We’ve heard a lot of buzz around ombré brow shading. While ombré may make us think of the hair trend, it's much subtler on the brow. The process is a blending of color using either brow tint or a pencil. Typically, to appear bolder, the brow is made to look darker at the arch. Think of it as the lowlights you get in your hair, but for your brow. It's a subtle color transition that adds depth to otherwise wimpy-looking brows. It also looks way more natural than some other trends we’ve fared.
When Sally Hershberger’s resident brow expert Robyn Cosio mentioned ombré brows on a visit and said they are "the No. 1 technique she applies to her A-list clients," we paused. Wouldn’t we all notice a drastic gradient effect on the bulk of Hollywood’s brows? Turns out the answer is no. So we spoke to Joey Healy to learn more about this trend.
Meet the Expert
Ahead, learn everything you need to know about the ombré brow trend, from how much it costs to how it differs from microblading.
What Is Ombré Shading?
Ombré shading is a semi-permanent eyebrow styling technique that uses a small machine to place extremely thin dots of pigment into the skin, creating a soft-shaded brow pencil look.
For most beauty lovers, leaning into your mirror to precisely fill in your eyebrows is the most stressful part of your routine. Ombré shading graces you with one to three years of low maintenance for your brows. If you're interested in added drama, brush through with the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel ($22) or Soap Brow ($25).
Benefits of Ombré Brows
- Ideal option for oily or sensitive skin, unlike microblading
- Require less touch-up appointments
- Gives the appearance of fuller, defined brows
Ombré brows are all skin types friendly and worthwhile investment. Yamaguchi shares, "I meet a lot of women who have a very hard time filling in their brows or clients with little to no brow hair at all. Having this service saves time in the morning, money, and is a helpful guide when filling them in. You can also personalize the density, meaning how light or how dark you would like the brows to be."
Microblading vs. Ombré Shading
The more significant difference between the two eyebrow styling techniques is how the pigment is added to the skin. Healy says, "Both [microblading and ombré shading] are semi-permanent tattoos, but microblading is making short hair-like strokes. Ombré brows are a series of many fine dots that vary in concentration, giving the look of a powdered brow."
An important factor to note is that microblading does not work for all skin types. Microblading is not great for oily skin as the color does not show up effectively and can look blurry. Natural oils can also prevent the brows from healing properly.
It is possible to combine both techniques as one can be used at the beginning of the brow and the other can be used on the ends. Healy explains, "For those short little vertical lines, microblading might look good on the front and ombré would look good on the tail. The goal is to have the most minor of hair flicks in the beginning and we don’t want the brow to start in a solid mass."
How to Prepare for the Treatment
The cost of the treatment ranges anywhere between $500 and $1000. Clients should go into their appointment bare-faced and well-rested. Yamaguchi expresses the importance of steering clear of anything that may thin the blood 48 hours prior to the service. "Laying off blood thinners is number one for me. This means, absolutely no alcohol, pain relievers, other specific medications, or botox until after the service has been done. Blood-thinning agents do exactly that, thin the blood and cause you to bleed heavier than normal during the service resulting in poor pigment retention."
What to Expect During Ombré Shading
"During the appointment, the client should expect to feel comfortable, at ease, and like they are actually part of the process. That is super important to me, not only as a business owner but as a service provider. After all, we are tattooing their faces!" Yamaguchi expresses.
The appointment can take about two to three hours. "Typically your professional will put on a topical anesthetic that they let sit for 20-40 minutes before shading. While it numbs you, it is uncomfortable because you are abrading the skin," says Healy. The artist will create a frame around your brows to map out where to add the pigment. You'll be able to see the shape and color before the pigment is added to your skin. Once you agree and confirm the look of your customized brows, the shading can begin. After the process, your eyebrows will look darker and may feel tender.
Similar to a tattoo, it really depends on your pain tolerance, but a topical numbing agent can be applied beforehand making the service more tolerable. The discomfort might be a small price to pay for low-maintenance ombré brows.
There are no documented side effects of machine shading. While it is comparable to a traditional tattoo, the needle does not go as deep into the skin. As a semi-permanent treatment, it will fade over time. "I have witnessed color changes in the pigment under the skin over time and this is due to sun exposure or bad pigment selection from the brow technician," Yamaguchi explains. "It's very important to do your research on the establishment and artist you will be seeing prior to getting serviced."
Think of this as a mini-vacay from the gym and wearing makeup. "Avoid getting the brows wet for 10 days. This includes keeping your face dry in the shower. You also want to avoid excessive sweating and makeup for a week," says Healy, noting that the brows will scab, and you don't want to pick at the scab or itch. "Professionals will inform you to use an antibacterial ointment for the first 24 hours. Follow up with a popular ointment like Aquaphor ($11) or Vaseline ($4)."
Typically with brow specialists, it’s important to go back a few weeks after for a little touch-up. "Anyone who's providing this service whose good and reputable would like you to come back to check on your results about two or three weeks later and see if there’s more to do or little adjustments to make," says Healy.
UV/UVA Rays have been known to cause a shift in color and premature fading. "Avoid any laser, chemical peels, and any creams containing Retin-A or Glycolic acid on the face and neck.," Yagamuchi advises.
Before and After
The Final Takeaway
Semi-permanent brow styling takes off the added stress of filling in your brows every day. Ombré brows are a great option for natural, fuller brows, and finding a skilled artist is the key to owning a flawless style.
Not sure you want to commit? Give it a try at home by blending both light and slightly darker brow pencils. We like Anastasia's Brow Wiz ($23) and Glossier's Boy Brow ($16) in Clear to set your brows. Simply stroke sparingly into the brow, filling in sparse spots and applying the most attention to the arch.