In this new world of face masks and Zoom calls, many of us have become preoccupied with our brows – or the lack of them, as is sometimes the case. We know that full, well-shaped brows can be nothing short of transformational; they serve as a kind of anchor for your face, enhancing your eye shape and lending your features a youthful edge.
Microblading (a tattoo-like treatment) is now seen as the go-to semi-permanent brow treatment for anyone looking to fill in sparse areas and replace the volume that’s naturally lost with age. For many, microblading is an excellent option: when it’s done well, it’s subtle and long-lasting. For others, it doesn’t always live up to the hype. So, as with any cosmetic treatment, it pays to do your research before (literally) going under the scalpel. Here’s what you need to know.
What is microblading?
Similar to tattooing but infinitely more subtle, microblading involves the drawing-on of semi-permanent ‘hairs’ using a super-fine, hand-held blade. “It’s meticulous and cannot be rushed,” says Suman Jalaf, the London-based brow expert and founder of Suman Brows Beauty Atelier, who is partly responsible for the treatment’s stratospheric popularity. Jalaf’s fine-arts background equips her to ink the most beautifully shaped and believable brows possible. Because of her unique skills, she is often flown around the world to cater to the brow needs of her global client list, which includes Suki Waterhouse.
What does microblading involve?
It’s a fairly lengthy procedure, with the whole treatment taking around two hours from beginning to end, though some of that time is spent waiting for the anaesthetic cream to render the area suitably numb. “Technically, you are scarring your skin,” says Jalaf. “It’s still a blade and your scar is implanted with pigment.” Tattoo inks contain titanium and that is what keeps the pigment within the skin.
Inevitably, whenever the topic of microblading comes up, the question of pain also arises. Before the treatment, a thick numbing cream is applied to the entire brow area and this is usually left on for around 45 minutes, to allow enough time for it to take effect. However, there’s no denying that you’re still likely to experience a level of discomfort. The blade makes only a shallow cut in the skin, but because repeated strokes are made over quite a long period of time, it can be painful. Some people experience a low-level discomfort that’s enough to make your eyes water, while others can feel something more intense. The crux is that you can’t pull out halfway through the treatment if the sensation becomes too much – not if you want an even result. If you think you have a low tolerance for pain, it might be worth exploring other avenues of brow enhancement, such as lamination.
Preparation and aftercare
Pre-microblading prep is essential: two weeks prior to your appointment, avoid blood-thinning medicines (like aspirin) and skin-thinning products (such as retinol) to minimize bruising and bleeding. Botox is also a no-no in the two weeks before your treatment. Post-care advice has generally been to keep brows dry for a minimum of 48 hours; however, Jalaf now advises keeping your brows dry for 10 days to prevent the pigment from blurring. Also, avoid using any skin peels or active skincare ingredients in the surrounding area until your skin has healed.
What should you expect?
“Brows will appear significantly darker at first, then soften by up to 40 percent over the next few days,” says Jalaf. Indeed, if you have fair skin, the initial result can appear a bit of a shock but, rest assured, it does fade to a more natural level. “Individual hair strokes will gradually disperse according to your skin type; so the oilier your skin, the less defined the hair strokes will become and the faster the color will fade. You will need a touch-up after six weeks, but with careful maintenance – and daily use of a good SPF cream to avoid discoloration – the results should last for up to 18 months.”
Microblading is defined as a semi-permanent treatment, but in some instances the color can linger for a number of years, and what were once delicate, individual strokes can become less defined. If this is the case, the color can subtly change over time, appearing ashy on deep skin tones and reddish on fairer complexions.
One last piece of advice…
As with tattooists or any kind of cosmetic practitioner, always do your research before choosing a microblading technician. “It’s important to understand that everyone’s work comes out differently,” says Jalaf. “Make sure you have more than one consultation (each should last around 45 minutes), look at before-and-after photographs and don’t have your treatment on the same day as your consultation – so wait until you and your microblader are 100 percent sure of what you want to achieve and what your expectations are.
The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown.