When you’ve tried every pencil, powder, pigment, gel, and stencil at Sephora and your brows are still sparse, microblading—a more permanent solution to thin brows—is the last-ditch-effort treatment that promises to change your brow life. The face tattoo technique isn’t as scary as it sounds. Here, we talked to New York City microblading guru Piret Aava, aka The Eyebrow Doctor, to find out everything you need to know about the treatment that beauty insiders (from Olivia Palermo to JR Smith) are already obsessed with.
Microblading is a form of tattooing
Unlike a regular tattoo, “microblading is a form of tattoo artistry where pigment is implanted under your skin with a manual handheld tool instead of a machine,” Aava explains. “I draw hair-like strokes with the tool to mimic natural hairs in your brows. Even though it’s not as deep as the regular tattoo, it’s still a tattoo because pigment is implanted under the skin.”
You need to prepare
If you drink a lot, take aspirin, or use retinol, stop one week before your treatment. “Retinol makes your skin thin and then you bleed a little more,” Aava says. “Avoid blood thinners, aspirin, and alcohol.”
It doesn’t hurt (too much)
Pain is relative. “Some feel more than others. Overall it feels like little scratches. You feel it, but it’s not unbearable. It’s not like having a baby,” says Aava, who preps her patients’ brows with topical numbing cream and tops up throughout the process to dull the discomfort.
Microblading takes time
“I don’t like to rush anyone,” says Aava, who blocks off two hours for new clients.
Aftercare is essential
That means protecting freshly bladed brows from all moisture–no sweaty workouts or washing your face with water. Some patients experience itching and redness during the first week, which Vaseline can alleviate. Brows will look slightly darker at first, but the color will fade 30 to 40 percent. Aftercare ointments are provided during your first appointment. “Overall they look great right away and you don’t have to hide,” Aava says. “Slight redness and mild swelling is normal.”
Results last up to three years
Depending on the skin and lifestyle, Aava’s clients come back for touch-ups once every six months.
Microblading is an investment
The first treatment can cost up to $900. While lower-priced services are available, Aava cautions against visiting inexperienced technicians. Remember, microblading is a form of tattooing.