When I first started to hear people talk about microblading, I assumed it was some kind of extreme winter sport, probably performed on ice skates of some kind.
Then I discovered it was actually a technique used to tattoo your eyebrows – but in a good way, not a scary way – and all of a sudden, I was a lot more interested.
I was also, however, pretty wary. Microblading is a type of semi-permanent tattoo, in which pigment is inserted into the skin in a series of tiny, realistic-looking hair strokes, designed to mimic the look of natural eyebrow hair. It lasts for at least a year, and is slowly starting to replace things like waxing or HD Brows as the brow treatment of choice – buuuut it’s still technically a tattoo, isn’t it? On your face. Which is probably the very LAST place most of us would ever choose to have a tattoo.
Why choose microblading?
Despite this, I was still intrigued enough to start researching the treatment further. Apologies in advance to regular readers who’ve heard all this before, but my eyebrows are basically the bane of my life, and have been for YEARS. They’re a particularly inconvenient combination of bushy-with-bald-spots: the bushiness is natural, the bald spots are the unfortunate result of years and years of over-plucking on my part. Thanks, Teenage Amber: hate you, too!
Over the years, I’ve tried various different treatments to try to get my brows looking even halfway “normal” – so, in addition to all of that at-home tweezing, I’ve also had them professionally waxed and threaded, plus a couple of HD Brows treatments, too. All of these things have worked, to an extent: the problem with all of them, however, is that while they can be used to shape the hair that’s already there, they can’t do much to replace the hair my teenage/early-twenties self tweezed into oblivion, so, no matter what I did, my eyebrows were never going to be perfect, and I was always going to have to keep pencilling them in every morning.
(Oh, and all of those treatments have to be repeated at regular intervals if you want to maintain the brows they create for you. Microblading, of course, ALSO has to be repeated regularly, but we’re talking years rather than weeks here, and I can definitely live with that…)
Over the last year or so, my eyebrows have been worse than ever, to the point that I was basically having to re-invent them every morning by penciling them in: a process which, thanks to my total ineptitude in this department would end up taking twice as long as the rest of my makeup routine put together. With a small baby to look after, I just don’t have the time for those kind of shenanigans right now, so microblading started to seem even more appealing – if only for the fact that it would basically cut my morning routine in half.
I was, however, still pretty apprehensive. I know big, dramatic eyebrows are super-trendy right now but I was looking for something a lot more natural – a “my eyebrows, but better” look, basically. I really just wanted to fill in the bald spots and smooth out the outline, without looking like I’d had anything done, so I started to research salons and beauty therapists.
Choosing a beauty therapist
I must have spent HOURS on this, seriously. Luckily, I was helped out here by the fact that most of the salons and therapists who offer microblading tend to have photo galleries on their websites, showing before and after photos of their microblading clients. I lost count of how many of these I scrolled through, but honestly, I don’t think you can do too much research when it comes to making a (semi) permanent change to your face, do you? I discounted quite a few salons this way, purely because all of the “after” photos made the clients look like someone had drawn their brows on with sharpies: finally, though, I came across what appeared to be simply a gallery of people with really good eyebrows, and I knew I’d hit the jackpot.
(My chosen therapist works from home, and advertises through Facebook, so I’m not comfortable posting her details here. If you’re in the central Scotland area and looking for a recommendation, though, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll pass on her details!)
(EDIT: Since writing this post, Nikki has let me know she’s happy for me to post her details here, so you’ll find her Facebook page here! )
I was still a little worried, though. As a natural redhead, I know my hair colour can be a tricky one to match, so, before booking my appointment and handing over a deposit, I sent Nikki a quick message letting her know what I was looking for – i.e. a very natural look, rather than the “Sharpie” effect – and attaching a recent photo of my brows, which, OK, was pretty cringey, but which at least let the poor woman know what she up against. Luckily, she replied right away to say it wouldn’t be a problem, and that she was sure she could match the colour… which is how I came to find myself, two weeks later, lying on a treatment bed, waiting to have my eyebrows tattooed on. GULP.
The microblading process
The first – and arguably most important – part of the microblading process involves drawing in the shape of the brows. This is why it’s so important to choose someone you trust to carry out this procedure: I mean, anyone can be trained to do micoblading, but it takes a bit of artistry, and an eye for facial aesthetics, to be able to create great-looking brows, so I was reassured by the amount of time Nikki spent on this. Once she was done, I sat up and had a look at the shape before she got started with the actual microblading: I was totally happy with what she’d done, but obviously this is your chance to make any changes, if necessary.
With that done, I lay back down and braced myself for the pain.
“Is it painful?” is the question I’ve had most often since having this done, and the answer, unfortunately is YES: this is, after all, a technique that uses tiny needles to inject pigment into the skin, so you ARE going to feel it. Sorry.
The good news, however, is that, although it hurts, it’s not unbearable – or, at least, I didn’t find it to be. I guess the best comparison I can give you here is with eyebrow threading – the pain is pretty similar to that, only, with threading, you get a split second of pain before the threads are removed again, whereas with microblading, the needles are in contact with the skin for a few seconds at time, so you’ll feel the pain for longer. Once the initial strokes were made, however, Nikki applied a numbing cream to my brows (She explained that the cream doesn’t really work on unbroken skin, which is why it isn’t applied right from the start), and it immediately got less painful: in fact, my biggest issue was actually the very bright light shining in my eyes, which made them water the whole time! (My eyes were closed, obviously, but they’re very, very light-sensitive, so, even then I had to stop myself putting my hand up to my face to shield them from the light…)
A few things to note, here:
01. My left eye hurt much more than the right, which Nikki told me is not uncommon.
02. You might sneeze. If you tweeze your eyebrows, you’ve probably already experienced the sneeze-reflex which is linked to your brows, and that’s also present during the microblading process. I actually DIDN’T sneeze, but I felt like I was going to the whole time, so be prepared for that. I did, however, have one other side-effect, which was that…
03. My left leg kept twitching while the corresponding eyebrow was being worked on. Nikki told me she’s only had one other client do that, so I’m not sure how common it is, but it’s one more thing to be aware of, although it’s more of a curiosity, really, than anything else.
The entire process took around an hour and half, including the consultation, and drawing in the shape, and, when I was done, Nikki had me stand up and move around a bit while looking at my new brows, to make sure I was completely happy with them. (This is actually really important as obviously your skin is pulled back while you’re lying down, so you have to also check what it looks like when you’re standing up!) Now, I know this post would be pretty useless without some before and after shots, but I have to apologise for the quality of mine, because I did a spectacularly bad job of them. The ‘before’ shots were taken with my phone, at around 5am, on the morning of my appointment, because that’s when I remembered to do it:
Oh, hai, ancient towel-turban!
And, although I DID try to take some decent-quality ‘after’ shots, I had a really limited amount of time to do it (Thanks, Max!), and it was only when I looked back at them that I realised none of them actually showed the eyebrows half as well as the super-posey selfies I took in my dressing gown the morning after the treatment:
Yeah. These will be some fun photos to explain to Max when he’s older, no?
Bad though they are, though, hopefully these will at least demonstrate the difference the microblading made. The colour has faded a little since these were taken, which I was warned would happen: I have a top-up appointment booked for 4 weeks after the first one, at which Nikki will go over them again, and make any changes I feel are needed after I’ve had the chance to live with them for a few weeks – this is included in the price, and seems to be the standard procedure with microblading, as the colour will fade a little after the initial application, at which point any issues will become more evident. So far, I’ve noticed a couple of tiny remaining bald spots I’d like to have filled in, but other than that, I’m absolutely delighted with the results, which are exactly what I was looking for – i.e. they look “done” but not OVER-done, and the colour-match is perfect, too, which was a huge relief!
The best part about this, however, is the fact that, as anticipated, it’s really reduced the amount of time I have to spend doing my makeup in the morning. I love the fact that I now wake up with eyebrows, and don’t have to invent them myself with an eyebrow pencil, and even although the treatment isn’t cheap (I paid £170, which included a discount thanks to a special offer the therapist had running: it’s normally £190, but obviously this will vary from salon to salon), I’m already 100% sure I’ll be having it done again when it starts to fade – I think it’s one of those treatments that, one you’ve had it, there’s just no going back!
In terms of aftercare, I was sent away with a small tub of cream, and instructions to apply it regularly while my brows healed. Obviously as the skin is being cut, it will have to heal, but I have to confess, I totally forgot to use the cream after the first two days, and all I’ve had is a tiny amount of flaking, so no big deal. I will obviously still have to tweeze any stray hairs that pop up (My brows would literally join in the middle if I let them…) so they’re not totally maintenance-free, but now that the basic shape is in place, tweezing is much easier, as I can just go around the outline that’s already there, rather than trying to shape them myself and making a mess of it.
In short? Possibly the best £170 I’ve ever spent on a beauty treatment or product, and something I can totally recommend, if, like me, you REALLY hate your brows, and are sick to death of having to draw them in every day. I’m still, however, looking for more ways to make my morning routine a little more low-maintenance, so next up? I’ll try LVL Lashes so you don’t have to: stay tuned, folks…