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Microblading is a cosmetic procedure in which semi-permanent tattooing is used to give the appearance of eyebrow hair.
It is not regulated by the FDA. As a result, it is important that you only get the procedure from a reputable professional with verified credentials.
While there is an argument that more research should be done on the procedure, current evidence suggests microblading is about as safe as other semi-permanent tattooing procedures.
What Areas Can Be Microbladed?
Microblading is a procedure typically only associated with the eyebrows. It can help produce the appearance of hair using ink on any part of the eyebrow, which is typically broken into four parts:
- Head: This is the part of the eyebrow closest to the center of the face. It is typically the broadest section and has the most vertically directed hair.
- Body: This is the area that typically makes up the bulk of the eyebrow, spanning from the head to the arch.
- Arch: This is the part of the eyebrow that begins to taper off into what will become the tail.
- Tail: This is the narrowest part of the eyebrow, usually producing a pointed effect on the end opposite the head of the eyebrow.
Is Microblading Safe?
Microblading is not well-regulated. The FDA has not approved any of the specifics of the procedure used or any pigments used to simulate the effect of hair. Some cosmetic-grade pigments have been approved for other uses, but not for tattooing.
Experts recommend choosing an artist that has the associated state licenses to perform this kind of procedure. You may also want to look for certifications from reputable organizations, such as the Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals.
Make sure to research any professional you want to use for microblading and the reliability of their credentials. Their ability as an artist is going to highly affect the effectiveness and safety of your procedure.
While more research is needed, microblading is logically as safe as most other tattooing procedures. Performed by an expert with clean, high-quality equipment and pigments, serious complications are unlikely. Potential problems that may develop are discussed below.
Risks & Complications of Microblading
As a cosmetic tattooing procedure, one risk that is more emotionally distressing than medically alarming is that an artist using semi-permanent ink may not have the skill to produce the effect you want. This is why choosing a skilled artist is important.
Face tattoos of any kind are visible to everyone. Most people want only high-quality work displayed in this area, especially considering microblading is meant to simulate the look of real eyebrows.
While it is a type of tattooing, this procedure is only semi-permanent. It lasts about one to three years, so any permanent disfigurement in a botched procedure is unlikely except in extreme cases.
Because of its semi-permanent nature, it is possible for scarring to build up over time with microblading, making future procedures more difficult or not viable. Again, only use the services of a skilled artist for these procedures to reduce the potential for any complications caused by scarring.
These are some relatively common medical complications associated with tattooing, of which microblading is one type:
- Allergic reaction
The risk of infection or inflammation is reduced sharply with proper attention to hygiene procedures from an artist. Additionally, the spread of serious infections like hepatitis that have commonly been associated with tattooing in the past has decreased significantly with more state oversight and a general increase in awareness of the health risks associated with tattooing.
While the procedure is called microblading and the tool used looks superficially like a sharp knife, it is actually an array of tiny needles. Like with other tattooing procedures, an artist dips these needles in ink. Then, the needles are used to make small, precise incisions to color the skin in such a way as to produce the appearance of hair.
Sometimes, an artist may apply a topical anesthesia cream to make the procedure slightly less painful for the client. Even without this cream, the procedure anecdotally is described more as uncomfortable than outright painful. Some microblading professionals describe it as similar to the pain associated with threading the eyebrows.
Once the procedure is complete, the client will then wait for a few minutes to help their skin retain the pigment. A touch-up appointment should occur in two to three weeks, as the initial effect needs time to heal and fade somewhat before an artist can fully finish the look.
Recovery From Microblading
Recovery after microblading is fairly straightforward. For the first two days, avoid getting the face wet or touching your eyebrows. You should not exercise or shower.
Scabbing and itching are normal in this initial healing stage. Do not pick or peel at scabs, as this can lead to more serious injury and scarring.
For the first week, avoid makeup in the area. Only wash with water as necessary. Avoid all skincare products during this time, such as these:
- Anti-aging creams
After the first week, you can begin resuming a more traditional routine. Facewash can now be used. After two weeks, activities such as swimming and visiting a sauna are unlikely to cause any issues.
Waxing and threading should be avoided until a full six weeks have passed, at which point the healing process is essentially complete.
Experts at Cosmopolitan put the average cost of this procedure between $500 and $2,000. Busier, more talented artists will typically garner higher rates.
When discussing cost, remember to ask if recommended measures like the initial touch-up are included in that price. If it’s not included, the touch-up should typically cost less than the initial visit.
This is a cosmetic procedure, not approved by the FDA, and will not be covered by insurance. Some providers may offer payment plans, so the procedure is more affordable for those who can’t pay the entire cost at once.
How long does microblading last?
Microblading can last anywhere from one to three years. With some skin types, microblading results fade faster than others. Dry skin usually holds pigment the longest, with oily skin losing pigment much faster.
It is rare that a person needs a touch-up (beyond the recommended initial one) sooner than 12 months after getting the procedure.
Does microblading damage your eyebrows?
Microblading has not been linked to damaged eyebrows, although some experts feel more research should be done on this subject. At present, there isn’t evidence that it affects hair growth.
The closest known issue related to damage is that microblading, especially by an unskilled technician, can cause scarring that makes future microblading more difficult. Regardless, this has not been shown to affect actual hair growth.
Eyebrow Microblading: Everything You Need To Know Before You Try It. (August 2017). Vogue.
Medical Complications of Tattoos: A Comprehensive Review. (April 2016). Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology.
Microblading 101: Everything You Need to Know Before Your Appointment. (April 2021). Cosmopolitan.
Microblading and the Science Behind It. (January 2021). Indian Dermatology Online Journal.
A Rare Case of Microblading-Induced Preseptal Cellulitis. (October 2021). JAAD Case Reports.