Permanent Makeup

Microblading, the most popular form of permanent makeup, is a fancy name for an eyebrow tattoo. Instead of the shockingly dark brows you may have seen on members of the Silent Generation, the modern technique simulates individual hair strokes for a natural look. Cosmetic tattoo artists use a super fine pen to deposit pigment directly under the skin. You may also hear names like brow feathering or microshading. "People will claim different techniques for marketing purposes," says Bray. Other techniques still fall under the umbrella of natural-looking hair strokes, and the important part is to study examples of your artist's work and make sure you're a fan before booking an appointment.

If filling in your brows is a crucial part of your beauty routine, you might want to look into microblading. To its credit, the procedure is dermatologist-approved. "I think it is an ideal treatment for restoration of the eyebrows," says board-certified L.A.-based dermatologist Ava Shamban. She's such a fan of the procedure that she even does microblading procedures in her own clinics. There's one major pro to getting your work done at a dermatologist's office: "We can be prepared for the unforeseen complications and act or react accordingly," says Shamban.

Even if you choose to go with a cosmetic tattoo artist without a medical degree, talk to your dermatologist to make sure your skin is amenable to a tattoo. Bray turns away potential clients with oily skin or large pores. "Microblading only looks great when you can achieve fine details," says Bray. "People with oily skin won't heal with the crisp strokes you need to achieve a natural look."

Like any tattoo, microblading does fade over time. Expect to return to your artist after 12 to 18 months for a touch-up. Exactly when to come back is up to you: "The pigments are designed to slowly fade over time, so it’s a personal preference when to come in for maintenance once the color starts to lose concentration," says Bray. "Some people fade a little bit and they want more; others let it almost all fade out before they come back." At a maintenance appointment, the artist will add color concentration to the existing work.

Infection is a potential risk for any permanent makeup tattoo (as well as just about any type of body tattoo). "With all of these, we are opening the skin and blood-borne pathogens can be spread, so you want to make sure technicians are using disposable, single-use tools," says Bray. Your technician should open the single-use tool in front of you. Infection can also occur if clients don't follow the proper aftercare, says Bray, which means keeping the area dry and staying out of the sun for about 10 days. Your artist should also schedule a follow-up appointment after six weeks or so to ensure the skin has healed properly and that you're happy with the results.

How does it work?

What is it good for?

How long does it last?

What is the potential risk?