a semi-permanent technique for enhancing the appearance of the eyebrows, in which pigment is scratched into the skin in fine, short strokes resembling hair, using a hand tool with a blade formed of tiny needles.
“The best candidates for microblading are those who struggle with sparser eyebrows.”
I recently met with PhiBrow Royal Artist Francesa Bruni from Blade & Ink to finally get my own eyebrows microbladed. Francesa has preformed microblading on over 500 clients between her Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie locations and in my opinion, her work is the best of the best (just look at her before & afters). It took me ages to get up the courage to get my brows microbladed, mostly because I had a TON of questions and concerns pre-microblading that were hard to get answered online. Photos that documented my major concern, the healing/flaking process were few and far between, which is why I’ve made a candid post of my own microblading experience. I decided to clear the muddy waters for those of you who may be sitting on the fence about getting your eyebrows microbladed by getting the answers straight from the expert.
How does microblading work?
Francesca: The artist uses a small blade to etch and deposit ink into hair-like strokes that mimic your own hair growth.
Note: Artist and technique are VERY important. Remember, this is basically a tattoo on your face. It is not a regulated field, and passing off before & after photos of work you didn’t do is a thing – so do your research and don’t go to the cheapest place because the work may well reflect the price. I chose Francesca because she’s been a makeup artist, and esthetician cusing on eyebrows for 15 years) and is also a brilliant artist (her thing is realism). With an artistic and detail oriented background like that, I knew her aesthetic eye and steady hand are exactly the qualities I’d want in someone I am trusting to tattoo my face.
How long does microblading take to get done?
Francesca: The appointment is generally 2-3 hours, including a consultation where I understand the clients expectations. There is a touch up session 4-6 weeks after the initial session, and maintenance suggested about once a year.
How do you decide on the shape, and how close can I get to my dream brow?
Francesca: In my appointments I assess and analyze the clients facial structure, skin type, hair growth direction, and natural hair colour and come up with the brow shape that will be most natural and complimentary for their unique face. We finalize a shape and pigment colour that the client is happy with. Sometimes I have to steer clients away from what they think they want – for instance, I would never put the darkest pigment on a fair-skinned client, even if they were adamant because I know what the end result will look like. Sometimes, a face just cannot accommodate a certain shape – I always manage the expectations of my clients making sure they are realistic, but also getting as close to their dream brow as face shape allows. If you have specific something in mind, I have to know – trusting the expert is key, but I want you to love you brows.
Does it hurt?
Francesca: It’s uncomfortable, but not painful. I take every precaution to make sure it’s pain free. I provide my clients with a numbing cream to ease the discomfort (which is not a service that every artist provides). With the numbing cream, you may feel some scraping but it should not be painful. Some clients report no discomfort at all. Try not to schedule your appointment close to your period as women are more sensitive to pain during that time.
How long does it take to heal?
Francesca: Again, everyone heals at different paces but generally it takes 7-14 days. The first few days your brows may feel tender and be a bit red due to blood attaching to the new skin growth. Day 3-6 the top layers begin to shed and itch, and the colour begin to lighten. It’s important not to itch, or pick the skin during this phase or risk pigment loss or scarring.
Note: I consider myself a slow healer in that my bruises and cuts take weeks to go away and scars stay forever. Because of this I was mostly worried about the healing process – vainly, I didn’t want to go to work with scabby eyebrows. I’m happy to report the whole flaking process only took about 4 days and it never looked uneven once. I was SO pleasantly surprised and wish I’d done it sooner. Do take this with a grain of salt because I’ve had friends reach out and say their healing was much worse. I think that because microblading style is individual hair-strokes and not shading of the whole brow, the flaking and scabs are so tiny that it’s not as noticeable throughout the healing process.
How long does the pigment last on your skin?
Francesca: Every body is different. Depending on skin type, and care it can last anywhere from 1-3 years. Factors that can fade the pigment more quickly include:
- Sun exposure
- Oily skin
- Iron deficiency
- Regular use of harsh exfoliants like retinols or glycolic acid in your skincare routine
Microblading goes 3 layers into the epidermis whereas tattooing goes 7 layers, so it will fade eventually and allow for the client to change their shape with the trend. I recommend a touch up once a year.
Is it true that sometimes when the ink fades, it can start to look orange?
Francesca: That is why artist, and pigment selection are so important. Colour changing can happen if your artist didn’t use a high quality pigment. PhiBrows, the academy that I work through, have a patented pigment technology and it does not change colour even as saturation fades.
Is the touch up really necessary?
Francesca: It’s impossible to tell how one’s body will heal from microblading. Sometimes the pigment won’t take in certain areas, leaving spacing. That is why we have the touch up. The procedure is not really complete until the touch up has healed. At the touch up we can also reassess the pigment colour and go darker if necessary.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t get microblading?
Yes. There are several contraindications that can prevent someone from getting microbladed.
- Individuals prone to keloids, super thin skin, Rosacea, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or if you have any kind of skin condition near your brow area. (Eczema, shingles, rashes).
- Individuals with transmittable blood disease such as HIV or Hepatitis.
- If you’ve had recent Botox/filler in the brow area.
- If you are undergoing active chemotherapy.
- It is not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing. It’s considered to be a Category C.
- You need to be over the age of 18 years old.
I always suggest booking a consultation first so I am able to assess the skin and give a definitive answer. If an individual has dark pre-existing eyebrow tattoo than a consultation is mandatory.
A Deeper Dive Into Pre and Post Care
All of the info below was taken from, and can also be found on Francesa’s Blade + Ink website.
What To Expect During Healing
Approximate daily healing process:
Days 1-2 The pigment will appear very sharp and dark immediately after the procedure. The area will appear up to 30% sharper in colour and 10% larger immediately after treatment. Under the pigment, the skin is red and pigment has been deposited into the layer of skin containing dead skin cells; combined giving the appearance of darker colour. This will settle down once the areas begin to heal.
Day 3-5 The top layers of skin will begin to shed around this time, and you will see a loss of colour. Your eyebrows may begin to itch and the pigment may appear somewhat raised. Do not scratch or pick.
Day 6-14 Your skin will begin to rapidly exfoliate and should be left alone. Customers may develop bald spots or lose original hair strokes which makes the brows look uneven. This is absolutely normal as your natural skin regeneration is not something that can be controlled by you or the technician. The colour under the exfoliating skin will continue to appear light until the epidermis takes on its more transparent characteristics.
Day 30-40 This is the time to critique your eyebrows as the tattoo has now become part of the dermis and seen under the epidermis. Colour will fade/soften anywhere from 30% to 50%, sometimes more. A touch up appointment is scheduled to perfect required areas (between 4-6 weeks after initial appointment).
Pre & Post Care
Prior to treatment:
- do not consume alcohol 24-48 hours before the procedure
- do not consume caffeine before procedure
- do not work out the day of the procedure
- do not tan 2 weeks prior or come to with a sunburned face
- do not have Botox 4 weeks prior to procedure
- please note that you will be more sensitive during your menstrual cycle
- do not take Aspirin, Niacin or Ibuprofen 24 hours before the procedure
- consult with your doctor before you discontinue any medication
- do not use AHA skin care products close to eyebrow area no less than 2 weeks prior to your procedure.
- do not use Rentin A skin care products close to eyebrow area 1 month prior to your procedure.
- IPL, laser hair removal should be performed no less than 2 weeks prior to your procedure.
- do not tweeze, wax, thread, or perform electrolysis 1 week before the procedure. Do not resume any method of hair removal for at least 2 weeks or until healing is complete.
- eyebrow tinting should be done no sooner than 48 hours before and 2 weeks after the procedure.
- 7 days before the procedure stop taking the following supplements (Fish Oil/Omega-3, Vitamin D, E, B6, Garlic, Bromelain, Gingko Biloba, Nattakinase, St. John’s Wort) as they contribute to thinning of the blood and bruising of the skin. You may resume taking your supplements 72 hours after your procedure.
- It is recommended to postpone social plans for a few days. Avoid the procedure at least a month prior to important life events.
- Procedures may take longer than expected due to unforeseen circumstances.
Day of treatment:
- 30 minutes – 1 hour after the procedure, clean the area with sterile water or cool boiled water, neutral unscented soap (baby soap) and a cotton pad, gauze or q-tip (to prevent cross-contamination) and allow to air dry then apply a very thin layer of approved aftercare. This process is to be repeated 3 – 5 times during the day.
- This is done to clean excess lymph fluid and prevents the lymph from hardening.
- ONLY touch the area with clean hands to avoid infection.
Days 1 to 7:
- Wash daily to remove bacteria and dead skin. Gently wash your eyebrows each morning and night with water and neutral soap or an antibacterial soap like Dial Soap, Cetaphil or Neutrogena. With a very light touch, use your fingertips to gently cleanse the eyebrows. Rub the area in a smooth motion for 10 seconds and rinse with water ensuring that all soap is rinsed away. To dry, gently pat with a clean tissue and air dry.
- DO NOT use any cleansing products containing exfoliating acids (glycolic, lactic, or AHA).
- Apply a rice grain amount of aftercare ointment with a cotton swab and spread it across the treated area. Be sure not to over-apply as this will suffocate your skin and delay the healing process. Never put the ointment on a wet or damp tattoo.
General Aftercare Tips
- Avoid direct sun exposure or tanning for 3-4 weeks after the procedure.
- Apply a good SPF to reduce fading. (Not during the first 7 days)
- Keep your hair away from your face. During the day and while sleeping for the first 4 days.
- Use a fresh pillowcase.
- Avoid sleeping on your face for the first 1 week.
- Avoid heavy sweating exercise for the first 10 days.
- Avoid swimming, lakes, hot baths/showers, Jacuzzis and saunas for the first 10 days.
- Limit your showers to 5 minutes so you do not create too much steam. Keep your face/procedure out of the water while you wash your body, then, at the end of your shower, wash your hair. Your face should only be getting wet at the very last end of the shower. Avoid excessive rinsing and hot water on the treated area.
- DO NOT rub, pick, or scratch the treated area. Let any scabbing or dry skin exfoliate off naturally. Picking can cause scarring and removal of pigment.
- NO facials, Botox, chemical treatments or microdermabrasion for 4 weeks. Wear a hat when outdoors on those really sunny days.
- Performing tasks related to heavy household cleaning where there is a lot of airborne debris.
- Dermal fillers and Botox can alter the shape of the eyebrows. It is advised that injectables be carried out after the procedure and not prior.
- Remember to advise technicians of your permanent cosmetics if you are doing a chemical peel, laser procedure (Fraxel, IPL, etc.) or an MRI scan.
- The use of Retin A/Tretinoin or any other rapid skin exfoliation products used regularly on the forehead area will cause the permanent makeup to the eyebrow area to fade prematurely.
- The use of chemical peels and acid peels regularly on the forehead region can also cause eyebrow tattoos to fade prematurely.
- It is suggested to not give blood for 6 months – 1 year following treatment.
- Pigment retention depends on skin type, age, aftercare, sun exposure, use of certain skin products, pigments used, immune system, medications and other factors.
- A touch up appointment is scheduled 4-8 weeks after initial procedure. It is recommended to do a colour enhancement between 12 – 18 months after treatment to prevent natural fading.