It doesn't matter if you like them arched and feathered or straight and bold, eyebrows are arguably the most important facial feature. If you're not satisfied with the ones you have, there are so many ways to update them, including brow gel, pencils, and even tattooing. But now there's a very natural option that delivers semi-permanent results. Ladies, we'd like to introduce you to microblading. Unlike the sometimes Sharpie-esque effects of permanent makeup, microblading is more of an embroidery of trompe l'œil strokes that look just like real hairs.
We spoke to Nadia Afanaseva and Besty Shuki, microblading experts and trainers from New York, who gave us the 411 on the unique service, and after our talk there's no surprise why so many women love it. "Microblading is perfect for those who want to fully reconstruct, define, cover gaps, or fill-in over plucked brows," Nadia explained.
So, what exactly is microblading?
Microblading is an embroidery of small, precise strokes that mimic the effect of real hairs, and uses a special microblading pen to individually draw on the strokes. Unsurprisingly, the technique’s unparalleled natural finish has made its popularity skyrocket in recent months. If you're still not sure how the technique differs from tattooing, Nadia explained that "during the microblading process we use a special microblading pen to draw on individual strokes one by one." It's an extremely meticulous process that takes around two hours to complete.
How do we find someone to trust our brows with?
Betsy couldn't stress the importance enough of doing your research and finding the best possible technician near you. 'A well-established, experienced technician should have all appropriate licenses and certificates,' she says. 'I would recommend checking if the technician has previous photos of their work with reputable contacts. They should also be able to willingly answer all of the client’s questions, and offer as much information about the procedure from start to finish. And of course, it should always be performed in a clean, sterile environment.' Nadia says to avoid anywhere offering express microblading: "It's not a rushed procedure, it cannot be done in an hour."
Is there any prep-work we need to do?
Leading up to your appointment, you should avoid plucking or waxing your brows because your technician will be making your new brow shape based on current measurements they’ll make before starting the procedure. You should also avoid using exfoliators 72 hours before the application, like any skincare products containing glycolic acid, retinol, and alpha hydroxy acids, since they may inflame the skin, and taking medications such as blood thinners. 'The goal is for the skin to be as insensitive to the procedure as possible to limit bleeding,' says Betsy. 'Pregnant, breastfeeding, and diabetic clients should avoid the procedure all together.'
Right, once we're all ready and in the chair, what will the process be like?
First of all, your technician will spend some time mapping out your brows. "The first hour we’re drawing the shape in with removable pencil," says Nadia. "That’s the longest part and the most important step. During this time, the best customised shape for every client is chosen." Your brow shape will be left up to your technician because they measure it based on your face shape and structure so you get the most natural finish, but you should properly communicate with your technician to get your desired fullness. 'The shape of the brow is determined by taking six key measurements on the brow bone using a specialised protractor made for this procedure,' explains Betsy. 'Although I do not allow the client to dictate their shape, they can decide on the thickness of the brow while keeping it at a natural state (not too thick, not too thin). I do have them hold a handheld mirror, so they understand how and why their shape is being made.'
Before the microblading begins, a topical numbing cream is applied to the area to minimize discomfort, followed by a liquid anesthetic. If you're worried that the process is painful, Nadia assures, "some clients may feel a slight discomfort, but it's relatively painless." After making small hairlike incisions into your brows, extra dye is often swashed over the area and left to sit, before being wiped away, revealing your brand new brows.
You may expect thick brows that rival Cara Delevingne’s, but it might take a few appointments before you reach your ideal brows. 'You should keep in mind that microblading is a two-step process and it is not permanent, and you shouldn’t expect to see full results after only one treatment,' explains Betsy. 'The strokes are very sharp initially, but will soften and migrate into the skin over time. You should take into consideration that different skin types also factor into results. Excessively oily skin, larger pores, thicker skin and eyebrow keratosis can affect the absorption of the pigment.'
What about after-care?
The best part about the technique is that there's no down time. Your new set of brows will be ready for a selfie immediately after the process. The pros, however, do recommend a follow-up one month after your appointment. "The healing process is different for everyone, and it takes between 25 and 30 days. After a month we recommend a 40-minute touch-up to most customers,' says Nadia.
Once you have your ideal brows, it’s only natural you’ll want to show them off. However, avoid using skin care products and makeup on the area for a minimum of ten days following the application—or touch the area at all. 'Picking, peeling and scratching of the area should be avoided at all costs except for when rinsing and applying the post-care cream (which is client-specific) with a cotton swab,' says Betsyi. Other things to avoid: Tanning, direct sunlight, swimming, increased sweating, and exercising for up to 10 days following the procedure. Once you’re healed, Shuki recommends applying a layer of SPF 30-50 sunscreen on your brows before heading out in the sun to prevent fading.
How long will they last?
Although some people like to get a touch-up every 30 days, Shuki suggests doing it annually since depending on how your skin heals, the results can last from eight to 18 months. £500 for a year and a half of perfect, smudge-proof brows? Seems worth it to us.