Meet Nanoblading: The Ultra-Precise Brow Alternative to Microblading

The latest and greatest in brow treatments.

Nano blading eyebrows on woman model

@studiosashiko / Instagram

When it comes to the beauty-tech revolution, Drake said it best—what a time to be alive. Virtually every other day yields a new product packed with the latest and greatest in formula ingredients, an innovative service, or new technology. Take the world of permanent makeup, for example—just as the hype around eyebrow microblading hits a fever pitch, a newer, more concentrated, and uber-precise version of the technique is here to possibly usurp it forever. Named for the ultra-fine needles used to ink on impossibly lifelike brow hairs, "nanoblading" is the latest method for achieving true "woke up like this" brows.

But as is the case with anything that can't be wiped away with a soap-soaked washcloth, it's crucial to know the ins and outs of nanoblading before committing to an appointment—and a brow shape. To help navigate the new technique, Byrdie's tapped Shaughnessy Otsuji, Owner and Restorative Tattoo Artist at Studio Sashiko. Otsuji's ultra-exact work has earned her tens of thousands of followers, all eagerly locked in on her Instagram that showcases everything from a spot-on Dwight Schrute portrait to tattoos for breast cancer survivors. Here, Otsuji walks us through the world of nanoblading.

Meet the Expert

Shaughnessy Otsuji is the Owner and Restorative Tattoo Artist at Studio Sashiko.

What Is Nanoblading?

Similar to microblading, nanoblading is a form of brow tattooing that implements a handheld tattoo machine tool and one very fine needle (as opposed to microblading, which uses several) to semi-permanently lay pigment under the skin, approximating the look of actual eyebrow hairs.

Just like with microblading, the dermal pigment is designed to fade over time to allow for future augmentation—though microbladed brows fade faster than nano brows because the pigment is placed more superficially under the skin.

Benefits of Nanoblading

Nanoblading comes with a number of potential brow benefits

  • Lasts longer than microblading
  • Helps brows appear fuller
  • Customizable for each individual
  • Nanoblading tools allow for more controlled application than microblading for ultra-precise hair strokes

How Long Does It Last?

The upside of nano brows versus micro brows is how long they stick around on the skin. Where microblading lasts around 1-2 years due to the depth of the pigment placement, nanoblading can last up to three years—though the timeframe is largely dependent on the pigment color, depth, ink type, intensity of work, and the client's skin. Oily skin, for example, Otsuji says, may fade nano brows faster because oily skin by nature has a quicker cell turnover rate. "Touch-ups are usually required once every year or two to keep the brows looking fresh," she adds, making nano brows a long-term commitment.

Nanoblading Vs. Microblading

"The design of the tool used with nano brows tends to cause less trauma to the skin and allows for more precise pressure and controlled movement to create crisp hair strokes," Otsuji explains to Byrdie. "With Microblading, the procedure is slightly more invasive as the tool has a blade that cuts into the skin—due to this, the skill level of the artist become slightly more important towards achieving a natural-looking result."

Like most tattoos and cosmetic procedures alike, the price of nanoblading largely depends on geographic location, techniques used, and the artist's level of expertise—and reputation. Typically, the service starts at around $500 and can climb to $2000 or more. One major consideration to factor in is the cost of post-nanoblading maintenance. Because of the semi-permanent ink, annual or biannual maintenance appointments are required but Otsuji says they're generally offered at a reduced price.

What to Expect

Before committing to nano brows, Otsuji encourages thorough research to make sure both the technique and artist align with your skin's needs and desired results. At Otsuji's Studio Sashiko, each eyebrow tattoo is entirely customized and individualized to suit each client, a bar to consider mentally setting for any studio before scheduling an appointment. "We strive to create the most realistic results by adding strategic details and dimension that complement their natural features and choosing colors that suit their skin best," she says.

According to Otsuji, a typical nanoblading session runs between 2-4 hours, with the first half of the appointment dominated by consultation and brow design. It's then that the client and artist discuss everything from desired brow shape, style, and size to deciding the right pigments and shades. "An assessment of the client’s skin type is also important to determine if there may be more technical skill required to achieve the end result," she adds. Once a "before" photo is snapped, a special pencil is used to temporarily draw on each hair stroke for final review and approval before actually beginning the inking process. If you've ever had a regular body tattoo, you'll be familiar with this pre-draw stage—it's like when your tattoo artist places that temporary applique where the art will go.

Once it's time for the procedure itself, a topical anesthetic is applied (Otsuji cites Zensa as one commonly used numbing agent) and the machine is prepared. "A single moving needle and machine is used to slowly implant pigment into the skin," Otsuji says, and "this process can take some time as each individual stroke is meticulously drawn using the tattoo machine. Once the brow shape is filled with nano strokes, the client will take a look and discuss any additions." For example, if the desired effect is a much darker, fluffier, or overall fuller-looking brow, more nano strokes can be layered in a follow-up appointment so as to not excessively irritate the skin.

How to Prepare

While microblading is best suited for those with normal to dry skin, the beauty of nanoblading technology is that it's available for far more skin types. People with very oily, scarred, textured, or thick skin can be great candidates for the technique, as well as those with previously tattooed brows who may be looking for corrective work, Otsuji says. Both microblading and nanoblading are ideal for anyone looking for easy, budge-proof brows as no amount of sweat, water, or contact will rub them off.

One point to not stress over? The pain level. While tattoos, in general, are usually at least somewhat painful, the typical numbing creams used for brow tattoos mitigate that almost entirely. "Nano brows can be mildly uncomfortable but is rarely considered painful or unbearable," Otsuji confirms. She says that while there will be some minor redness and swelling immediately following the procedure, it should subside within a day or two.

Side Effects

Nanoblading comes with a few of the same side effects as microblading. For one, the color may degrade over time, so touchups are occasionally needed. Scabs post-procedure are common as your brows heal. Otsuji also notes that peeling a few days after the procedure is often part of the healing process. However, proper aftercare can help minimize these effects.


Strict adherence to artist-prescribed aftercare is crucial for proper healing, both for your skin and the look of your new brows. While your artist will tell you exactly what to do for your lifestyle, region, and tattoo, sweating, sun exposure, swimming, and makeup/skincare is strictly off-limits for at least two weeks. "At Studio Sashiko, we recommend keeping your fresh brows clean by regularly blotting the area with a damp paper towel or sterile water wipe, and then gently patting dry afterward," Otsuji suggests. "This will help remove any excess build-up of lymph, pigment, or oil to reduce the amount of scabbing that occurs."

She says to expect some light peeling starting around 3-7 days after the procedure, but under no circumstances (though it's very tempting) should it be picked at, pulled, exfoliated, or scrubbed. After you're fully healed, Otsuji recommends continuing to steer clear of chemical exfoliants or sun exposure in that area—this will help maintain the integrity of the nano brows so they last even longer.

The Final Takeaway

If you have the means to access a qualified artist, nano brows can be the solution to daily brow-building woes—pencils, waxes, pomades, and soap become obsolete when you have a pair of perfect custom brows. But because they last so long, it's worth thinking long and hard about (especially the subsequent years of touchups) before taking the plunge. One thing's for certain, though: at the rate semi-permanent makeup techniques are evolving, we're looking at an eyebrow revolution.

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