician.
According to the website, Allure, the procedure can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,400, depending on the location and artist expertise. Lower price options might be available, but it is vital to avoid inexperienced technicians.
Once the skin has healed, a person can protect their eyebrows and help prevent the color from fading by applying sunscreen on the microbladed area. Some people may require a touch-up to finalize the brows 4-8 weeks after the procedure.
After that, touch-ups may be done after about a year or as directed by the esthetician.