I got the scoop on permanent eyebrows from brow guru, Kim! She owns Smartface (one of my favorite spas in San Diego) and really knows her stuff. She’s been in the industry for over 13 years and her brow artistry skills are some of the best I’ve ever seen! I’ll be doing a 2 part series where we learn about the permanent eyebrow process, then watch it in action. I have a video and the interview questions below so you can watch or read depending on your preference. Enjoy!
L: What is the difference between Microblading & Ombre Brows?
K: Microblading is the hair stroke technique and it’s done with a hand tool/ blade dipped in pigment. The pigment is then scratched into the skin to look like hair. Microblading blurs over time and eventually looks like powder brows.
Ombre brows don’t look like hair, they look like you filled in your brows with makeup. This technique is done with a tattoo gun and doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply.
L: How do you decide between microblading and powder brows for your clients?
K: If your skin is oily, sun-damaged, sensitive, red, or you large pores you shouldn’t do microblading. But, all of those skin types can do ombre brows with beautiful results. I mostly only do powder brows anymore because it ages well and is less invasive.
L: Do you ever do a combination of microblading and powder brows if people want that hair stroke look?
K: Yes I do something similar with nano strokes. I don’t use a blade, I use a needle and draw on hair strokes. It’s less invasive so you can have that fluffy hair look then I’ll powder in the rest of the brow with the tattoo gun.
L: Does one last longer than the other?
K: It depends on the skin type. There’s no way to guarantee how long it will last from person to person, it depends on what skincare products they use on the skin, their age, skin type, skin texture, and if they are oily or dry. Typically powder lasts longer but that isn’t always the case.
L: How long does permanent makeup last? Do you need touch-ups?
K: 70% of my clients don’t need any touch-ups at all. Generally, powder brows last for a year to a year and a half before the color starts to fade and they need to come back for a color boost.
L: What is a touch-up?
K: A touch up is done between 6-12 weeks after the initial appointment. This is done if the color is fading unevenly in a specific spot. Not everyone needs a touch-up but many brow artists include it in their price. I don’t include them in my pricing because not everyone needs it and I’d rather my clients not pay for something they won’t use.
L: Is the healing time the same for ombre brows and microblading?
K: Yes, there are 2 weeks of aftercare then the brows should be topically healed. You want to make sure you don’t sweat or wear makeup for two weeks. Also, no saunas or super hot steamy showers. 6 weeks is when the healing process is complete.
L: What is the healing process?
K: 2-4 days after the treatment the pigment oxidizes on the skin so the brows will look extra dark. After the first few days the brows will flake, possibly itch, and they can look lighter in some areas. This happens because sometimes a new layer of skin forms over the brows. That’s normal. It takes a full 6 weeks you know what your brows will actually look like. Give them time and don’t freak out until the full 6 weeks.
L: Is there any pre-care before your brow appointment?
K: Yes you want to stop using any Retin-a, retinol, and acids for a week before. Stop taking any blood-thinning medications like Aspirin, IB Profin, fish oil supplements, and Tumeric 48 hours before. No alcohol 24 hours before and try to not have caffeine the morning of.
L: When do you need to get the color boost/ maintenance?
K: That’s up to you! I suggest coming back when they aren’t looking as vibrant as you want and you are noticing even fading throughout the brow. Generally, powder brows last a year to year and a half.
L: Do they turn red over time like permanent makeup used to?
K: Color technology has improved a lot over the years. There are no guarantees with permanent makeup, but it’s not common anymore, especially if you match the color to the undertone properly. I use a brand of pigments that are modified to prevent that red from happening.
L: How do you pick the right color?
K: You have to match the eyebrow hair color, then figure out what what tone the skin is (warm, cool, neutral). I put a few shades on my clients forehead the day of their appointment while they are numbing and I let them dry and see how they oxidize. Once I see how the colors work with their skin tone I choose the best one.
L: What if you have blonde eyebrow hair but want dark brows?
K: Blondes can do permanent brows but if they want a darker tattoo they have to tint their brows constantly otherwise they will look fuzzy.
L: Can permanent brows be removed?
K: Yes they can but it’s not a pretty process, it’s bloody and takes time. I tattoo saline into the skin over multiple treatments. I can remove botched brow jobs but it’s on a case by case basis.
L: How should you pick your brow artist?
K: Look at their healed results, not just the immediately after photos. Also, look at their style. I’m conservative and like to make sure that my style matches what my clients want. I try to give a realistic expectation of what to expect and what will look best with their facial bone structure, natural arch and how the hair grows. Don’t be afraid to ask them what training they’ve had. There are so many quick 1-2 day classes that will “certify” you but it’s important to know how many hours of work they’ve done. Make sure they are compliant with the local health department- look for the post on their walls it should be easy to spot.
L: Do you need to grow your brows out before you come in?
K: Not necessarily. I’ll ask for a photo and if I can’t find their brow shape then I will tell my clients to grow out their hair for a month. I need to see natural hair growth. Also, if someone comes in with a defined shape then they don’t need to grow them in, but if they haven’t been shaping them with their natural arch then I will wax their brows 5 days before so I can see the shape.
L: What is the aftercare?
K: For powder brows you blot every 30 minutes for 2.5 hours after the treatment. Then don’t do anything for 24 hours. The next day you will wash two times a day with anti-bacterial soap and apply After Inked. Continue doing that for 2 weeks. Be sure not to sweat or take hot steamy showers- its ok to shower just don’t get a lot of water on the area for the full 2 weeks.
L: Is it painful?
K: It shouldn’t be. Most of my clients fall asleep. I run the tattoo gun over the brow to open the skin then I apply lidocaine and epinephrine. They start to numb quickly. I also numb again after every pass with the tattoo gun. I wipe off the pigment and re-apply the numbing ingredients.
L: Is there a risk of scar tissue?
K: With powder brows, no, not if they are done properly because the tattoo gun doesn’t go as deep. Microblading, yes there is scar tissue that builds up over time so you can only do maintenance/ color boost a few times.
L: How much does it cost?
K: $399 each new session. Touch-ups are $100 between 6-12 weeks and $150 after depending on what is needed. I don’t include touch up cost because not everyone needs it. The color boost is $250 after one year.
L: Do you need to come in for brow maintenance if you have permanent eyebrows?
K: That depends. Some people continue to get their brows done as normal but others don’t because now they have a defined shape that they can easily follow.
Did this answer all of your questions? If not, leave them in the comments section and I will get you answers!