The secret to natural-looking, fuller brows.
Our eyebrow obsession is going nowhere fast, and we’re always on the hunt for new techniques to make sure our eyebrows are on fleek (#sorrynotsorry). Our latest discovery in the quest for perfect, Delevingne-esque brows? Microblading: a new semi-permanent brow technique from Asia promising natural-looking, fuller brows. Intrigued? We’ve answered all the questions you might have about this revolutionary procedure - and debunked some misconceptions - so you can decide whether to blade or not to blade…
What actually is microblading?
Also known as eyebrow embroidery, feathering or microstroking, microblading is a form of permanent make-up. Like other traditional semi-permanent brow treatments, it uses fine lines of tattoo pigments to fill in existing eyebrow hair. Where this technique differs, though, is in its use of a manual pen-like tool with tiny needles, as opposed to a permanent make-up machine. The pigment itself is deposited into the dermis - or superficial layer - of the skin, which means that hairs can be drawn on individually., and with a greater level of control than with a machine. The result is a much subtler, more natural-looking finish.
Does it hurt?
Thought of a needle fill you with fright? Fear not. A numbing cream and liquid anaesthetic is applied to the eyebrow area before the needle gets to work, ensuring it a virtually pain free experience. The needles used are extremely thin in diameter, so shouldn’t cause any 'ouches' when applied by an expert. As Karen Betts, an authority on permanent make-up, puts it 'there's a tiny amount of discomfort but it wouldn't be regarded as pain, rather the feeling of small little surface scratches.' What’s more, the needles are single use, and the brow area will be disinfected beforehand for safe application. Phew.
How long does the treatment take?
One of the main sells of microblading is that it’s such an intricate process, so it’s no surprise to learn that one appointment typically takes around two hours. Speaking to InStyle US, microblading expert Nadia Afanaseva explains that ‘the first hour we’re drawing the shape in with removable pencil. That’s the longest and most important step.’ Your beauty therapist will also take the time to match the colour of the tattoo to that of your natural brows, and customise the hair pattern – which you’ll be able to approve of before they get to work to avoid any nasty surprises. The initial colour of your new brows will be darker than the eventual result, softening to a lighter shade after about two weeks.
Who should choose microblading?
While this may be a life changing treatment for hair loss sufferers, it can be used by pretty much anyone looking to boost or add shape to their natural brows. As Karen explains, it's great for everyone from 'those who don't want to fill in, shape and tint their brows every day, the physically active who don't want to sweat off their make-up, or those who have hair loss and thinning hair.' It’s also the perfect antidote to over-plucking, so, if you over-did it with the tweezers back in the ‘90s, it could be time to book yourself in at your local brow bar.
How much does it cost?
Available at a number of salons across the country, prices start from around £250. As it’s such a permanent solution, we reckon it’s well worth the initial expense – just think of it as an investment for your brows…
What’s the healing process like?
There’s no downtime for microblading, so you can walk out of the salon after treatment and enjoy your Insta-worthy new look. Speaking to US beauty bible Allure, eyebrow artist Piret Aava reveals that the brows should heal fully in around one week (although the process will vary from person to person.) During this time, you’ll need to keep the area as dry as possible – brows can be coated with a protective layer of Vaseline while showering.
What aftercare is needed?
A huge bonus of this treatment is that unlike waxing, semi-permanent tinting or brow extensions, it’s incredibly low maintenance. It’s likely that your therapist will suggest a shorter follow-up appointment, which allows them to fill in any remaining gaps and add a second colour to boost the shape and add dimension to the overall effect (don’t worry, the cost of appointment number two should typically be included in the price of the treatment).
Karen states that 'aftercare advice is given on an individual basis after each treatment, but we produce our own soothing balm which we give to our clients to apply post treatment to assist with the healing. Before treatment we always carry out strict patch tests a minimum of 48 hours before treatment.'
And how long does it last?
On average, results last from 18 months to 3 years – so you can wave goodbye to that eyebrow pencil and look forward to shaving a good few minutes off your morning make-up routine. Win, win. After that, it’s likely your brows will need a colour boost.
Can microblading go wrong?
As long as you've done your research and sought out a well-trained, correctly certified technician, there should be no risks. As well as a patch test, Karen advises that a thorough consultation beforehand is essential, giving you a chance to discuss your expectations regarding shape and colour (because no one likes surprises, particularly not when they're tattooed on your face...) It's also worth double checking the training credentials of your therapist - Karen recommends taking a look at the artist portfolio and checking their work is all their own, rather than that of the company or brand they've trained with.
Prices for Karen Betts' K.B Pro Brows start at £895. www.karenbetts.com