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Microblading: An In-Depth Exploration of Pain, Cost, Healing Duration, Risks, and More

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Before scheduling your eyebrow appointment, please review this information.

Countless hours have been devoured in front of the mirror, painstakingly refining my eyebrows. If time were translated into money, these hours would amount to a considerable fortune. Yet, it would not alleviate the frustration associated with the daily routine of using a variety of brow pencils, gels, pomades, and even soap to get the look you want. This frustration eventually compelled me to try microblading. But what is microblading. In this article, we'll discuss not just that, but all you could hope to know about this procedure to give you roll out of bed-ready brows.

Despite the intimidating association with tattooing, microblading, a semi-permanent eyebrow tattooing technique, is temporary and boasts a surprisingly straightforward, almost pain-free healing process when carried out correctly.

If you're considering the microblading procedure, you've landed in the right place. In a comprehensive discussion with cosmetic tattoo specialist Piret Aava, brow artist Alexandria Capparelli, and dermatologist Tracy Evans, MD, I sought to understand the nature of microblading, the associated pain, cost, longevity, and potential fading over time.

Microblading Explained

Microblading is a semi-permanent tattooing procedure used to enhance eyebrows. Unlike traditional tattoos, which employ a tattoo gun, microblading utilizes a blade-shaped tool with little, virtually imperceptible needles. These needles create hair-like strokes along your brows, depositing pigment into your skin. The outcome is remarkably realistic brow hair that remains unaffected by washing for over a year.

Microblading versus Tattooing

Microblading is a form of tattooing; however, it is not permanent like a traditional tattoo. Microblading involves simply applying the pigment to the skin, allowing your body to metabolize it over time until it fades away, rather than embedding it in the deeper layers of the skin where it becomes permanent. The two methods differ in the types of "inks" used — traditional tattoos use concentrated tattoo ink, cosmetic tattoos, such as microblading, use smaller pigment particles — and the application methods.

Microblading uses a pigment that is applied to the skin in a specific way, creating a semi-permanent "tattoo" that appears soft and subtle, as opposed to traditional tattoos' bright, opaque outcome.

Over time, the pigment on your brows will lighten a shade or two from its actual color, unlike a body tattoo which can exhibit a blue-green tint around the edges when it starts to fade.

Who is an Ideal Candidate for Microblading?

An individual's suitability for microblading primarily depends on skin type rather than the quantity of natural brow hair. You may not be a qualified candidate if your skin is highly reactive and sensitive or if you experience keratosis pilaris on your forehead, regular breakouts, or cystic acne around your brows. This is due to the initial inflammation caused by microblading, which can exacerbate skin conditions and impact the tattoo's healing process. Oily skin can also cause microblading to fade faster, reducing the longevity of your microbladed brows.

Dr. Evans advises patients against microblading if they have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies to other types of topicals. Some individuals may develop allergic contact dermatitis following microblading, resulting in an itchy, scaly, cracked rash. It would be best to inform your cosmetic tattoo artist of your reaction. If an allergic reaction occurs after your appointment, consult your dermatologist, who can prescribe a steroid to alleviate symptoms and prevent damage to your tattoo.

To respect your reading time, most brow artists will refrain from microblading pregnant or breastfeeding clients due to potential infection.

Similarly, if you're taking blood thinners, have diabetes, or have a history of keloid scarring, it's crucial to consult your doctor before proceeding with the procedure.

Does Microblading Hurt?

The pain level associated with microblading is generally low to moderate, with most clients comparing it to a light scratching sensation. However, pain tolerance varies between individuals. Before starting the procedure, the brow artist typically applies a topical anesthetic to numb the spot, reducing discomfort. It's worth noting that some clients have reported the sound of the microblade scraping against the skin to be unsettling, but it's usually over in about an hour or two.

Cost and Longevity of Microblading

Microblading costs vary significantly, depending on your location and the artist's experience. As of 2023, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1000 for the procedure. Touch-ups are usually recommended about six weeks post-procedure and may cost extra.

When performed by a skilled practitioner, microblading results can last 1-2 years, depending on skin type and care. To prolong the lifespan of your microbladed brows, it's recommended to avoid sun exposure and skincare products with active ingredients, such as retinol, as they can fade the pigment. Regular touch-ups are also recommended to maintain the appearance of the brows.

What About The Healing Process?

The healing process for microblading generally takes 2-4 weeks but can range depending on the person. During the first week, your brows may appear darker than expected, and you may experience mild redness, swelling, or tenderness. The color will lighten significantly as your skin heals and the pigment settles.

For the best results, it's essential to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your artist. This usually involves keeping the area clean, avoiding water and sweat, not picking or scratching at the brows, and applying an aftercare ointment.

Possible Risks of Microblading

As with any procedure that breaks the skin, there are risks associated with microblading. These include infection, scarring, or an allergic reaction to the pigment. Unsterilized equipment can also risk transmitting infectious diseases like hepatitis or staph infections. To minimize these risks, ensure your artist is a licensed professional who follows proper hygiene and sterilization protocols.

Furthermore, there can be dissatisfaction with the aesthetic outcome. Misshaped brows, color changes, or pigment migration can occur if the procedure isn't performed correctly.

The Takeaway

Microblading can be a wonderful solution for those looking to enhance their eyebrows and save time on daily grooming. With proper care and a qualified professional, you can achieve natural-looking, semi-permanent brows that simplify your beauty routine. However, like any procedure, it's important to conduct thorough research, understand the risks, and choose a reputable, licensed artist.

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