The hottest new semi-permanent tattoo treatment promises shapely, full and defined brows. But does it hurt, how long does it last and is it worth the hype?
The brow industry has been steadily on the up since Cara Delevingne took to the world’s runways in 2011. Indeed, a quick Instagram search for #brows reveals endless evidence of our quest for the perfect arch. It’s a market now worth £42m a year.
Enter microblading - semi-permanent brow tattoos - the latest treatment to take the beauty world by storm. ‘Microblading creates a well-defined, natural arch that transforms your face, especially if you suffer from over-plucking or sparse brows,’ says Vanita Parti, founder of blinkbrowbar.
Suman Jalaf, founder of Suman Brows - and arguably London’s most sought-after technician - agrees. ‘It’s fast becoming the go-to beauty treatment, thanks to the minimal downtime and low-maintenance finish.’
Here’s what you need to know about microblading:
It takes me 50 minutes to do my make-up, 15 of which are dedicated to my brows. It’s extreme, but I love make-up – it’s my job – and I’m a perfectionist. The process involves a complex ritual of pomades, pencil, gel and powder until they’re just right. So naturally, when I got the chance to have them ‘embroidered’ by Suman Jalaf, I couldn’t resist. I’ve already got a couple of body tattoos, so the thought of needles didn’t put me off.
Where body tattoos are designed to last, with ink implanted deep into the dermis, microblading artists use a blade to scratch just the skin’s surface, positioning ink in a more superficial manner, with ultra-thin strokes that are hard to differentiate from real hairs. The results last up to around 18 months.
To begin my treatment, my new shape was measured and the colour discussed before a numbing cream was applied to my brows. The actual blading takes only 15 minutes. ‘I use a sterilised, disposable blade with 12-14 micro needles at the end dipped in pigment, to give a fine line like a paper-cut etched on the skin,’ Suman explains. I was surprised by how little I felt – it didn’t hurt at all – although listening to the scalpel scratching against my skin was harrowing. I’d recommend headphones and a good playlist.
Be warned, the first sight of your new brows may shock you. I feared the two slugs perched atop my eyes might stay forever and quickly ordered a taxi home. Rest assured, this isn’t the case. Any redness and stinging will last no longer than a day, while it takes up to 10 for your brows to fade to the correct colour.
Chanelle's eyebrows prior to the treatment
You may get a little scabbing, which can be soothed with a little coconut oil brushed on to itchy brows, and unless your brows are very fair the scabs won’t be noticeable. Keeping brows dry for four days after the treatment was a challenge. As face wipes are a no-no for a beauty journalist, I used Emma Hardie’s Moringa Amazing Face Cleansing Balm, £38, which comes with a handy muslin cloth. At a follow-up appointment six to eight weeks later, your colour is topped up and the shape tweaked.
Chanele's eyebrows after the treatment
Life post-blading is easy and filled with flattery. A swoosh of Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Clear Brow Gel, £16.50, in the morning (and the other 35 minutes of my regime) and I’m good to go. My new, perfectly shaped, auto-filled arches are now part of me. The only question I’ve been asking myself since is: why didn’t I get this done sooner?
The Dos and Don'ts
Do your research on who to see. Not all bladers are created equal.
Don’t get the treatment if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. If you’ve had Botox, wait for at least two weeks after treatment.
Do the prep work. Make sure you take the patch test to check you’re not allergic to the pigment. Keep your brows unplucked leading up to the appointment, it’ll give your technician more to work with.
Don’t pick off any scabs. It’s unlikely you’ll get many, but scratching at them will compromise the longevity of the result.
Do attend your follow-up appointment. The darkness from the first treatment fades up to 40 percent so you’ll need the top-up to get to your final colour and shape.
Don’t apply Vaseline in an attempt to soothe any itching - it actually draws out the colour.
READ MORE: Microblading: Your Questions Answered