Permanent Makeup & Microblading FAQ
You have questions, I have answers!
Microblading, also known as Eyebrow Embroidery, Microstroke, feather brows, or 3d Hair Stroke brows is simply one of several techniques or styles of Permanent Makeup for the eyebrows. We have other looks or styles of permanent brow makeup available as well, typically known as Ombre or Powder styles.
In the Microblading style, by using a manual hand-held tool which holds a grouping or configuration of a tiny row of needles (and not a blade or scalpel as the name would imply), delicate, hair-like strokes of pigment are created in the skin to attempt to mimic the look of natural brow hairs with spaces of skin showing in between. Manual methods of tattooing have been used through the ages, and the tools have gone through changes over time from pre-historic sharpened stones to the modern hand tool devices currently being used. Any hand tool device (i.e., both handle and attached needles) used for microblading should be pre-sterilized and fully disposable. Check with any artist you’re considering that they are also disposing of the handles after every procedure!
With the sudden popularity and media attention to the term Microblading and Permanent Makeup, many are led to believe it is not a tattoo process or that it is temporary. Permanent cosmetics, micropigmentation, dermal implantation, microblading/microstroking, eyebrow embroidery, semi-permanent makeup and long-time/long-lasting makeup, are all different names for the same procedure – cosmetic tattooing. Any time color is placed into the skin with any device, it is a tattoo process as defined by many well-informed regulators, the medical community, and dictionary sources. Denying this process is a tattoo can be problematic for those who would, for religious or other personal reasons, normally refuse to have a tattoo.
Some are promoting Microblading or eyebrow embroidery as a semi-permanent process; and claiming that the color only reaches the epidermal (outer) layer of the skin. A careful review of basic skin anatomy and physiology would reveal this is not true. By definition and tattoo industry standards, color is tattooed/implanted into the dermis of the skin. If pigment particles do not reach the dermis, they will slough off and disappear during the healing phase of the skin, and during normal regeneration of cells at the epidermal level. Pigments do fade in the skin over time, but that does not make the process semi-permanent. It is impossible to predict how much pigment will fade away and how long it will take to do so with any measure of consistency or reliability. Our advice is to think of this as permanent – there will always be some shadow of color left in the skin, even after some years of fading without regular touch-ups or color boosts to add fresh pigment.
This is simply because a much smaller amount of pigment is inserted (tattooed) into the skin as compared to fully or solidly filled eyebrow tattoos. Microblading has a shorter lifespan than solid powder-fill eyebrows, and depending on factors such as chosen pigment (lighter pigments require more maintenance), your unique skin’s biology and lifestyle factors (such as sun exposure, medications, tinting the brows with peroxide-based hair color, the use of anti-aging skin care ingredients and treatments such as peels or lasers), you may need a touch-up or color boost as early as six to ten months after the procedure, with the average touch-up visit being done at twelve months. Other techniques or styles (such as Ombre or Powder look) may last twelve months to two years before a touch-up is needed.
All techniques of permanent cosmetics are considered LOW maintenance, but not NO maintenance. IF YOU DO NOT TOUCH IT UP in one to three years it may be faded, and it has the potential to turn different warm or cool colors, it may be blurred out or uneven looking as it fades. This happens and this is normal! This is why periodic touch-ups are done to make sure that this does not happen and your permanent makeup continues to look fresh. PLEASE BE AWARE OF THIS. This is not something that any technician has control over.
It is also a fact that, over the years of receiving color boost touch-ups, especially if done every 9 to 12 months instead of waiting longer, hair strokes tend to blur under the skin and become a more solid, powdery look. This is the nature of human skin itself and cannot be avoided. You’ll still have a beautiful brow, just not as crisp as the first time. Any technician who claims it’ll stay exactly the same over the years is simply selling you something and not being honest, or doesn’t have the experience to see what hair strokes look like five years down the road. Many clients happily convert to a softer, longer lasting Ombre or Powder style after a few years.
- If you have combination to oily or very oily skin, the hair strokes will often times heal to a blurred, almost powdery look. Crisp, defined hair strokes are not guaranteed on this type of skin and you should expect that after a few touch-up appointments you will need to transition to a power brow style instead.
- If you have large pores or deep wrinkling in the brow area
- If your brows have been tattooed previously, because of color saturation and scar tissue, hair strokes may not be able to be obtained. The old pigment should be almost completely faded away. Please schedule a consultation FIRST and Tara will be able to tell you whether or not you are a candidate for the Microblading hair stroke technique.
- If you are a Fitzpatrick scale 3-6 (usually medium to dark skinned Hispanic, Middle Eastern or African American), the hair strokes may not be as visible as they are on lighter skin tones or heal as crisp as expected and another technique would better suit you.
- If you’re accustomed to filling in your brows with a solid powder or pencil makeup look, and want that same defined look every day, Microblading will not provide that look. You’ll feel that they look somewhat “unfinished” and want to add makeup over the hair strokes. An Ombre or Powder style is what you’re looking for! Just as beautiful, but more defined.
If you are expecting the result of Microblading to look like you filled your eyebrows in with powder or pencil and to have the same crisp edges that makeup provides – you may be disappointed. Microblading is meant to emulate the look of real, natural brow hairs, with all the little gaps of skin showing in between the hairs! If you don’t like the look of a natural, makeup-free eyebrow, you may find Microblading is too natural in appearance for you. Tara has other options such as a combination technique of Microblading with a soft, powder background, or an Ombre or Powder fill that will look more defined. It’s important to know that not every technique will suit every person and Tara will advise you as to what will work best on your skin.
Once you have made the decision to have Permanent Cosmetics applied you have the important task of finding a qualified technician to do the work for you. This is a critical decision. Locate a technician in the same manner you would a doctor, dentist, etc. Since there are no uniform regulations in the country, it is mandatory you learn as much as possible about the industry so you can determine who is a qualified professional in this field. Remember you are altering your appearance permanently so it is important you make your decision carefully and do not base the decision on price.
- It is important you visit the site where the work will be done. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set standards for physical cleanliness and a sanitary working environment. Does the location you are visiting meet this outward criteria? Is there hot and cold running water on the premises other than in a rest-room? Is the work being done in a private room where other contaminants, such as acrylic nail dust, cannot circulate in the air?
- Is the technician registered with the county Health Department? Do they have their Body Art technician registration certificate on display in the work area? Remember that Body Art licensing is different from Cosmetology and Skin Care licensing, and just because someone is a licensed Hair Stylist, Manicurist or Esthetician under the CA State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology it does not mean that they have been properly licensed under the county Health Department for Permanent Cosmetics/Body Art! Health Department registration is a separate requirement under California state law.
- Is the facility or shop registered with the county Health Department? Is the facility registration certificate on display?
- Is the technician clean and neat? Do they use new gloves for every client? Do they use disposable coverings on the bed or chair and are they replaced after every client? Are surfaces to be touched during the procedure wrapped in barrier film to prevent contamination? Are the technician’s nails clean and short?
- Most importantly, to prevent the transmission of diseases, do they use new sterile needles and equipment with each client? Are needles and equipment fully disposable? Are any metal handles Autoclaved or disposed of after use?
- Ask about the technician’s background. How long have they been in the industry and how many procedures have they done? Ask about certificates of training and continuing education. Since this field is rapidly evolving, regular continuing education is a must. For someone relatively new to the industry, ask how many hours of training they have had. How many hands-on procedures did they perform during training class? A one day or two-day training course, or internet training done remotely where practice is done on paper or latex practice skins and not real people is not enough and should disqualify the technician from your search. Your prospective technician should have at least 100hrs spent on real live skin in a Permanent Cosmetics Fundamentals course.
- Look at the technician’s portfolio and inquire if this is their own work (and not stock pictures from their training school or pictures of work done by their instructor). Does their work match your own personal style as it relates or relative to how intense the finished work is?
- What does their healed work look like? Ask for photos. A red flag is when they have NO healed photos of their own work to show you. Fresh procedures and healed procedures (especially with Microblading/Hair Strokes) can look very different.
- Is the procedure price a lot lower than other technicians in the area? Are they running deeply discounted specials or introductory pricing on a “local deals” type of website? Established technicians do not typically run these types of “local deals”, or specials and this can be a red flag that the technician is new to permanent cosmetics and Microblading. Some may ask, “What’s so bad about going to a new artist? Aren’t I getting a deal?” It takes years of consistent work on live people to become skilled at any form of tattooing, especially cosmetic tattooing of the face. Would you really want to be a brand new artist’s “practice” client?
As you do your research into this industry, bear in mind Permanent Cosmetics are a form of tattooing and must be thought of as lifelong. You will need regular color boost touch-ups over the years. It is important that you be comfortable with your technician before you start. You will have a special relationship with your technician. You must be confident he/she will give you a look you will be comfortable wearing for many years.
Some medical conditions and treatments are contraindications and clients who have any of the below are not candidates for Permanent Makeup procedures:
- Heart problems such as Mitral Valve Prolapse
- Bleeding disorders (platelet, hemophilia, sickle cell)
- Uncontrolled Diabetes or insulin dependent Diabetics (subject to infections and delayed healing). Controlled Diabetes may be OK – Doctor’s clearance/note may be required.
- Active cancer being treated with Chemotherapy or Radiation
- Chemotherapy or Radiation in the past 12 months (may require doctor’s clearance letter)
- Some Autoimmune disorders (may require doctor’s clearance letter)
- Regular use of blood thinning medications or steroids
- Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
- Ocular issues such as Glaucoma or eye pressure, ocular herpes simplex, ocular rosacea (for Eyeliner procedures only)
- Any treatment, medication, or illness that compromises the immune system / healing
- Pregnant or Breastfeeding (increased chance of infection and complications due to hormonal changes in the skin – wait until finished)
Contact your Doctor prior to discontinuing any prescribed medications or supplements.
- Pregnant or Breastfeeding (increased chance of infection and complications due to hormonal changes in the skin). Your body and your baby are more susceptible to any kind of infection. Wait until you are finished nursing before you get permanent makeup done. Alternatively, if you are not pregnant, but may be in the near future, come in for a consultation—it can be a real relief to know that you look great at any time of your pregnancy and caring for a little one!
- Upcoming vacations or major events (right before your wedding, family photos or plans to go snorkeling in Hawaii a week after your appointment, for example. Wait until after!)
- Current or recent Steroid usage (wait until 6 weeks after last dose)
- Antibiotic usage (wait until 2 weeks after last dose)
- If you are required to be on a prophylactic antibiotic before any procedures, such as dental work, you will need a letter of clearance from your doctor.
- Accutane (Isotretinoin – also known under brands such as Sotret, Myorisan, Amnesteem, Claravis, and Absorica). You must wait a full 12 months after the last dose before you can receive any Permanent Cosmetics. Your skin will be very delicate, will not hold pigment well and will be at a very high risk for permanent scarring.
- Skin conditions in the treatment area – such as Psoriasis, Eczema, Rosacea, rashes, severe acne
- Known allergies to anesthetic products containing “Caine” – Microcaine, Lidocaine, Tetracaine
- Received Botox in the treatment area within the past month (schedule after a month)
- Recently sunburned or actively tanning (indoor or outdoor – schedule two weeks after)
- Flu, colds, viruses, generally not feeling well (schedule two weeks after you’re feeling better or cleared from your Dr)
- Unsure about any of the above? Call or email Tara!
- For Lip procedures, if you have ever experienced a cold sore or fever blisters (even in childhood, even EVER once) it will be required to obtain an anti-viral prescription PRIOR to the appointment to be taken at least one week before and one week after the procedure to help prevent viral outbreaks which can be severe, painful and ultimately impact how your lip color heals.
- For Eyebrow procedures – If your brows have been tattooed or Microbladed previously, please schedule a consultation FIRST and Tara will be able to tell you whether or not you are a candidate and what your options are going forward. Because of color saturation and scar tissue, Microblading hair strokes may not be able to be obtained. Some clients may not be able to obtain the hair stroke look at all and may need a color refresher as an Ombre or Powder style. There are cases where Lightening/Removal of the old pigment to lighten the color will the be only way to improve the outcome of future work and may be recommended.
- For Eyeliner procedures – You must NOT have eyelash extensions on when you arrive to your procedure appointment. They must be removed by your extension technician a week PRIOR to the procedure appointment. Your eyelash extensions can be reapplied after you are healed from your six-week Touch Up visit.
- Hesitant about the maintenance and cost involved in getting regular color boost touch-ups over the years. Just like you can’t color your hair only once, you can’t expect to get permanent cosmetics and not have the needed future touch-ups. Colors WILL shift and fade and require regular maintenance, that is the nature of the procedure.
Current prices are listed on HERE and on the online scheduling system. Pricing is subject to change without notice.
The first question that people ask is, “Does it hurt?”. Topical anesthetics are applied before and during the procedure for comfort. Some people are more sensitive than others, and it varies depending on your individual pain tolerance. The most common answers are, “It wasn’t bad at all”, “I fell asleep”, “Tweezing hurts more”, and “I’m going back to get everything else done!”.
Tara’s goal is to enhance your natural features and will work with you to choose colors that flatter your skin tone, hair and eye color. Harsh, dark and unnatural permanent makeup is a thing of the past!
All techniques of permanent cosmetics are considered LOW maintenance, but not NO maintenance. You will need to schedule periodic touch-up or color boost sessions to refresh your color and keep it looking nice.
IF YOU DO NOT TOUCH IT UP in one to three years it may be faded, and it has the potential to turn different unwanted warm or cool colors and may be blurred out or uneven looking as it fades. This happens and this is normal! This is why periodic touch-ups are done to make sure that this does not happen and your permanent makeup continues to look fresh. PLEASE BE AWARE OF THIS. This is not something that any technician has control over.
As permanent makeup/Microblading is indeed a tattoo, and is regulated by the body art laws of the state of California, you must be 18 and over with a valid form of identification. It is not recommended that people under 25 have permanent makeup done (unless a case like Alopecia) as getting permanent makeup means making a commitment to regular touch-ups that may not be possible due to life changes (going away to college, income considerations that make it hard to pay for future touch-up appointments).
Most normal activities can be resumed right away. Heavy exercise should be avoided for at least a week for best results—any sweat formed on your brows can impact your healing color. Swimming should be on hold for at least a week, pool chemicals and ocean sea salt could erode your healing color and expose your fresh tattoo to potentially dangerous bacteria as well. Outdoors activities such as gardening or golf can be resumed as long as your treatment area remains clean, dry, and out of the sun (a hat is recommended for outdoor activities). For best results do not expose your healing procedure to any unnecessary wear.
For brows you’ll have some minor swelling in the area and the skin may be pink for the for the first day or two. Fresh brow color tends to look much redder/warmer tone and darker than it will be when it heals. Depending on how fast your body heals, around day 5 through 7 your brows will begin to flake and peel which typically looks like dry skin. Keeping a thin layer of ointment (provided to you) keeps it to a minimum.
Eyeliner swelling varies from person to person, the thinner the eyeliner the less swelling one tends to get, but all bodies are different and sometimes swelling occurs regardless of thickness. Your eyes will probably look a bit red the day of the procedure and the following day, as if you had cried. You will not be permitted to wear eye makeup, including mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow) for a week after the procedure or until healed (slow healers may be 10 days).
Lips tend to swell the most, and can look quite puffy with bold color for a few days following the procedure.
The pigment will be darker and bolder for the first five to seven days as it goes through the healing process. Overall, people have no issues going back to work, having a social life and doing their normal activities.
Many people safely have had MRI scans performed after getting permanent cosmetics. Inform your doctor or MRI technician that you have permanent makeup so that they can take any appropriate measures when performing your scan. You can also visit http://www.MRIsafety.com or http://www.fda.gov for more information.
UV light is the #1 enemy of all body art – both permanent cosmetics and body tattoos, and repeated exposure can fade the color over time. Exposure to UV in tanning beds will fade your permanent cosmetics faster than the sun and at an alarming rate.
Your permanent cosmetics will last longer if you apply sun block daily, wear a hat for extended outdoor activities and avoid heavy exfoliating treatments in the area. This includes laser treatments, chemical peels, lightening agents, glycolic acids and AHAs and prescription/OTC retinols and Retin-A or Tretinoin. Inform your Skin Care and Laser professionals that you have permanent makeup so they can avoid products and treatments in that area.
Permanent makeup and microblading can be lightened, and in some cases, removed by a few methods all which require several sessions to break up and lift pigment or ink from the skin.
The most recognized form of tattoo removal is laser, but this can pose problems due to brow hair in the area, the client’s natural skin tone, and side effects such as scarring or toughening of the skin texture.
The most effective and safe way to remove most permanent makeup and microblading is via Saline removal. A professionally manufactured sterile solution comprised of saline (salt water) and other pigment lightening agents is needled into the skin and allowed to form a scab which then pulls unwanted color up and out to be sloughed off naturally as it heals. Your natural brow hair remains intact and unaffected.
Depending on how dense or saturated the color is in the skin, Saline tattoo removal can take multiple sessions. The goal with most removal of permanent cosmetics is to lighten the old work enough that we can then tattoo over it and provide a fresh, beautiful new shape and color.
If you have old permanent makeup or microblading that you’re unhappy with, please schedule a consultation appointment to discuss removal or correction options with Tara.
The short answer is: It depends. The skin is a canvas, and in order for your artist to give you a beautiful result the canvas must be in good shape.
If you have old permanent makeup work that is very faded and Tara determines if she can tattoo over it to give a satisfactory result for color and shape, then some corrections can certainly be done with a new procedure by adding fresh color. Note that not all clients with previous permanent makeup eyebrows are candidates for the Microblading hair stroke technique and may be better suited for a different, just as pretty style such as Ombre or Powder eyebrows.
If you have previous work that is still saturated with color, new color often times will not “stick” or will turn “muddy” or just refuses to give you a nice result. Human skin can only hold so much of the pigment particles, and much like an overflowing glass of water, not much will stay in the skin if it is already “full” of color. We may not be able to improve the shape or color without first doing Saline Removal/Lightening sessions.
if the old work does not suit your features (placed too high on the forehead, too arched, too low, drooping tails, migrating eyeliner wings), we may not be able to improve the shape or color without first doing Saline Removal/Lightening sessions.
The goal is to get your permanent makeup back to looking “good”, but you must have realistic expectations that depending on your history we may not be able to get it back to “perfect”.
In all cases, you will need to schedule a Consultation appointment so Tara can assess your situation and provide advice and a plan of action.