What Is Microblading? An Expert Answers All of Your Questions

Those of us who fill in our eyebrows every day know how much of a hassle it can be, especially when you just can't seem to get the shape right or use too much product and have to pivot. Whether your brows are naturally super thin, lacking shape, or still recovering from the '90s and early 2000s thin eyebrow trend, using a brow pencil, brow gel, or brow pomade can help create the brows of your dreams. However, the results are very short-lived. You've probably wondered: what is microblading and can it help my brows?

Microblading is a semipermanent option for those who are eager to stop using brow products every single day. While it's sometimes referred to as a tattoo for your eyebrows, the results won't last forever, and the entire process isn't too painful or time-consuming.

If you've been considering microblading or have an interest in learning more about it, you're in luck. We spoke with board-certified dermatologist Alexandra Bowles, MD, to find out how long the results last, what the entire process looks like, and how long microblading takes to heal. Keep reading to get the expert scoop.

What Is Microblading Eyebrows?

Eyebrow microblading is a cosmetic technique that deposits tattoo-like color to the eyebrows to help enhance and reshape them. When getting it done, the practitioner will use a small, fine-point needle to deposit pigment into the superficial layers of the skin.

"Unlike traditional eyebrow tattoos that use a machine, microblading is done by hand, which allows the practitioner to create fine, hair-like strokes that mimic the natural pattern of the eyebrow," Dr. Bowles tells PS.

Is Microblading Permanent?

"It is important to note that microblading is considered a semipermanent procedure, meaning the pigment will gradually fade over time and may need to be refreshed with touch-up sessions to maintain the desired appearance," Dr. Bowles says, adding that the frequency of touch-ups will depend on individual factors and personal preferences.

There's also a level of risk associated with microbladed brows. "Improper technique and poor-quality pigment can leave behind a less-than-ideal color to the skin. I have seen this in a few patients who required laser treatments to attempt to remove the pigment, which is difficult to do in a hair-bearing area as laser removal can also cause permanent hair loss," she explains. "I caution all of my patients to make sure that their microblading is performed by an experienced professional using a high-quality product."

If It's Not Permanent, How Long Does Microblading Last?

Typically, microblading will last between one to three years. However, this can vary for each individual. "Those with oily skin might find that their pigment fades a bit more quickly versus those with less oily skin," Dr. Bowles says. "In order to get the most out of your microblading treatment, it's important to follow specific aftercare instructions." This can include moisturizing properly and avoiding activities such as swimming and excessive sweating — this can help the pigment last longer.

"Other factors that determine the longevity of the pigment include your exposure to sunlight, your body's own healing process from the procedure, and the quality of the pigment," she explains. "A combination of using a quality sunscreen, working with your practitioner to determine if any touch-ups need to be done, and finding a qualified practitioner to perform the service all play a major factor in the longevity of the service."

How Much Is Microblading?

The cost of microblading can depend on several factors, such as the city you live in, the experience of the practitioner, and more. Dr. Bowles says, on average, the cost for the procedure can range from $500-$1,000.

Does Microblading Hurt?

The pain level of microblading can vary from person to person based on individual pain tolerance, the skill of the technician, and the techniques used. "Generally, most people describe the sensation of microblading as uncomfortable rather than painful," Dr. Bowles says.

"In most cases, a topical anesthetic will be applied to aid in numbing the area. You will most likely feel the strokes of the pigment being deposited onto the skin," she adds. "Be sure to communicate to your practitioner if you have any discomfort during the procedure. To ensure a more comfortable and positive microblading experience, it's important to choose a skilled and experienced technician who uses high-quality tools and techniques."

What Is the Microblading Process Like?

The process of getting your eyebrows microbladed can vary depending on the practitioner you are seeing; however, most of the time it will begin with a consultation before the actual procedure begins. This will include your ideal eyebrow shape, color of the pigment, and the general look you're interested in. You'll probably have your eyebrows assessed to customize the treatment to your facial features and based on your desired outcome.

"Following the consultation, the topical numbing agent will be applied, allowing it to take full effect before beginning," Dr. Bowles says. "While that sets, your practitioner may map out your eyebrows and ensure your pigment aligns with your eyebrow, skin, and hair color."

Then, using a sterile, handheld tool with fine-point needles, the technician will carefully map out and shape the eyebrow according to the design you both agreed upon. "This involves creating precise, hair-like strokes that mimic the natural growth pattern of the eyebrow hairs," Dr. Bowles explains. "The technician may also use a special pencil or marker to outline the shape and arch of the eyebrows before starting the microblading process."

Once your eyebrows are mapped and shaped, the technician will use the handheld tool to deposit the chosen pigment into the superficial layers of the skin — creating fine, crisp, and natural-looking strokes. "An experienced technician will work meticulously to fill in sparse areas, define the shape, and enhance the overall appearance of the eyebrows," Dr. Bowles says. "Throughout the microblading process, the technician will periodically apply more pigment to the eyebrows, allowing it to penetrate the skin and create lasting results."

Your technician will also ensure that the pigment is evenly distributed and that the strokes blend seamlessly with the natural eyebrow hairs. Dr. Bowles explains that the entire treatment typically takes about two to three hours to complete, depending on the complexity of the design and the individual's needs.

What Is the Microblading Healing Process Like?

Given that the procedure involves the use of small yet fine-point needles, you can expect a bit of swelling and redness immediately after the procedure, just as you would with any other invasive procedure.

"You may even notice your skin adjust over time to the procedure and show signs of scabbing, flaking, itchiness, darkening, or even fading," Dr. Bowles says. "This is all part of the healing process, and over time, your skin will adjust and the pigment will lighten as it settles in. You should then start to see the final result."

If you have any concerns or questions or feel like your skin isn't healing well, it's best to follow up with your practitioner.

Microblading Aftercare

Just like with all procedures, aftercare is a crucial part of the process to ensure proper healing and long-lasting results. "General guidelines include keeping the eyebrows clean and dry for 24-48 hours following the procedure," Dr. Bowles says. "This includes keeping the eyebrows dry to allow for them to heal. Additionally, applying an ointment will help keep the skin moisturized and protected."

Similar to any procedure on the skin, you'll want to avoid excess exposure to the sun – direct sunlight, tanning beds, and more. Dr. Bowles advises applying plenty of sunscreen and even covering the eye area for added protection.

"Aftercare will also include refraining from applying makeup and skincare products for at least one week following the procedure," she explains. "Not doing so could interfere with the healing process. This is also a good time to simply be gentle with your skin, such as not rubbing your eyes or causing any additional irritation to the skin."

Sydney Wingfield has been a freelance writer in the beauty and wellness space for six years. She has written for Women's Health, Marie Claire, Glamour, and other publications and loves to cover all things skin care, makeup, and hair.