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Brows are having a moment. And no matter how you shape and take care of your eyebrows, there's a good chance you've heard about microblading. This semi-permanent tattoo technique is used to create the illusion of fuller brows by creating hair-like strokes that mimic your natural hair growth. These days, there's a new term on the rise. Microfeathering is the new brow tattoo trend that has gained some serious traction over the past year.
But what's the difference, you ask? To get all the details on the newest semi-permanent brow solution, we tapped the woman behind microfeathering, Kristie Streicher, who not only created the technique, she trademarked it. Plus, extra precise inputs by dermatologist Shari Sperling and brow experts Dallas Trigg and Sonya Bottini. Here's everything you need to know about feathered eyebrows.
Meet the Expert
- Kristie Streicher is the cofounder of STRIIIKE salon in Beverly Hills. She is a celebrity brow expert and the creator of The Feathered Brow technique. Her clients include Mandy Moore, Keri Russell, and Mila Kunis.
- Shari Sperling is a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey specializing in medical and cosmetic procedures of the skin, face, and body.
- Dallas Trigg and Sonya Bottini are brow experts and owners of The Brow House, a brow studio in Sarasota, FL.
What Is Microfeathering?
Microfeathering is a microblading technique performed using needles/blades to pigment the skin and mimics real hairs, making the eyebrow more prominent. The result is natural-appearing eyebrow hair.
"When I first learned microblading, I was quite turned off by how unnatural it looked. I thought it looked much too over-filled and resembled a tattoo," says Streicher. "It wasn't until I started developing my own technique that I recognized the many variables that can affect the result. She spent a year developing her technique on over 300 test models, using it to conservatively fill-in sparse growth rather than recreate an entire brow. She says, "Microfeathering is my trademarked and proprietary technique created to help give people their fullest, most natural-looking brow. I genuinely try to create hair-like strokes that resemble and mimic natural hair to fill in sparse areas." She describes the final look as "soft, natural and truly custom to the individual's face."
Benefits of Microfeathering
- Gives a natural look
- Makes brows appear fuller and more fluffy
- Is semi-permanent
According to Trigg and Bottini, the purpose of any cosmetic tattooing is to enhance natural features. Microfeathering is softer and more subtle than microshading, for example, and is meant to be a natural-looking enhancement that gently fades over time. "Fading is desired as it allows the artist to make changes to color and shape over the years as the brow trends change, and the client's natural coloration and facial changes occur," they explain.
How to Prepare for Microfeathering
"I insist on working with one's natural brow shape and not a previously shaped brow," explains Streicher. Sperling confirms that the natural eyebrow should not be plucked, twisted, or waxed for a few weeks prior to having the procedure done so that the natural shape of the eyebrow can be assessed and enhanced.
Nowadays, it can vary from studio to studio, but all clients looking to receive microfeathering with Streicher must begin with growth training, which can range anywhere from six to 12 months. During training, she strategically tweezes every six to eight weeks, with no tweezing in between to evaluate and perfect your natural shape. She says, "Not working with the individual's natural hair growth pattern can detrimentally affect the outcome. My greatest fear is to take away the very thing that gives us a beautiful natural brow and individual character."
What to Expect During a Microfeathering
To create the microfeathered look, Streicher says, "Small incisions, or strokes, are made in the epidermis with a custom pigment designed to mimic the color of the client's brow hairs." She adds, "We use iron oxide pigments as they are considered the safest semi-permanent pigments to use on skin. Over time, these pigments will fade as the body naturally absorbs it."
Each appointment takes 1.5 to 2 hours, and Streicher tells us microfeathering could take up to three sessions to get it perfect. "I take baby steps by testing the skin during the first appointment. Here, strokes are created in some of the more dense areas of the brow to test the pigment, structure, and design of the hair strokes. She explains, "The second appointment occurs six to eight weeks later—depending on how the client's skin heals or responds, this is when additional strokes are added as needed. This ensures the best and most natural result possible, as every client's brows heal differently."
Before and After
Check out some of Streicher's amazing eyebrow transformations below.
Microfeathering vs. Microblading
"Microfeathering has a more minimal approach than microblading," say Trigg and Bottini. If you've ever thought microblading looked too perfect, too filled-in, or unnatural looking, microfeathering is its cooler, more effortless big sister. "With microfeathering, my ultimate goal is to try to create hair-like strokes that resemble and mimic natural hair. The look is not solid," explains Streicher. Both treatments follow the same procedure and use the same tools, but the difference lies in effect. According to Streicher, "you should be able to see skin between the hair and the strokes."
Potential Side Effects
Proceed with caution if you have oily skin. Streicher says, "The constant production of oil will cause the hair strokes to heal with a thicker, diffused look. Overall, the pigment may get rejected by oils in the skin, or the result will appear fuzzy, requiring frequent touch-ups." On the other hand, if you have hypersensitive or thin, delicate skin, you might want to err on the side of caution as well. "Hypersensitive skin is usually translucent, with nearly invisible pores, and often suffers from rosacea or dermatitis," explains Streicher. "Generally, this skin type bleeds very easily and has a harder time healing, which causes the pigment to appear more ashy, blurred, and patchy."
Finally, if the pain factor is top of mind, Streicher says, "I use a very effective and fast-acting proprietary topical anesthetic cream for the client's comfort during the procedure." At the end of the day, it's still a tattoo on a prominent part of your face, so prepare to feel a bit of a sting.
Microfeathering should not be painful as the brow area is numbed with potent topical Lidocaine beforehand. It is very important to understand that following microfeathering, some redness, swelling, bruising, and itching can be expected.
Microfeathering might be less expensive than microblading because it only fills sparse areas and small gaps. Depending on the studio and the touch-ups, prices may vary after the expert consultation. With Streicher, for example, microfeathering is a two-appointment process that costs $2500. At The Brow House, the first treatment is $450, and the touch-ups will cost $300 for the first two years.
Streicher says the strokes will fade after eight to 12 months of application, but they won't completely disappear. "We recommend that clients consider a touch-up appointment at this point. Depending on the client's skin and health, the pigment may leave a soft haze of residual pigment behind."
However, we do have a few tips for making your microfeathered brows last as long as possible. First, Sperling tells us to stay out of direct sunlight or shield ourselves from the sun with a hat and SPF 30+. "It's important to keep all semi-permanent makeup protected from the sun to help maintain the integrity of the hair-like strokes. Sun exposure can cause the ink to fade and 'bleed' under the skin, giving it a blurred look," says Streicher. She also alerts to avoid products that contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or chemical peels, as these acids will fade the pigment color.
The Final Takeaway
It's no surprise that microfeathering is having this huge success. This form of cosmetic tattooing gives this dream of a natural feathered brow without much compromise. It is ideal for those who are generally content with the brow shape and are looking for overall fullness and symmetry. It's precisely for those who love the less-is-more concept.