The best thing in a lady’s life (among many other things) is not having the best eyebrows in thickness and shape. In a short and simple term, waking up with immaculate eyebrows.
This is where microblading comes in handy, first of all what is microblading? Microblading is a tattooing technique in which a small handheld tool made of several tiny needles is used to add semi-permanent pigment to the skin
sounds wonderful, but having ‘semi-permanent’ make-up might not be quite what you expect, as Notebook beauty director Lynne Hyland discovered
It’s easy to understand why microblading your eyebrows seems such an appealing beauty treatment. It takes less than two hours to do, and the idea is you’ll be left with gorgeous, groomed brows for up to two years.
It’s essentially what used to be known as semi-permanent make-up but under a trendier-sounding name.
The pigment isn’t placed as deeply as a regular tattoo, so it’s supposed to disperse naturally over a year or two.
In theory, microblading means you can pack away your pencils and pomades and simply bounce out of bed with a perfect brow.
Helen Mirren recently gushed about her ‘lightly and delicately done’ microblading, saying ‘it’s made a huge difference’ to her face without make-up.
In reality though, what’s sold as ‘semi-permanent make-up’ can turn out to be anything but – as I discovered to my cost.
When brows go bad
The ink is supposed to fade off by two years, however Lynne Hyland says that hers stayed for more than seven years. No not in its perfect shade but from a dark brown it became orange.
” At first, I was thrilled with this time-saving hack, But as time passed, the ink began to change from dark brown to ugly orange… and it never left. Five, six, seven years on, it was STILL there,”she said
I scrubbed away to no avail, and resigned myself to camouflaging it with make-up and eyebrow tints.
It’s a problem cosmetic doctor Sach Mohan sees regularly in the wake of the microblading boom.
‘Beauticians might claim microblading is different to tattooing, but the ink used is very similar and can be placed deeply enough to remain trapped in the skin,’ he says.
Unfortunately, the ink then reacts with oxygen, which can cause unpredictable colour changes.
Eyebrow guru Shavata Singh, who works alongside Dr Mohan to rescue botched brows, has seen microblading disasters in a rainbow of hues.
‘One lady’s brow pigment had gone neon pink,’ she says.
That makes me feel better about my own oxidised brow shade, which Dr Mohan describes as ‘Trump Tan’.
And at least the ink was put under my natural brows so I could cover it up.
Other women aren’t as lucky.
‘The face droops with age, and many practitioners are taught to place the brow a set distance from the eye,’ says Dr Mohan.
‘I’ve seen patients who’ve had their brows repeatedly tattooed at different heights.
‘One lady had a brow with three “tails” at the end.’
How to erase unwanted ink
So what can be done if you’ve been left with an unwanted permanent tattoo on your face?
It’s tempting to cover it up with a fresh microblading session, but Dr Mohan urges against this.
‘It is impossible to go over the original hair-like strokes precisely, so the result just gets blocky,’ he says.
Luckily for those with microblading regrets, there are now lasers designed to break down ink without harming your eyebrow hair in the process.
Dr Mohan is confident he can erase my brow stain with Enlighten, a cutting-edge new ‘picosecond’ laser, which hits the ink with pulses so fast they register not as heat but as sound.
‘This shatters the pigment into smaller pieces, so your body’s own immune system can gobble them up,’ he explains.
What does laser treatment feel like?
The treatment only takes a minute each side, and while it makes me jump a mile at first that’s mostly down to the sound, not the (very mild) discomfort.
There’s a startling ‘snap, crackle, pop’ as the laser passes over my skin, which is literally the sound of the ink exploding.
I’m even more stunned when I look in the mirror afterwards and see that my loathed tattoo is so much lighter.
The next day I’m panicked to see the tattoo has – eek! – resurfaced and turned red and a tiny bit scabby but Dr Mohan assures me this is a normal part of the healing process and will fade in a week or so.
He’s right – I go back two months later to zap what’s left, and my Trump Tan has now virtually gone.
Then it’s on to the final part of the rescue operation, where Shavata shapes, tints and pencils my brows, so they look as good as they ever did with microblading.
It’s a lucky escape and I’ve vowed to stick to brow products that realy ARE non-permanent from now on.
Is it risky to have laser tattoo removal?
Dr Mohan tells his patients to expect temporary redness and swelling after treatment.
‘The laser we use may lighten your brow hair, but it will grow back a normal colour, and you can get it tinted in the meantime,’ he says.
There are risks with any laser treatment, he adds, which can include burning and blistering.
‘However, this is far less likely with a picosecond laser, compared to the older, slower Q-switch type.’
How to do microblading well
● Microblading does have its place, but only in skilled hands.
‘How deeply the pigment goes into your skin is totally dependent on the therapist,’ says Shavata.
Unless you want to risk a permanent tattoo on your face, accept you’ll be shelling out for a relatively short-lived effect.
‘When I microblade I only go a couple of layers into the skin, so the result will only be semi-permanent, but that also means it will need topping up after nine months,’ says Shavata.
● It’s vital to do your homework to find a good microblading therapist.
Anyone can do a two-day microblading course, so check a therapist’s experience and qualifications, read reviews and get recommendations.
Don’t just speak to clients who only had microblading done a month ago and have no idea how well it’s going to fade.
Having a thorough consultation first is key – don’t just turn up and let the therapist get on with the treatment.
‘Always have your brow shape sketched in make-up first, so you know exactly what to expect,’ says Shavata.
‘Stick to your natural shape and don’t have a “trend brow” – fashions change.’
‘Never let anybody do microblading freehand,’ she adds, explaining it’s the number one way for mistakes and misunderstandings to happen.
● Don’t rush into microblading – your brows might not even need it.
‘The first time a client asks for microblading, I might say, “Give me time to regrow your natural brow”,’ says Shavata.
‘If we’re not making progress after a few months or they want a bolder brow I’ll do microblading, but I see it as a last option.’