Whether you’re someone who has sparse brows, uneven arches, or no brow hairs at all, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about microblading. After all, the cosmetic tattooing technique is one of the best ways to achieve the brows of your dreams and, if all goes well, they’ll last a lot longer than your regular brow pencils, pens, and pomades. That’s because, rather than simply tracing temporary color over your skin, Studio Sashiko owner and cosmetic tattoo artist Shaughnessy Otsuji says that microblading relies on multiple needles aligned in a row to implant pigments beneath the skin to mimic the look of very fine hairs. As such, she says that microblading is the most popular method for achieving fluffy, natural, hair-like brows that are built to last. Just how long, however, depends on how you care for them post-ink sesh. For that reason, we chatted with Otsuji and a few other brow experts for everything there is to know about maintaining microbladed arches. Keep reading to discover what they have to say on the topic.
How Long Does Microblading Last?
Many people assume that since microblading is technically a tattoo, it, too, will last forever. However, thanks to the technique, the ultra-fine lines, and the area of the tattoo, brow expert and owner of Wink Brow Bar, Umbreen Sheikh, says that even the best microblading is only expected to last between one and three years, though most last for around two.
“The tattoo will gradually fade during this period,” she explains, noting that in most circumstances, a touch-up session is required around four to eight weeks post-initial ink sesh. “This is because the pigment can lighten or fade during the healing time (as the strokes are not as deep as in permanent tattooing, which keeps it a safer procedure), and a second round of microblading seals the deal. Here, the final strokes can be added to give you the perfect brows.”
Dry Skin vs Oily Skin Considerations
Part of what determines just how long your microblading will last is the type of skin you have. Where one might think that tattooing dry skin could lead to some pretty severe irritation, Pretty in the City founder and master stylists, Veronica Tran, says that normal to dry skin actually takes to microblading the best. “The hairstrokes expand during the healing process and heals the nicest aesthetically on normal to dry skin,”she explains, noting that microblading isn’t universally recommended for oily, or thin skin—the strokes will fade out and blur on oily skin rather quickly.
While Tran doesn’t recommend microblading for ultra-oily or think skin types, Sashiko says that people with shinier and/or more mature skin can still get the cosmetic treatment—it’s just important that their expectations are managed in the process. “Oily skin will usually have a slightly more diffused effect to the hair strokes due to excess oil and regular cell turnover,” she explains, concurring with Tran. “Mature skin tends to be quite thin and less firm and requires a bit more of a gentle approach. It is possible for all skin types to achieve a great looking brow with microblading, although I always let my clients know what they can expect based on their unique skin texture.”
The only folks who ought to steer clear of microblading altogether are those with underlying skin conditions. “For example, you cannot have a condition like eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis as these conditions can affect the texture and condition of the skin, making it unsuitable for semi-permanent makeup,” Sheikh explains. “Or, if you've had chemotherapy, you need to have been off it for at least six months before your service.”
How Long Does it Take For Microblading to Heal?
Just like regular tattoos take time to heal, so do cosmetic tattoos. As such, Tran says that for most people, surface healing (aka the outer-most layer of the epidermis) takes anywhere from seven to 14 days. “However, the skin underneath continues to rebuild itself for several weeks after the procedure,” she adds.
While the healing time is relatively quick, Otsuji says the most important thing is to know how to properly care for your microbladed brows post-treatment to ensure that they heal properly and last as long as possible.
“I ask my clients to gently blot away any excess build-up of fluid in the brow area for the first two to three days, and keep their brows and forehead clean and dry,” she says. “If done correctly, there shouldn't be much scabbing, but light peeling will occur around day three to four.” In addition to gently dabbing the area, Otsuji recommends applying a fast-drying barrier cream to act as a liquid bandaid over the area. “It will help promote healing and keep bacteria at bay,” she explains.
Beyond what to do, Sheikh explains what not to do when riding out the microblading healing process. Namely, she says to avoid getting brows wet, to avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, and to resist scratching them, as all three actions can increase irritation and scabbing potential.
One final thing to keep in mind during the healing process is that, while surface healing only takes up to two weeks, full healing takes between four and six. During this time, Sheikh says that it’s totally normal for brows to look noticeably faded, but that by the end of the healing process, the fluffy, life-like strokes will reveal themselves in full. “This is all part of the natural healing process and it will be more obvious to you than others,” she says. “Our customers love the results and it changes their lives—it builds confidence and takes time off your morning routine.”
How to Extend the Life of Microbladed Brows
While microbladed brows are designed to only last a few years, there are things you can do to extend their life as much as possible. “If you've successfully made it through the healing process, the rest is easy,” Otsuji says. “Protect your new brows from sun exposure by applying SPF daily and avoid using harsh exfoliants, as well as chemical or laser treatments in the area to prevent further fading.”
If you’re weighing whether or not microblading is right for you, remember that they’re not permanent and they are infinitely modifiable.
“Microblading is intended to fade over time as opposed to traditional tattooing which is considered permanent,” Otsuji says. “The pigments used in microblading tend to fade to a more natural tone and are not implanted as deep into the skin as other tattoos. The strokes created with microblading are much finer and require less ink saturation so they may shrink, soften, and lighten over time. A lesser lifespan allows us to make adjustments as our faces change and give the client the opportunity to try out different styles and shapes. Gone are the days of your great aunt's permanent brow tattoos! Microblading offers the most natural look—people may not even know what you had done!”