Eyebrows might just be the most important facial feature. A beautiful set of brows can frame the entire face and direct all the attention exactly where you want it: your eyes. But if you're guilty of over-plucking (oh, if only we could go back and tell our high school selves to put the tweezers down!) or have a naturally uneven set (darn that one eye that always looks angry!) — or if every photo of Cara Delevingne gives you uncontrollable brow-envy (that would be Us) — you may be considering your options for getting a little boost in the brow department.
The term "microblading" has been floating around the beauty space for years, but many people still don't know what it's all about. Celebrities have certainly caught on: Madonna recently had her eyebrows microbladed, and Bella Thorne even Snapchatted her entire procedure. But what exactly happens when you get microbladed? Is it different from getting eyebrow tattoos? And how much does it cost?
To get the skinny on the treatment that'll make your brows, er, not so skinny, Stylish chatted with microblading expert Kendra Bray, founder and owner of Better Brows NYC. Here's everything we learned about microblading:
It's technically a type of tattoo, but it's very different from what you'd expect.
The difference between an eyebrow tattoo and microblading? "That's the number one question I always get," Bray tells Us. She explains that an eyebrow tattoo is a permanent procedure, which uses a machine to penetrate pigment deep into the skin. Microblading involves using a hand tool with nine or more tiny needles to create shallower cuts on the skin and then letting pigment seep in. Microblading lasts only one to three years depending on your skin's pigment retention — and for someone who's a bit squeamish about making a permanent change, that just may be the ideal amount of commitment!
The results are made to look super natural.
"Whereas a permanent eyebrow tattoo is a thick, unnatural-looking solid line," explains Bray, "with a microblading needle we have much more control over what we're doing." The end result, she says, "is crisp, hairlike strokes."
It can be a solution for a wide variety of issues.
While people with thin, sparse or no brows are the most common microblading candidates, Bray says, "I also have people with very beautiful, envy-worthy brows come in to see me." Those clients typically just want to correct some asymmetry, or perfect the look they already have.
Give yourself extra time for the appointment to ensure the best results.
A typical appointment is around two hours, Bray says, but the actual microblading only happens in the last 15 to 30 minutes. Before taking needle to face, "I take a lot of measurements," explains Bray. "We draw the outline and it's very much a conversation because I want the client to be completely comfortable before we move to the next step." Just measuring and perfecting the look can take up to an hour! After that, it takes 30 minutes for the numbing cream to sit — and you don't want to skimp on that part of the process if you want a painless procedure.
Don't book your appointment for after a night of partying…
"If you are drinking alcohol in excess before coming in or the night before, it'll just cause you to bleed more," explains Bray. That can negatively impact your results. "If you're bleeding a lot," she notes, "the pigment won't be able to penetrate into the skin."
… and don't book your appointment for before a day at the beach.
For the best results, aftercare is key. "The first couple of days are the most important because the incisions are still open," says Bray. "Until they start to heal, you want to make sure you're not getting the brows wet or soaking them. So don't do it if you're leaving the next day to go on a tropical vacation!"
It hurts more for some people than for others.
"There is some discomfort to the procedure," Bray warns, noting that everyone's pain level is slightly different. "I use two different numbing creams," she says, "a long-lasting one that sits for 30 minutes prior to the procedure, and a second fast-acting one while we're doing the microblading." It's good to anticipate some pain, but Bray promises: "I have never had a client that got off the table and said they couldn't do it!"
It's a bit of a splurge.
Bray explains that while she charges $699 for the initial appointment, plus a free touch-up at around four weeks, prices across the country can range from $500 to $1600. Still, if you're tired of filling in your brows every day, but you want the freedom to be able to change your look every few years, this procedure might be the perfect investment. And there's an added bonus: After getting your eyebrows microbladed, you may find yourself putting all your makeup brushes down. Clients with fierce microbladed eyebrows often don't feel the need to wear much additional makeup at all, says Bray: "When your brows are groomed and perfected, you just have a more awake, polished look!"
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