Here’s Why Everyone Is Suddenly Microblading Their Eyebrows

The feathery tattoos look realistic, but how long do they last and are there hidden complications?

microbladingCourtesy, Whitney Johnson
Perfectly shaped eyebrows are not an easy feat—either you over pluck to the point of no return (or no eyebrows) or you just accept that genetics has bestowed on you a pair of mismatched ones that no amount of tweezing can ever fix. That’s why some people are pinning their hopes on microblading. Microblading is a semi-permanent tattoo that employs real brush strokes for a truly hair-like appearance that can help give you the best eyebrows for your face shape. To understand more about the trend, we asked two microbladers to break it down for us.

You won’t have it forever

Don’t let the word “tattoo” in the microblading description fool you into thinking it’s permanent. The semi-permanent tat only lasts for one to three years, max, but the average is closer to a year and a half. Estheticians use a small bladed hand tool made up of tiny needles that gives the artist precision when hand-drawing the strokes on to (and, essentially, into) your skin. Unlike regular tattooing, the ink from microblading fades away with time because it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply. If you’re not satisfied with the finished result, you can use exfoliants or acid-based skincare products to speed up the fading process, fill in your brows with a brow pencil or concealer, or opt for laser removal treatments, a tedious process that typically takes multiple sessions to remove the ink. “Your best bet is to go to someone good in the first place,” says Whitney Johnson, a master esthetician and owner of Brows by Whitney in Bluffdale, Utah. “Don’t try to find the best deal or the cheapest artist, because not all microbladers are created equal.” Here are additional tips to get great brows.

Choose your microblader carefully

microbladeHBRH/ShutterstockBefore you consider microblading, do your research. “Any Joe Schmo can take a two-day course and start cutting into your face,” says Johnson. “Make sure the person doing the microblading has an extensive background in brow shaping and color theory and lots of before and after pictures. They should be an esthetician or a cosmetologist that has a background in skincare and is certified by their state’s health department.”

It’s a two-day event

eyebrowsLestertair/ShutterstockMicroblading is a simple two-session process; the initial appointment is about two hours and the follow-up can take up to an hour. “It’s not just a ‘you come in and leave’ kind of thing, because we are opening the skin and it needs to reseal,” says Kendra Bray, founder and owner of Better Brows in New York City. The first session includes a consultation with the esthetician, who will analyze your natural brow shape and color, and ask about your eyebrow preferences (do you like thick or thin, arched or more subtle?). Then she will map out the shape, measure it out based on your facial symmetry, and finally draw the eyebrow on. If both you and the esthetician are happy with the results after a look in the mirror, the tattooing will commence. The actual microblading typically takes no longer than 30 minutes depending on how thick or sparse your eyebrows are. Once your new brows are complete, you’ll return for a perfecting session (fine tuning the color or adding dimension) one to three months later, which gives your skin ample time to properly heal. In fact, most people come in at least a year later for another touch-up to maintain their color and strokes.

Prep your body beforehand

ibuprofenMr Doomits/ShutterstockThere are a few rules for prep before you go under the needle, to ensure your microblading procedure goes smoothly and is safe. Avoid acetaminophen, NSAIDs like ibuprofen, and any supplements that contain vitamin E and niacin for at least 48 hours before the procedure and avoid alcohol and caffeine for at least 24 hours; these substances may encourage excess bleeding, which would prevent the pigment from fully soaking into your skin.

It’ll be almost painless

If needles make you squeamish and you can’t handle pain, don’t worry; numbing cream is applied to your eyebrows before any incisions are made and reapplied throughout the procedure. Though pain tolerance varies from person to person, most people describe microblading as feeling like tiny scratches being etched into their forehead. “I’ve never had anyone leave the table and say, ‘I can’t do this,’” says Bray. “A lot of people who come in anxious or afraid of the pain find it’s not as bad as they expected.”

It’s not cheap

Depending on where you live, the initial two appointments can cost you up to $700. In New York City, Bray charges $699 for both appointments and $350 for touch-ups within the year. As for Johnson, her going rate is $425 for your first two sessions and $275 for a touch-up. After a year, the original full price applies to any touch-ups.

You won’t look like a clown

eyebrowsCourtesy, Better Brows NYC
Your brows should look nice and natural after a microblading session. “Most people go back to work after their appointment,” says Bray. “You don’t look crazy when you leave. You just look like you have brow make up on.” Eyebrows that are too dark for your skin tone or too thick are two telltale signs of a bad microblade job, which is why it’s so important to shop around for a qualified microblading professional to ensure you get the eyebrows of your dreams.

Follow the healing instructions to a T

The first week of healing is crucial, because your skin needs ample time to absorb the pigment. “Less is more. The less you mess with your brows the better,” says Bray.” To ensure optimal results, avoid getting your eyebrows wet for at least a week (you don’t want to wash off the pigment), don’t indulge in steamy showers, steer clear of the gym for at least 10 days (sweat can change the color of the pigment), and resist the urge to pick any scabs that may form after the incisions close up. “It’s a weird healing process.” says Johnson. “You leave the appointment with perfect eyebrows and that whole week they start to get really dark and that’s when some people freak out,” But don’t fret. The scabs will naturally peel off. At that point, it may look like the ink strokes faded, but by week three or four of the healing process the ink oxidizes and the pigment will return.

They take some TLC

For a long-lasting microbladed brow that will make you the eyebrow envy of all your friends, you must carefully maintain them. The sun is your number one enemy, so make sure you either wear a hat or put on sunscreen to prevent the tattoos from fading faster. Oceans, pools, face wash, anti-aging cream, and topical acne treatments can all contribute to fading. When you go on vacation, safeguard your brows against the elements, harsh chemicals, and salt water by applying a thin layer of Aquaphor or Vaseline to your brows beforehand to act as a barrier. As for beauty products, avoid getting them on the eyebrow area. Before making up your face, you may want to swipe a layer of Vaseline on your brows for added protection. “We constantly want the new, young skin cells on our face, because they’re the pretty, glowing ones,” says Bray. “But with the brows, we want the opposite. We are saving that skin. The slower that can turn over the better.”

Skin types behave differently

“Oilier skin tends to make the brows fade faster. because skin cells turn over faster, which is great for wrinkles but not for this, because it pushes the pigment off faster,” says Johnson. Try these tips to stop that excess shine so that your microbladed brows last longer. For darker skin tones, it’s more difficult to find a pigment that doesn’t blend in with the skin. And paler people are at a disadvantage because estheticians have to compensate for the fairer skin tones with lighter ink, which doesn’t last as long as the darker inks do.

Assess your health before going under the needle

Though safe for the average healthy person, microblading is not recommended for people who take certain medications or have specific health conditions. Complications may occur, such as excessive bleeding in people who take blood thinning medications and incisions that do not heal in diabetics. Consult with your doctor to see if microblading is a smart choice for you.

Ashley Lewis
Ashley is an Assistant Editor at Reader’s Digest. She received her Master’s Degree from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in 2015. Before joining Reader’s Digest, she was a Jason Sheftell Fellow at the New York Daily News and interned at Seventeen and FOX News. When Ashley is not diligently fact-checking the magazine or writing for, she enjoys cooking (butternut squash pizza is her signature dish), binge-watching teen rom-coms on Netflix that she’s way too old for, and hiking (and falling down) mountains.