The thought of permanent makeup may be a bit too daunting for some, but many who have never considered permanent makeup are turning to microblading – a less permanent option. Microblading is a good choice for those who want to fully reconstruct, define, fill, or redefine over-tweezed eyebrows with less commitment. Many clients may naturally have a straight eyebrow, but as they age, they notice the arch shape makes them look younger. Those that research microblading prefer the thinner, more natural hair stroke of the eyebrow to the look of permanent eyebrow options. Ultimately, those that do not want to commit to a specific eyebrow shape due to changes in personal appearances or trends truly love opt for microblading.
In general, a topical numbing cream is applied prior to any permanent makeup or microblading procedure so technicians can minimize the client’s discomfort. Everyone has different pain and anxiety tolerances, so it is important to get a feel for the client at the time of consultation, especially if they are new. Prior to the procedure, have the client fill out new paperwork designed specifically for microblading. During a consultation, discuss design, shape, and color; perform a patch test; and take pictures.
MICROBLADING VERSUS PERMANENT MAKEUP
Microblading uses a hand-held tool comprised of up to 14 microneedles in the shape of a blade; this tool creates micro-slices in the skin. During the procedure, the technician drags the needle with a tiny amount of pigment on the end to mimic a hair stoke, re-dips the needle tip, and carefully adds pigment into the slice with the microblade. This technique allows the skin to heal with a fine and crisp hair stroke that mimics real hair. The slice has to carefully reach the upper dermis, which is very challenging since the technician has to feel which layer they are in. Throughout the procedure, the pigment is continuously rubbed on top to help push pigment into the skin to reach the right layer. The technician will create a strategic pattern to emulate a natural eyebrow hair pattern. There is a lot of thought and pre-planning that goes into studying the natural hair pattern of the eyebrow. Creating the pattern is where the difficulty in the procedure really comes into play. Microblading is extremely technical and detailed because each hair stroke has to be purposeful. Proper lighting, such as a head lamp, is crucial, along with having approximately two hours for the initial procedure. Microblading typically lasts 12-to-18 months and refreshers are recommended as the pigment fades.
Permanent makeup technique differs by using a rotary device, such as a pen machine, to implant pigment into the upper layer of the dermis; this technique is similar to a sewing needle motion with vibration. The strength of the machine allows the pigment to be deposited strategically at a particular depth. There are different needle tips that can be attached to the machine’s handpiece that allows the technician to choose the shape and technique, such as powder eyebrows, shading, hairstrokes, or a fusion. One of the major differences between microblading and permanent makeup is that the vibration of the permanent makeup machine may cause the hairstroke to blur or soften; however, there have been new needle tips created, micros, that emulate the microblade stroke with more permanency. Permanent makeup lasts three-to-five years and refreshers are recommended as the pigment fades.
THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
Prime candidacy for microblading depends on the integrity and quality of the skin. More often than not, technicians post pictures right after the procedure to claim perfect work even though it is not the actual, healed result. In fact, like most permanent makeup procedures, microblading procedures need two or three applications of color to ensure enough of it holds and is in the right places. A good way to tell if the picture was taken immediately after procedure is if there is a yellow halo effect around the newly done eyebrows. This effect is from the epinephrine in the anesthetic as it constricts the capillaries and lessens bleeding during the procedure.
Clients with thin skin or heavily textured skin are not great candidates for microblading. The micropigmentation industry has done a great job in categorizing skin into food types so there is universal understanding of which skin types are and are not good candidates. Skin type is important when choosing ideal candidates because the pigment, which goes in the upper dermis, has to be seen through the skin. Whatever texture or irregularities the dermis and epidermis possess is typically how the pigment will appear. For example, there are skin types that are not good candidates: the egg (skin is too thin), orange (oily and large pores), and prune (heavily lined and wrinkled). These types should seek permanent makeup since the machine offers multiple techniques to allow for an even distribution of pigment in a shading, softer effect.
In the body tattoo industry, technicians use ink that has a smaller molecule size and lasts longer; however, it has a blue or green cast as it fades. Microblading and permanent makeup uses pigment, which has a thicker consistency than ink. These pigments are made up of opaque oxides, lakes, and iron oxide pigments. Iron oxides have been one of the most commonly used coloring agents for cosmetics over the century. They have also been used in natural minerals not only for permanent cosmetics, but also for traditional cosmetics, foods, medications, religious ceremonies, and skin protection. Although iron oxides are non-reactive, safe, and harmless, technicians should patch test clients with the pigment. Technicians should know the ingredients of the pigments they are choosing to do a patch test with to protect themselves and their clients. Always use a reputable pigment line that other technicians have had years of success using.
The easiest way to describe pigment to clients is to tell them that the pigment is like a liquid mineral makeup. The colors are very similar to mineral makeup options. For example, technicians can achieve more natural, earthy colors that are in perfect harmony with the natural coloring of the face. Technicians should remind clients that the pigment choice and application should look good on them without makeup. A good technician should have experience with pigment color and an understanding of how it heals in the skin. Oftentimes, color choice is the most difficult thing to master when learning microblading or permanent makeup. There are numerous factors to consider in color choice: the skin’s color, undertone, integrity, and health; the body’s internal chemistry; and the pigment’s color and undertone. Some technicians may struggle with understanding the relation of color implanted into the skin versus color topically applied onto the skin. A great analogy to share with clients when explaining the body’s internal chemistry factor and pigment variation is how every individual varies in their diet. Five people can be picked out of a crowd and all five of them will have different diet sensitivities or nutritional requirements. The same color can be used on five different people and result in five different effects. Some clients will hold onto pigment easily, while others may not; in that scenario, technicians may need to change their pigment choice or technique due to how clients heal. Some clients will heal cooler (grey, blue, or purple undertone), while others will heal too light or too dark. During the touchup, technicians should tweak the client’s color or application technique based on the healed result.
Every technician’s post-care recommendations will vary, but for the most part, the goal is to keep the procedure area clean and dry. The client is typically left with post-care instructions and grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or ointment applied to their eyebrows. Immediately after the procedure, the treated area needs to be protected from harmful bacteria and environmental aggressors. Over the next few days the eyebrows will crust and flake slightly as the skin layers heal underneath. If the client pulls or picks at the crust, it can lift the pigment, so it is important to resist the temptation. Clients should not work out, sweat, or take hot and steamy showers a few days following the procedure. They also should not plan big events until after their touchups are complete. The touchups can be done between four-to-six weeks after the initial procedure. Over time, the pigment naturally exfoliates, lightens, and fades. Sun exposure, tanning beds, and active skin care products, such as hydroquinone and retinols, will fade pigment much faster. An inexperienced technician usually has work that fades quicker due to the pigment not being deep enough into the skin.
Since microblading is a newer procedure, the aesthetics industry will learn more as time goes on about how the eyebrows can be maintained once faded over longer periods of time or after multiple touchups or refreshers, since the delicate hair strokes can be easily skewed. Also, more will be learned in implanting colors and variation of techniques as newer tools and pigments are continually getting created. Recently, technicians have started adding shading with microblade hand tools or rotary machines to soften hair strokes and add more dimension and depth. This technique seems to work well for those clients who hardly have eyebrows at all; there is an obvious stop to the hair in an eyebrow or more mature eyebrows that need softness and more of a lift. The powder shading mimics filling the eyebrows with makeup by adding depth; it alleviates hollow sections of the eyebrows while keeping the natural, sweeping hair strokes.
Microblading is an ongoing journey and learning process. Those interested in microblading should check with the American Academy of Micropigmentation to ensure they find a reputable trainer or facility that will accommodate ongoing training and mentorship. It is best to learn from those that are true professionals in the industry as they can help technicians through challenging procedures, complex color decisions, and new techniques. Microblading is such a popular procedure and is in major demand, so be prepared for the demand!
Jaclyn Peresetsky is the owner of Skin Perfect Spas in Ohio and Florida and a noted color expert, makeup artist, master aesthetician, permanent makeup instructor, author, and speaker. Her multiple books, cosmetic and skin care lines, and training courses allow other beauty professionals to learn and add more services combining art and science to become leading beauty experts. Her passion for education lead her to create a school for Advanced Esthetics and Color, opening in January of 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.