The look of naturally thick brows is one beauty trend that is showing no signs of slowing down. A study published by Nielsen at the end of 2018 reported that the purchase of eyelash and eyebrow treatments and eyebrow products is up by 32 percent and 24 percent respectively year over year and drastically outpaces the purchase of other eye makeup products. One subset of these growing treatments is microblading, a semipermanent cosmetic brow tattoo procedure that’s beloved by savvy beauty consumers looking for a longer-term fix. But despite the overwhelming popularity of the treatment (there are over 8.1 million posts on Instagram for #microblading, and over 1.1m posts for #microbladingeyebrows), there is still plenty of misinformation surrounding the topic. We tapped New York City permanent makeup artist Kendra Bray, founder of Better Brows & Beauty, to get the important information you’re not hearing anywhere else.
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Microblading is a form of eyebrow tattooing, but not all eyebrow tattooing is microblading.
“There are multiple techniques that can be used in brow tattoo,” explains Bray. “Microblading has become very trendy in recent years, but it specifically refers to a technique that creates the look of hair strokes. It’s good for clients who want a natural look. But if the client wants a more defined, ‘finished’-looking brow, microblading cannot create enough coverage. There is another technique called a powdered brow, which creates a soft sheer coverage of color throughout the entire brow shape. If you looked at it under a microscope, it would look like tiny dots in the brow area, instead of individual hair shapes. The confusion for consumers can come into play when they start seeing different names for different techniques. Microblading, hair stroke brows, 3-D eyebrows, eyebrow embroidery, feather stroking brows—these are all names for the hair stroke look in a brow. Powder brows, ombré brows and shaded brows are all names for a powder brow.”
Skin type is the biggest factor in determining if microblading will work for you.
“Pigment heals differently in different skin types. People who have very oily skin are not good candidates for a hair stroke [microblading] brow. The oils in the skin pull the pigment during the healing process and the lines or ‘hair strokes’ don’t heal into a crisp or defined line. Instead, the line looks blurry. Microblading only looks nice when you can achieve that crisp hair stroke, otherwise it looks blotchy. Skin that has very large pores will also not heal with crisp hair strokes. You will need to speak to your artist to see what they recommend for you. Powder brows can work on all skin types.”
Certain skin-care ingredients can fade your brow.
“Your skin-care ingredients can play a factor into the longevity of your brows. Any ingredients that help to exfoliate and increase cell turnover will fade the brows faster,” says Bray. “Ingredients to keep away from the brows include glycolic acid, AHAs and retinol. Clients can sometimes forget that their daily face wash includes those ingredients. The brows won’t disappear after one wash, but if you’re exposing your brows to these ingredients month after month, you will not have as much longevity out of the color. Sun exposure will also fade the brows. After your brows are healed, you can put SPF on them like you would the rest of your face.”
Ask to see aged brows, not just fresh work from your artist.
A freshly microbladed brow can look dramatically better what you started with, but when the brow heals and ages, it can start looking different. One big culprit? How the ink wears. “There are so many pigments out there, and they are not regulated by the FDA,” says Bray. “Each brand is manufactured differently, and to be honest, all of the details are not always known. Artists simply don’t have the information to know which pigment is better and which aren’t as good until they start working with them and learn from their own experience. The best way to avoid future issues with the pigment color is to ask to see examples of aged brows from your artist. Ask them to see examples of their work healed, and aged at the one-year mark.”
The best advice is to do your research.
“The industry has very low regulations,” says Bray. “It’s up to the client to do their research and make sure that the artist has the right technical knowledge and certifications. The SPCP is an organization that requires additional testing, hours of clinical time, and continuing education for membership. I also recommend that customers read a lot of reviews in their research. Note if other people have been happy with the artist’s work. Do they have a lot of complaints? How did the artist respond to the complaints? Lastly, have a conversation with the artist before deciding to move forward. You need to feel comfortable with that person—they are taking needles to your face after all.”
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