Don’t worry, no bloggers were harmed in the making of this post.
After spending 36 years learning to accept the things I didn’t love about my body, I recently realized that I am old enough now to afford to fix some of them. My eyesight was a big one; after 20+ years of glasses and contacts, I finally got Lasik a few weeks ago. The thought of waking up to something other than a blur is beyond exciting. But that is not what this post is about. This post is about something far more superficial: my eyebrows.
My eyebrow situation has been a low level annoyance for an awfully long time. Teenage over-plucking left me short half an eyebrow, and the remaining ones weren’t much to write home about — bushy but thoroughly blonde, which means that they were high maintenance AND pretty useless. “Putting on my eyebrows” has been a necessary daily ritual for years; without a well-defined brow, I look extra colorless and alien-like. I’ve become fairly adept at giving myself good arches, but always hated the extra hassle every morning.
When I saw my first microblading video on Instagram, I was confused … and intrigued. It took me a while to figure out what was happening (probably because I was watching the video with the sound off), but I immediately jumped on the internet to learn more. I’m old enough to remember old skool tattoo make-up, so I had some reservations at first. Some of the “after” photos that came up in my searches were less than inspiring, but it was clear that, when done well, microblading had a lot of potential. I particularly liked the fact that, unlike things like eyelash extensions for example, microblading is a longer-term solution. As I learned with gel nails, I simply don’t have time for monthly maintenance appointments in my life at present. Microblading lasts between 1 and 3 years, which struck me as a manageable commitment, both for my wallet and my face.
The big thing, as you might imagine, was finding a reputable place to have it done. Many of my friends had heard about and were interested in microblading, but no one I knew had done it. This was not the sort of thing I am comfortably leaving up to Yelp, either. I had kind of resigned myself to not doing anything about it when, a couple of months ago, I was referred to a dermatologist for an unrelated matter. [PSA: getting your moles checked is easy and it’s covered by government health care. The peace of mind that you don’t have melanoma: priceless.] That dermatologist, as it happens, also owns a spa. I figured it was worth asking and, sure enough, microblading was one of the services they offered. Anyway, long story short: I did it.
Don’t worry, this was NOT the final result. I had to take a photo of this stage of the process because it reminded me of the first (puzzling) glimpse of microblading I’d ever had. Here’s a before-and-after comparison:
I LOVED my results. My friends loved the results. Even my mom loved the results … and that’s saying a lot, because my mom is firmly in the anti body modification camp. (I’m still not sure if she realizes that this is basically a face tattoo. I hope she’s not reading this post.) The process itself was fairly straightforward, and the pain more than tolerable. It took about 3.5 hours, during which time the aesthetician measured and sketched my “new” eyebrows, selected the colour, applied the topical numbing cream, and went over the after-care with me; there was about a half hour wait for the Lidocaine to kick in, and then the actual microblading took about an hour or so. I would say the pain was similar to what I feel when I get my eyebrows threaded. (For what it’s worth, I have a low pain threshold but fairly high pain tolerance. This definitely registered as “pain” but only at a 2 or 3 on a 1-10 scale. YMMV.) After the microblading, she applied the layer of pigment all over (as seen in the first photo), and I waited another 15 minutes or so, before she wiped it off and I was done. The skin around my eyebrows was a little bit red for the rest of the day, and I felt some tingling that evening, but nothing too major. My eyebrows looked great right from the start, although the aesthetician warned me that they would look darker during the healing process than afterward. There is a whole regimen that you’re supposed to follow for the 7-10 days, with the key thing being not to get your eyebrows wet. This is how I looked 2 days after the procedure:
As they healed, my eyebrows became less red, which I was happy about — I didn’t want the end result to be too close to my hair colour, as I prefer an ashier brow colour. All was going well … until about the 5 day mark when I started stabbing. The scabbing itself wasn’t super noticeable but when the scabs started to fall off … well, most of the pigment seemed to go with them.
I FREAKED OUT. Big time.
I began to frantically google my situation, which yielded some reassurance that this could be normal. I had been warned that the strokes would get lighter (and the strokes less crisp) as my eyebrows healed, but I was not expecting this. It seemed … really drastic. My follow-up appointment wasn’t for another 3 weeks so there wasn’t much I could do except suck it up.
Here are my eyebrows at the 14 day mark (2 weeks before my follow-up):
You can see how much fading occurred (more on my right than my left eyebrow). They still looked better than au naturel but not nearly as defined as immediately after the original procedure. I started to pencil them in again in the interim, and hoped that the colour would get fixed at my next appointment.
And it was. Sort of.
Again, they looked great immediately after the procedure (an abridged version of the original). The healing was much quicker (with less scabbing) the second time around as well. But, as I had come to expect, there was some colour fading again. It was nowhere near as drastic as the first time. Overall, although slightly lighter than I’d like, my eyebrows generally look fine now without any make-up/filling. There is a small exception; the tip of my right eyebrow is a bit lighter than the left — not by a significant amount, but enough to bug me, so I do touch it up with pencil during the week.
Here’s my eyebrows (without make-up) about one week after my second appointment:
So my caveat/warning for anyone considering micro-blading is this: do not be surprised by how different your eyebrows look after the healing process is done, prior to the follow-up appointment. Most pictures you see on social media are taken immediately after the procedure is done, not weeks after the healing process is over, and I find many to be quite misleading. Also, if you are very fair, but prefer having darker eyebrows, be sure to communicate that clearly to your tech and be prepared for some push-back. Mine was concerned with going too dark, even on the follow up, which remains something of a regret; I love the shape she gave me, but I wish she’d gone darker.
So was it worth it?
This was not an inexpensive splurge ($375 plus tax), and I am honestly torn on whether I would do it again or not. I think it will depend on how long the results last; anywhere from 1-3 years is the norm, but I am worried that mine will “wear off” sooner. However, even with the lighter colour, it has made a considerable difference in my daily make-up routine, so it was worth it from that perspective. I’m just not sure yet if it made $375 worth of difference. Time will tell.