Guest Post: Is Microblading Worth It to Enhance Your Brows?

Is Microblading Worth It? Guest Post from Blue Collar Red LipstickAdina J. of Blue Collar Red Lipstick is one of my favorite work style bloggers and Instagrammers (and she’s a lawyer!) so I was excited to see that a) she’d written about her experience with microblading on her blog and then b) agreed to share it with us since I knew a lot of people were curious about whether microblading was worth it after our post on beauty treatments to save time.  Readers, have you tried microblading, or are you considering it? Have you used other things to enhance your brows, like growth serums or brow tinting (either salon or DIY methods)? HUGE thanks to Adina for sharing her microblading experience with us — and a warm welcome to Corporette! — Kat  

If you have more than a passing acquaintance with Instagram, then you have probably seen something about #microblading. And if you are anything like me — 30-something, with enough disposable income to satisfy my social media–driven curiosity about strange beauty trends — then you’ve probably considered trying it. If that’s the case, you probably have questions. I know I did. Having now gone through the experience, I can tell you that the answers I found online in my initial searches contained some glaring omissions. I’m going to try to address some of them.

Just in case you have not seen one of the bazillion Instagram videos floating around, let’s start with the basics. Microblading is the newest version of tattoo makeup. Unlike the regular tattoo process, which uses a needle (or needles), microblading uses tiny blades to create cuts in the skin, into which pigment is deposited. Each cut is intended to look like an individual eyebrow hair. The result is semi-permanent, lasting anywhere from one to three years. It is not an inexpensive procedure; at my spa, the cost was $375 for the original appointment plus the necessary follow-up, and this is on the lower end of the cost scale based on quotes I’ve seen online (for example, Piret Aava, the “Eyebrow Doctor,” charges $1,500 in NYC).

Now, a bit about me. I am very, very fair with very, very blonde eyebrows and eyelashes. As far as my eyebrows go, their relative (in)visibility is not helped by the over-plucking sins of my youth. I have been penciling in my eyebrows for as long as I can remember, and it might be surprising to some — those blessed with perfectly abundant, visible, and well-behaved eyebrows — how much of a hassle it is and how awful it feels to look in the bathroom mirror one afternoon and realize that you have been walking around the office for God knows how long with half an eyebrow missing. Those of you who know that pain should not be surprised to hear that I jumped on the microblading train as soon as I discovered that the spa attached to my dermatologist’s office offered the service. I recommend choosing qualifications over price when you’re shopping around for a microblading procedure; you’re going to be wearing the results on your face for some time, and there is plenty of room for error, as some of the online “after” photos prove.

Microblading: First Appointment

Here is what you should know about the procedure. At the first appointment, the aesthetician measures and sketches your “new” eyebrows to ensure they are symmetrical and suit your face. Next, they select the best colour of pigment for your complexion. This was my biggest issue with microblading, and I will come back to it in a moment. After the eyebrow region is numbed with topical numbing cream, the microblading begins. It takes about 1–1.5 hours for the blading part, including the bit where you sit with pigment on your face, looking like one of the lost Marx brothers. In total, the entire first appointment took about 3.5 hours. I found the pain to be quite tolerable — akin to eyebrow threading, for example — but this is a very subjective judgment, of course. The photo below shows: (1) before, without makeup, (2) before, with makeup, and (3) immediately after my first appointment. 

microblading

Healing Process for Microblading

My eyebrows looked fantastic immediately after the procedure was over; there was no real recovery time. The skin around my eyebrows was a little bit red immediately after, but nothing that would, ahem, raise an eyebrow at work. It wasn’t until four to five days into the healing process that I began to understand why microblading is a two-step process. As the skin underneath my eyebrows began to flake off (which is a normal part of healing), a substantial amount of the pigment came off with it. The flaking itself wasn’t painful or particularly noticeable; the ointment I was given to apply regularly following the initial two-day dry-healing process helped keep my eyebrows from looking too rough during this period.

I had been warned to expect some colour fading following the initial appointment, but what I actually experienced was more significant than what I had anticipated. After about two weeks, my eyebrows were at least 70% lighter than immediately after the original procedure; in fact, they did not look significantly different than prior to the microblading. I spoke with my aesthetician, who assured me this was normal and that it would be fixed at my follow-up appointment. Still, it is something to keep in mind; once the flaking was done and my skin looked to be back to normal, I started using an eyebrow pencil to fill in some of the more obvious “blanks.”

Follow-up Appointment

The procedure at the second appointment was very similar to the first, though it took less time overall — about 2.5 hours. I did tell the aesthetician at that time that I preferred darker eyebrows, and she switched my pigment from a mix of light and medium ash brown, to medium ash brown only. However, she was reluctant to go any darker because of my fairness, and given that she would have no way of fixing overly dark results, I didn’t press the issue, though in retrospect, I wish I had. As before, my eyebrows looked great immediately following the procedure, with no real downtime. The healing process was also faster and resulted in much less pigment loss.

microblading

I am generally quite happy with my ultimate results — the photo above was taken two months after my second appointment — but I do wish my eyebrows were a tad darker. I do touch up the ends a tiny bit with an eyebrow pencil most days to make them stand out a little more. Even so, the procedure has cut down on my daily eyebrow-tending time, which is a considerable bonus for a busy working parent. Moreover, it has ensured that I have nice, symmetrical eyebrows all day, every day, and it makes maintenance (plucking, threading) much easier by giving me a good template from which to work. It remains to be seen how long the results will last; my skin tends to heal Wolverine-fast, so I have a feeling these eyebrows won’t “stick” around for the full three years. However, if I can get even a couple of years out of it, I’m ready to call microblading a success.

Have you had your brows microbladed, or are you looking into having it done? Do you know someone who’s had a good or bad experience with it? If you’ve had it done yourself, was your experience similar to Adina’s, and were you happy with the results? How long did they last? Would you do it again? Any advice to share with other readers?

Comments

  1. Anonymous :

    Radical idea- wear your face the way it comes, give none f’s about your eyebrows, spend that money on rosé

    • Also Anon :

      +1

    • Radical idea – move on from posts that don’t interest you and resist the urge to leave snarky comments.

    • Anonymous :

      What a bitter, judgmental comment.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Some people find makeup (and related things) fun and satisfying! Some people find drinking wine fun and satisfying! For a real good time, may I recommend drinking wine and playing with makeup with your friends?

    • Linda from HR :

      If someone wants to give a fork about her eyebrows, let her give all the forks she wants, they’re HER eyebrows! Personally, I just pluck mine myself, if I had the money for microblading I’d probably spend it on getting my acne scars lazered off instead, but that’s me.

      BUT I do agree we should stop judging other women’s facial flaws, and pressuring women to spend a forkton of money on trying to look perfect all the time.

    • My face has changed since getting cancer and then resulting thyroid issues. Each morning I get up and put on makeup nearly first thing to hide what illness has done to my face. I can’t hide the scars that exist elsewhere. Something like this gives me hope that I could feel comfortable swimming or working out without having to put on makeup. Maybe I could feel comfortable in my face as is but people comment, they question, they make me uncomfortable. Microblading will be worth it as soon as I find a local artist who does a style I like.

    • meh. I love looking pretty. Feeling attractive when I walk out the door in the morning, plus all the benefits in society that accrue to attractive people, are worth any number of bottles of rose to me. I’ll spend time and money on beauty because it makes my life better. You spend your time and money on wine instead. We can live together in harmony.

  2. Aunt Jamesina :

    I think it’s interesting, but most of the eyebrows I’ve seen look way overdone. I have pretty sparse (though not thin) brows, and I think I’ll stick with my routine of taking 10 seconds to apply my Anastasia brow powder and tweezing strays.

    • Anonymous :

      They look so fake and overdone!

      • Aunt Jamesina :

        Yeah, I don’t know the whole process and Lord knows I have no business tattooing, but I don’t understand why they all have such obvious vertical lines to mimic eyebrow hairs.

        • I think the vertical lines are less noticeable in the picture from the aftermath of the second appointment. My eyebrows naturally have the shape (although I get strays to pluck). I find them really flattering and natural -looking on Adina.

      • Sick of Eyebrow Trends :

        Yeah, this. I am really really into makeup and beauty products, but aside from plucking strays/dealing with things like unibrows, I never understood messing with eyebrows. Maybe eyebrow powder if yours are a bit sparse. Ok fine.

        Many of the eyebrows on trend now including the result from most microblading look like oddly geometric caterpillars that are taking over women’s faces. Don’t get me started on feathered brows. And the overly plucked/waxed eyebrows of the 2000 were absurb. Just seems like one of many ways to get women to waste money and not improve their appearance.

      • I have somewhat sparse eyebrows, to the point where I get them waxed/shaped once a year or so. A few weeks ago I went to my guy for a wax, and afterwards he colored in my eyebrows. They looked exactly like Adina’s. I was horrified! It just looked so fake and overdone. He did a great job with the wax but I was glad that I could go home and immediately wash that off.

    • I think it’s hard to judge close-up photos, which is often the case with microblading. But I have to agree I am not a huge fan of the look on most people and find it skews a bit too Kardashian in its aesthetic. The only person whose results I’ve liked has been Lena Dunham.

      That said, I have fairly decent eyebrows without too much intervention, so I try to not judge others’ choices with respect to their features if this an area that concerns them and doesn’t come naturally.

  3. Thanks for this post! I have been keen to try microblading. Years of youthful and regrettable tweezing have left me with thin and uneven eyebrows which take substantial amount of time every morning to fix. Anyone has recommendations for a well-reputed microblading salon in the DC area?

    • Dollistic! I had mine done there, and they turned out really well. They’re not cheap, but they’re really good.

  4. I have been reading comments about microblading here for a while with no idea what it is. Happy to find out it is a treatment completely unsuitable for my eyebrow woes, so one I can now ignore. I do like the results in the picture, though without seeing the full face I can’t really tell if I like the full effect. I may disagree as to the depth of color, but that is personal to the wearer.

  5. Senior Attorney :

    My issue with this is that it’s permanent, and trends in eyebrows change. Remember the bushy eyebrows of the 80s? (No? Just me? Well, then.) I’d hate to be stuck with 2017 eyebrows forever.

    • Aunt Jamesina :

      YES. This is a trend I really don’t want to commit to. The other awful end of the spectrum were all the super thin eyebrows from the 90s. Once you go that thin, it’s hard to get them to grow back.

    • I don’t think it’s forever, though. They say 1-3 years.

    • Hah yes Brooke Shields eyebrows… forever!

    • In her post she says it lasts 1-3 years, but I’m sure there are permanent options too.

      I enjoy reading Adina’s blog, happy to see her on featured here!

    • She very clearly states that the procedure is semi-permanent. The brows honestly start fading after about a year and, if you want to maintain the original look, you have to get yearly touchups. I know, mine are microbladed.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Gah. Reading comprehension fail.

      Carry on. Nothing to see here…

      • I think it’s still a point to consider. Semi permanent is still semi permanent and as we all know from tweezing and dying our hair and a million other things, eventually things can still take a toll. Hence, the need for microblading now for people who want fuller eyebrows (which are in now) after over tweezing their eye brows in the 90s when thin eyebrows were all the rage.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      This is fascinating to me because we ARE talking about a tattoo here. I guess it’s possible that the ink goes in less deeply or something so that it fades faster? Maybe it’s like feet and hands where there’s a lot of movement/contact so skin regenerates more and things fade faster? (My tattoo science knowledge is pretty thin.) But still, that’s a face tattoo! What if I change my mind?! (No shade on tattoos, saving up for my next one, but not on my eyebrows.)

      • The blade does not go as deep into the skin as a tattoo needle, and the ink is a bit different, which is why it fades away over time. As long as you like the brows for 1 to 3 yrs, you should be fine. It is literally like a scrape that healed over ink. The cuts are more shallow than a cat scratch.

    • I remember the 80s (and the 70s and there are photos to prove it).

  6. I have been considering this. I have sparse eyebrows as a result of heredity and lifelong thyroid issues. But I don’t like the drawn-on-with-a-sharpie eyebrow look that seems to be popular now. I’m hoping as this trend matures, there will be more artists who are interested in a really natural look.

    Eyebrows do frame the face and most faces look better with a defined brow.

    • Anonymous :

      “Better.” You say that like it is an objective fact. It is not.

      • go away. I don’t know why you have such issues with this topic, but you might try therapy

        • Aunt Jamesina :

          Let’s ALL get therapy! Therapy for everyone!

          • Senior Attorney :

            Woo hoo! Therapy party!!

          • Rainbow Hair :

            …but like, probably the world actually would be a better place if most people had access to therapy/therapy-like-stuff, with a competent person. <3 u, therapy-ie.

          • Linda from HR :

            YOU get a therapist, YOU get a therapist, EVERYBODY GETS A THERAPIIIIIST!

            -crowd cheers-

            Come to think of it, this does sound like a thing Oprah would do

          • Senior Attorney :

            I had brunch with a bunch of therapists a couple of Sundays ago. It was pretty great. Especially with all the sparkling rose…

        • Anonymous :

          Dunno maybe because CUTTING YOUR FACE OPEN WITH A BLADE for the sake of eyebrows is INSANE. We should all be horrified.

          • Can't agree more! :

            +1

          • Maudie Atkinson :

            I think what you meant to say is “Good for her, not for me.”
            It’s no more insane that pierced ears or noses, for example, which are widely acceptable over many cultures and have been so across many generations: no functional purpose to those modifications, only cosmetic. You don’t have to want it, but the sanctimoniousness–particularly the anonymous sanctimoniousness–about those who elect to do these things is pretty gross.

          • nasty woman :

            I know rite? When I was a pre-teen, my parents took me to this depraved bastion of consumer-driven excess (‘the mall,’ they said) and cut holes STRAIGHT THROUGH MY EARS. And do you know CPS didn’t even do ANYTHING?!!

            The bloodshed, the carnage; sometimes I still can’t sleep at night.

            Hold me.

          • Anonymous :

            Nope. Meant to say it’s horrifying that we are normalizing this.

          • Anonymama :

            Normalizing tattoos? Lady, that ship has sailed.

          • Shopaholic :

            It’s not horrifying that this is normalized – it’s an optional procedure that you don’t have to undergo but there’s nothing wrong with someone wanting to microblade their eyebrows. Just like there’s nothing wrong with someone doing botox. Or putting makeup on. Or piercing their ears.

            I don’t know why you’re so judgey but why does the beauty procedures other women want to engage in bother you?

          • Rainbow Hair :

            but also “blade” is a bit of a misnomer — it’s just a bunch of tattoo needles arranged in a line.

          • Linda from HR :

            No, you’re paying a trained professional to do that. Sheesh, no one tell this woman about plastic surgery, she might lose her damn mind.

          • Well if we’re going to be pedantic (which I am about to do), humans have been doing all kinds of crazy and dangerous shit through the entirety of written human history in order to decorate their bodies and make themselves look “pretty” either for themselves or to attract someone. So… This is just the current trend. This isn’t a new level of depravity. It’s also not really cutting your face open with a blade.

          • Senior Attorney :

            And don’t tell the OP about people INJECTING DEADLY POISON into their faces!! OH NOES!!!!

          • Don’t should all over us, please. Get a grip.

      • Anonymous :

        It really bothers me that you posted this in reply to someone who has had thyroid issues. I have had thyroid issues, and I know what my eyebrows looked like before I spent a few years under medicated. Is there something so terribly wrong with wanting to restore my appearance along with the rest of my health?

        BTW, I had never messed w/my eyebrows before I got sick, and I fully support people’s decisions to leave them alone. But that has nothing to do with looking down on people who think they can, indeed, make their faces look better (whether they are upgrading or whether they are simply trying to look like themselves again).

      • Because it is. Doing absolutely nothing to your brows is unacceptable. When you look at a face you expect features such as eyebrows and lips to be visible. For those that have to draw on eyebrows, tattooing = freedom. I only need a tinted brow mascara and some tweezing to define mine.

    • Each artist has their own aesthetic. My microblading artist started her practice on cancer patients and alopecia patients, so she favors ultra realistic brows that start out sparse on the bottom and front of the brows and get a tad bit thicker on top. Others specifically advertise different styles such as “instagram brows”, “natural brows”, “fluffy brows”, and “makeup pencil brows” depending on the look you want.

      Looking at the microblader’s portfolio and ratings is the number 1 thing to make sure the results look good.

    • Anonymous :

      I was considering it and actually got it done. I figure it’s like a semi-permanent tattoo that makes my daily routine faster and makes people think I look more “put together”.

      I told my aesthetician (sp?) that I wanted a natural look and she did it in a way that people don’t actually notice that I got it done. I also told her I don’t care if it fades fast, I just don’t want it to be ridiculous.

      I have the glossier boy brow and the pencil, but for everyday, I’m just not as fastidious about my brow as I am about sunscreen, so the microblading was a positive addition for me.

      I also get my hair japanese straightened twice a year since I like the blow dry look but don’t like to actually blow dry.

    • I also have thyroid issues, and my eyebrows are practically invisible (especially in contrast with my dark hair.)
      I’ve been getting my brows microbladed for a few years now.
      I chose an artist with experience in medical tattooing; I figured if she can create a realistic-looking “nipple” on a mastectomy patient’s breast, then she should be able to give me natural-looking brows. I ended up with brows that are so realistic, even my mother didn’t realize I’d had them done.
      I’m extremely happy with the results. They are not permanent – they fade naturally, and I get touch-ups once a year or so.
      So yes, we’ve all seen the scary fake Kardashian brows, and nobody wants to look like that. But if done by a talented, experienced artist, microblading can be life-changing.

  7. I use a tiny bit of haircolor (I use a women’s type, but several on the site swear by Just for Men since it doesn’t drip) on my brows every two-three weeks. I think it gives a really natural look – my brows seem sparse otherwise, but it turns out I have a lot of clear/pale brow hairs that this method catches. I think my brows are too light for my hair color so I go a couple shades darker than my hair, but you could easily match your normal brown color. My daily routine now consists of combing my brows when I remember to do it.

    • Will you share which women’s product you like? I’m considering this (I don’t want to keep spending $ on a salon tint for brows, though I’m not brave enough to do my own lashes).

      • Honestly, whatever brand is on sale. I think I’ve been happiest with Garnier Nutrisse permanent color, but I’ve used several brands/formulas. The ones advertised as “no drip” seem to be easier to deal with, but they all fade in a couple weeks.

  8. Aunt Jamesina :

    Adina, I LOVE your blog and you have the most beautiful eyes. Thank you for sharing!

  9. I shaved off a quarter of my eyebrow in middle school. It never grew back right. I’ve been looking at microblading, but I’ve been such a chicken with my eyebrows ever since.

    I use Glossier’s boy brow right now, which makes it look normal. That little bottle seriously works magic!

    • KateMiddletown :

      Is Glossier only sold on their own site? I realllly want to get some of that boy brow. Using ELF powder kit right now and it’s such a time suck (don’t @ me Anon.)

      • KateMiddletown :

        I didn’t mean you @Anon, I meant the cranky Anons that seem to be all over the comments today. Sry!

    • Why is it that the hair you wan’t to come back doesn’t and the hair you don’t want to come back does?

    • pugsnbourbon :

      When I was a kid, my dad would cut my (pioneer-style) bangs using a piece of tape and his beard trimmer. No idea why he insisted on doing that.

      But after he took a chunk out of my eyebrow that job went back to my mother. Bless me, I thought it looked cool and edgy (I was maybe eight?)

  10. Oooh, I don’t think I’m brave enough to do this. It’s too permanent for my tastes.

    I am sort of bummed that my previously thick brows seem to be getting thinner and lighter as I enter my late ’30s, but that’s what brow mascara is for. Even then, I always worry that it looks too obvious. The super-prominent, sculpted brow just isn’t my deal, although I like it on others.

    • I’m trying to switch from eyebrow tinting to eyebrow mascara. I think I need a mascara that’s a little more obvious, actually, than the one I’m using! Do you have a recommendation?

  11. Overplucked my brows in the 90s :

    I had microblading done a year ago – if you have really oily skin (like I do), your brows will fade pretty quickly – I am definitely going to get a touch up at the one year mark. Also, like Adina, my brow lady didn’t want me to go too dark but unlike her I didn’t push back at the follow up appointment and ask to go darker. I wish I had.

  12. I’ve been thinking about having this done but just can’t justify the cost. I’m also very fair, and my eyebrows are actually completely colorless. I’ve tried dying them, but they won’t hold the pigment. I actually like their shape and thickness, they’re just completely invisible without makeup. But then, a $20 tube of Boy Brow lasts me months and only takes 30 seconds in the morning to apply, and $375 (at the low end!) for microblading that might only last a year is just too much green to justify.

  13. Anonymous :

    No shade on Adina, but this is just too permanent. Makeup trends change, and you don’t want to be stuck with last year’s look.

  14. I love Adina’s blog, so this was a cool post to read. Unlike a lot of people though, my brows are not at all sparse. For how fair I am, they’re really pretty dark and bushy and they get unibrow-ish if left unchecked. I can’t stand plucking so I get them threaded once a month. I do often feel bad about spending the time and $ on it each month, and keep telling the place that does my brows that “no I do not want my lip done” – ugh just leave me alone, I don’t need another thing to worry about.

  15. My microbladed eyebrows are fantastic. I get compliments on them all the time. Before I got them I was essentially eyebrowless, thanks to years of overplucking, plus my brow color and my hair color looked weird together. I drew eyebrows on every day (and tried many different pencils, gels, powders, creams, and other forms of eyebrow cosmetic products), and I hated how long it took and the fact that I needed to touch them up throughout the day because that area of my face is a bit oily and my eyebrows would start sliding off after a few hours. I measured the cost of the microblading against the money I was spending on eyebrow products, the time I was spending using them (several minutes every morning, plus touch-up time), the fact that the end-result with the products was never all that great, and the fact that I always had to think about my eyebrows coming off or being smeared across my face when it came to working out or swimming, and found that it was a good investment. The woman who does my brows was able to find a natural, timeless shape that is just right for my face. I’m in my 40s and don’t imagine that I’m going to care much about brow trends in the coming years; I’m just very happy that I have a natural, balanced look.

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