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Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

Including what it really feels like.

Photo: Getty Images

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If you’re eyebrow-challenged, you’ve probably come across microblading — a semi-permanent solution where “hairs” are drawn in with a tattoo-type pigment to fill out the brows. You’ve likely seen a before-and-after video, but the one thing these clips often leave out is what microblading actually feels like.

Our deputy managing editor Laura Gurfein — who had not-totally-invisible eyebrows to begin with that she usually filled in with a brow pencil each morning — tried microblading for the first time at Hibba Beauty in New York City. Below, get an idea of what to expect during the procedure:

  1. First, you’ll get a sketch of what your brows will look like, done with an erasable pencil or marker on your brows— this doesn’t hurt at all, but it does look pretty ridiculous in the mirror. This is just a blueprint for your brows-to-be.
  2. There is the option to numb your brow area, but the specialist might recommend avoiding this to eliminate excess moisture in the area. Laura went without it.
  3. After mapping your brows out, the specialist will mix up a custom color to suit your brows and skin tone. Strapping on a futuristic-looking device meant to magnify vision, they’ll use a very skinny, multi-pronged needle to create short strokes on the skin. This makes a very distinct “scritch-scratch” sound, and it feels exactly like that, too — like someone scratching into the surface of your skin. It’s not too pleasant, but not the worst.
  4. After one layer of this, the specialist will allow your brow to absorb the ink so you won’t end up with too-saturated color. This does sting a bit, since there is now open skin.
  5. By the time a couple of layers of ink are in place on the brows (which takes about 20 minutes, depending on how much you’re doing), it gets a little more uncomfortable. Your eyes might tear up just like they do during a wax or thread in this area; the nerve sensation might also make it feel like you want to sneeze.
  6. Before finishing the second brow, your specialist might also thread your brows to clean up your existing brow shape. After this, you won’t really have to get any threading or waxing for the next few months.
  7. All that’s left to do is the “tail” portion of the brows. This might hurt the most only because this is where there is the least hair, so it’s needles directly on the skin. This part gets done the quickest.
  8. You also might experience a bit of minor bleeding. (We’re talking pinpricks.) After all, it is a tattoo, but it’s important to note that the needle does not go nearly as deep as a real tattoo would — this is two millimeters into the skin, where real tattoos go in about six, which is why it’s less painful (and less permanent) than a real one.
  9. Post-microblading, you can’t get your brows wet for five to seven days. You can use plastic wrap in the shower, or just angle your face really carefully when getting your hair wet and wash your face in two distinct segments: forehead first, then the rest of it.

See what the brows look like a couple weeks after this process is finalized, and check out the full microblading video below.

Two-plus weeks after microblading.