As many a Kardashian-Jenner has more or less declared, we’re living in the age of the thick, dark, and lustrous brow. Gone are the days of the tweezers, pencil-thin brows of 90s-era Drew Barrymore, and hello to the au-natural look of Cara Delevingne, right? But, what is microblading, exactly? And is it for you?
(Well…we’ll get to that later.) But, while the thick brow might be championed as a look that’s wholly natural, it doesn’t mean all of us are blessed with the above-eye facial hair of many a Lily Collins, JD Samson or Solange Knowles. Some of us prefer to splurge on makeup, and some of us go a different route. Enter: microblading.
Unlike other, less-permanent eyebrow treatments like plucking, waxing, or threading, microblading carries the weight of perpetuity. As a permanent cosmetic procedure, these brows, like diamonds, are forever. And, as a relatively recent trend in the U.S., it also comes with its share of risks. So, what are the pros, and more importantly, the cons?
Luckily, there’s no need to stress: let NYGal, with the help of a bonafide expert from one of New York City’s hottest salons, give you the lowdown on all you need to know about microblading.
What Is Microblading Of The Eyebrows?
For the uninitiated, the term “microblading” refers to a permanent cosmetic technique in which designs that resemble natural eyebrow hair are tattooed onto the skin, most commonly on a designated brow area.
Even though it’s called microblading, in no way is anything resembling a knife or scalpel involved: instead of a blade, a tool with a row of sharp needles is drawn across the skin in short but deliberate strokes, resulting in fine, paper-thin cuts imbued with pigment.
When these cuts heal, the outcome resembles fine, deliberate lines that resemble hair. All of this is done in an effort to thicken appearance without making them look like the avenging, demented ghost of Joan Crawford took an ancient sharpie to their face.
While it is generally considered a form of tattoo artistry, microblading differs from the average tat in a number of ways.
The main ones are these: microblading is done manually, as opposed to with your run-of-the-mill ink gun; pigment deposits are made in the upper register of the dermis, as opposed to regular tats; and microblading requires training distinctly different from that of your standard tattoo artist from the local parlor.
See Also: Can Microblading Put You at Risk for HIV?
A Quick History Of Microblading
While the specific origins of microblading might be a bit of a mystery––many assert that the technique was popularized roughly 25 years ago in Japan, while some contest its methodology is purely Chinese––what is definitely for certain is that up until recently, there was no standardization for the technique whatsoever. For some, this meant the desired effect could go horribly awry.
“I was fascinated by the practice, but appalled by the level of artistry which was then the standard,” said Jeffery Lyle Segal, a professional makeup artist and microblader from NYC’s premier Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa, whose past clientele has everyone from “housewives to Oprah,” in an exclusive interview with NYGal.
Segal, a leading member of the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (SPCP)––an organization comprised of veteran movers and shakers dedicated to procedure standardization industry-wide––first became aware of the lack of a trade-specific rubric in the early ’90s.
“The field was dominated by medical people and other non-artists,” continued Segal, who got his start as a theatrical makeup artist. “So it was really the blind leading the blind.”
With the help of SPCP, Segal was one of the pioneering forces behind the creation of training programs specific to the esthetics of permanent makeup.
So standardization means no sweat, right? Not exactly.
Nowadays, certification amongst microbladers is less of an exception and more the rule––but it doesn’t mean that every microblader has it.
According to an expose on the dark side of microblading published by The New York Post earlier 2018, artists with little and even no training can still wield a needle, causing unfortunate––and even dangerous––outcomes, ranging from uneven shaping to scarring.
One New Yorker, a New Jersey-based event planner named Arlinda Balidemaj, relayed a typical microblading horror story to NYPost:
“I went to a local hair salon for microblading and I didn’t like the shape,’’ Balidemaj says. “Then the color started to fade into a weird brown. I hated it and was really upset, so I went to Sania’s Brow Bar [in Chelsea] and Sania [Vucetaj] showed me how to camouflage it with a pencil.’’
Vucetaj, who has been tending to the brows of stars such as Hoda Kotb for more than 20 years, discourages her clients from microblading. “If it goes wrong, you are stuck with the shape forever because it never fully fades and leaves an unattractive discoloration.’’Arlinda Balidemaj
Would-be clients, however, have more to worry about than comical eyebrow mishaps that won’t quit. As an Australian woman named Amanda Coats New York Post earlier 2018, customers also run the risk of severe infection under the wrong hands:
“I ended up with a severe infection from clinic and the skin was just falling away and my eyes blew up,” […] the eyebrow specialist was very “rushed, going in and out of the room attending to other clients during my procedure and also doing another eyebrow tattoo at the same time,” and that she didn’t switch into new gloves in between clients.
The area around her eyebrows swelled, getting redder and more inflamed by the day, until the skin on her face eventually peeled off onto her pillow. “My eyes were so swollen I couldn’t drive…I couldn’t even take my children to school because of the swelling, the pain, and the pus in my eyes.”
But, fear not: potential acolytes should not be deterred. Under the right hands, the procedure is as safe as any other technique of a similar caliber. All it takes is equipping yourself with the right questions to ask.
Almost anyone can pretend to be an expert. ”It’s up to you, the consumer, to decide if they are telling the truth or not.”
So, if you’re considering microblading your brows, what do you need to know?
Is Microblading For You?
Before you start looking up which professional you want to do your work, potential customers need to know if their skin is durable enough for the procedure in the first place––but not too durable.
While most are, there are some rare exceptions, namely clients with very thin or vascular skin are ”likely to bleed excessively and won’t get the best results,” Segal relayed, and those “with thick, oily skins…may see the hair strokes blur together more when they heal.”
Segal stressed that each and every prospective client should do their homework on whether microblading is the right fit––starting with the technician they’re booking with.
For starters, ask if they are a member of a recognized industry organization. (The major two are SPCP and the American Academy of Micropigmentation, so if either of those names pops up, rest assured.)
If they aren’t, then you should consider it a big, walloping red flag; the growing prominence of microblading has lead to a number of two-day seminars parading as training programs who “[crank] out undertrained people with no other experience.” Knowing which programs are legit can be the difference between a success story and a disaster.
“Look at photos of their other clients,” urged Segal. “Don’t expect to look better than they do. Ask them to preview the results with conventional makeup. If they can’t apply conventional makeup that looks natural, don’t expect their tattooing to look any better.”
Merely A Trend?
But, even if you find a lauded microblader to do your brows, it’s still a permanent procedure. If the thick brow is simply a trend, is it still a good idea?
After all, many are quickly praising––or inevitability recognizing––the revival of the thin brow. Take The Cut’s Helena Fitzgerald, for instance. As evidence, Fitzgerald pointed out UK Vogue’s cover for their September issue, which featured pop-icon Rihana rocking a retro, attenuated look.
“Everyone who is younger and more current than I am will have gone back to skinny hyper-plucked brows,” she lamented. “Cara [Delevingne] won’t have any brows at all, probably.” (The horror, the horror!)
More Than Makeup
Segal, however, disagrees. To him, microblading is more than a service for the rich and famous. Regardless of whether it’s a trend or not, there will always be people who will seek out the service. For that clientele base, it’s for a lot more than a superficial craze.
“It’s not just about beauty––It’s about improving the quality of people’s lives,” said Segal. “I help people who can’t see well, can’t do their own makeup because of physical disabilities.”
Among them are people who suffer from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss, and breast cancer survivors.
“I’m proudest of my work with the alopecia community, all of whom have lost brows and lashes…to help them feel like themselves again,” he explained. “My work simulating the nipple and areola complex for breast cancer survivors helps women feel whole and healthy again.”
All in all, it doesn’t matter whether fashionistas and members of the glitterati keep contributing to the microblading industrial complex. Microblading isn’t about what’s in vogue or what isn’t. It’s about those who feel like microblading aids in boosting their self-confidence and self-esteem.
“I like to say I’m making the world a better place, one eyebrow at a time,” he concluded.
Microblading Everything You Need to Know Before Your Appointment
Microblading is a semi-permanent tattooing technique that involves the use of tiny needles to create strokes on the face, which are then blended together to form a natural-looking design. The strokes can be used to add depth and dimension to your eyebrows or even as an alternative to traditional eyebrow pencils.
Microblading is one of the most popular types of permanent makeup in Australia with many women choosing it for its versatility and long-lasting results. It’s also great if you have thinning hair around your brow line and want to hide this area.
The process itself takes about an hour and a half and requires two appointments. During the first appointment, your skin will be prepared by removing any unwanted hairs from around your eyes and applying numbing cream. This helps reduce discomfort during the procedure.
The second appointment will see your eyebrows being microbladed using small needles. Once the design has been completed, it will need to be ‘freshened up to ensure it looks natural. This means adding more color and blending out any areas that may not look right.
You should expect some swelling after each session but this usually subsides within 24 hours. If you do experience pain, you can take over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
Aftercare: After every session, you must avoid touching your new tattoo. This includes washing your hands before eating. Avoid rubbing your eyes or nose and keep away from water.
Does microblading require aftercare?
Yes, aftercare is required to maintain the appearance of your tattoo. A few days after your treatment, you will notice redness and slight swelling. This will subside as your skin heals. To maintain the appearance of your new tattoo, you will need to apply a moisturizing lotion twice daily until your next scheduled appointment.
Who is a good candidate for microblading?
If you are considering having microblading done, there are several things you should consider. Firstly, you should only get this type of tattoo if you are happy with the way you currently look. If you are unhappy with the shape of your eyebrows, you won’t achieve the best possible result.
Secondly, you should choose a reputable salon where that offers a full range of treatments including laser therapy. Laser therapy is recommended because it removes pigment and promotes healing.
Finally, you should make sure you’re healthy enough to undergo the procedure. Make sure you don’t have any medical conditions that could affect your skin, such as psoriasis, eczema, or rosacea. These conditions can cause inflammation and scarring.
Who is Microblading for?
Microblading is ideal for people who want to enhance their facial features without going under the knife. It’s also suitable for those who want to cover scars or other imperfections on their faces.
It’s important to note that microblading isn’t appropriate for everyone. You shouldn’t get it if you have very sensitive skin, or if you have had previous tattoos or piercings.
Are there different techniques and approaches to Microblading?
There are three main ways to approach microblading. The first is known as traditional microblading. In this technique, you’ll use a needle to draw individual strokes across your face. The second method is known as freehand microblading. Here, the artist will create a design using a brushstroke technique. Finally, the third method is known as airbrush microblading. With this technique, the artist uses a spray gun to deposit pigment onto your skin.
How many sessions do I need for a new set of Microbladed eyebrows?
The number of sessions needed depends on the size of your brows. Generally speaking, one session per month is sufficient to maintain the appearance of a new set of brows. However, you might need two or even three sessions in order to achieve the desired effect.
How do I maintain my new microbladed brows?
To maintain the appearance of your newly microbladed brows, you’ll need to apply a moisturizer twice daily until your next appointment. Your new brows may be slightly swollen at first, but this will subside within a couple of days.
Microblading Health Risks
As with any cosmetic procedure, there are risks involved with microblading. Some of these include:
• Skin irritation
• Nerve damage
• Burn marks
• Hormonal changes
• Hair loss
• Permanent hair growth
• Stretch marks
• Tattooing over existing tattoos
• Unwanted darkening of the skin
In some cases, complications can occur after the procedure. For example, an infection can lead to permanent scarring. This occurs when bacteria enter the body through an open wound. As a result, the area becomes inflamed and red.
Can you be allergic to microblading?
While most people aren’t allergic to the ink used in microblading, some individuals are. If you think you’ve developed an allergy, contact your doctor immediately. He or she can prescribe medication to help alleviate symptoms.
How much does microblading cost?
The price of microblading varies depending on where you live. Typically, prices range from $2,000 to $4,000. Of course, this price includes both the initial consultation and the entire process.
Q: What is Microblading?
A: Microblading is a popular way to add dimension to your brows. Using a fine-tipped pen, artists draw lines across your brows to give them more shape and definition.
Q: How long does microblading take?
A: Depending on how thick your brows are, the length of time required to complete the procedure ranges between 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Q: Can I get microblading done during a vacation?
A: Yes! Many clients elect to get their microblading done while they’re away from home so that it doesn’t interfere with their busy schedules.
Q: Is microblading painful?
A: While some clients experience mild discomfort, others feel no pain whatsoever. Most clients report feeling pressure and warmth during the procedure.
Q: Will microblading fade?
A: No. It’s important to note that microblading lasts up to 12 months. You won’t have to worry about fading because your brows will remain perfectly defined.
Q: Does microblading require anesthesia?
A: Not typically, although some clients choose to receive local anesthesia for added comfort.
Q: Do I need to shave my eyebrows before getting microblading?
A: Shaving your brows prior to receiving microblading helps ensure that the artist has enough space to work without having to make multiple passes. However, shaving isn’t necessary if your brows are already well-groomed.
Q: How often should I get microblading?
A: The frequency of appointments depends on several factors including the thickness of your brows, the number of strokes applied, and the type of pigment used. In general, you’ll want to visit your practitioner every 3 to 4 weeks.
Q: Are there any side effects associated with getting microblading?
A: Some common side effects include swelling, bruising, itching, and minor bleeding. These side effects usually go away within 24 to 48 hours.
Q: What happens if I develop an infection after microblading?
A: An infection can cause permanent scarring. To prevent this, it’s essential to keep your skin clean and dry following your appointment. Also, don’t pick at your brows until they heal completely.
Q: Should I wear makeup right after getting microbladed?
A: Yes. Your brows may look slightly swollen initially, but this will subside as your skin begins to heal. Makeup shouldn’t be worn for at least 10 days following the procedure.
Q. Where do I find a good microblading provider?
A: Finding a qualified microblading professional can be challenging. This is why we recommend visiting our page dedicated to finding a great microblading salon near you.
Q: How much does microblading cost?
A: Prices vary based on location, whether or not you receive local anesthesia, and the number of sessions needed. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300-$500 per session.
Q: How many times can I get microblading in one year?
A: As mentioned above, the frequency of visits depends on the thickness of your brow hair and the number of strokes
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