Dr. Martens, the platinum pixie and edgy lace were all ’90s favorites that have made a comeback, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. But there’s one ’90s trend that we’re happy is staying in the past — pencil-thin eyebrows.
Big, bold eyebrows are front-and-center on many celebrity and beauty influencer’s Instagrams. But if you overplucked and can’t bounce back from those mega-thin arches, you probably spend too much time looking over those photos and dreaming about a better long-term solution.
The good news is that there’s not just one fix for better eyebrows. There’s three: Microblading, microshading and microfeathering.
Before undergoing any of these three techniques, Dr. Michael Gold, a Nashville-based dermatologic surgeon, offers his advice: “These are tattoo procedures, and there are always things that can go wrong when receiving a tattoo. Know your technician well, and make sure that everything is done in a sterile fashion.”
“Also, what you see is what you have — for a year — and it’s on your face,” Dr. Gold continues. “You cannot hide the outcome…[and] you have them for about a year before the ink fades. Laser tattoo removal may help, but at an expense that you probably have not considered.”
Below, we break down all three treatments: Difference among the eyebrow treatments, who is an ideal candidate for each and cost.
Microblading, or eyebrow tattooing, has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years and currently has a 71 percent Worth It rating on RealSelf.
“Microblading is a semi-permanent tattoo technique where small needle incisions are dipped into pigment and inserted into the skin to create hairlike strokes,” says Dr. Patricia Faraz, a Ladera Ranch, California, OB-GYN. “This procedure gives the appearance of a natural, fuller, flawless brow.”
Dr. Faraz adds that microblading is a good alternative to help those with really sparse brows or non-existent brows to fill shapes and/or re-create the look of a “beautiful new eyebrow.”
One of the most important things to note with microblading is that the tattoo will likely look very stark and dark when you first get it. This is normal and will fade to a more natural-looking eyebrow. It’s important to relax and let it heal.
One reviewer on RealSelf shares her experience with microblading: “I just got my eyebrows microbladed five days ago, and honestly, I cried — I hated them. They were too big, too thick and too dark. I scoured the internet high and low, desperate to find a way to quickly remove them.”
“Five days later, I love them — they are healing so nicely — and they’ve faded a lot,” she continues. “I think it was my hugest issue with them in the beginning, and it seems to be the issue so many people on this site are complaining about as well. Leave them alone, let the brows do their thing, and wait at least a week before deciding anything.”
According to prices on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $425 on microblading.
If you aren’t looking for the big, bold, beautiful brows from microblading, microshading might be a better option. Microshading, sometimes referred to as the shadow effect, also fills in sparse brows, but uses tiny pinpoint dots to create a gradient appearance. It is the most popular option for people with sensitive or oily skin.
“Microshading is similar to microblading, but uses less pigment and is a softer treatment than full microblading,” says Dr. Gold.
Microshading results appear similar to microblading immediately after the treatment, but in about a week, softer, fuller-looking brows. Like other eyebrow-enhancing techniques, results will last one to three years, but yearly touch-ups are recommended.
The cost of microshading will vary based on location and provider experience, but you should expect treatment cost to be comparable to microblading.
Microfeathering provides the most natural-looking brow and has become popular with celebrities, like Mandy Moore, Adele and Lorde, according to this article in Refinery29. The technique has been refined by one of Los Angeles’ top eyebrow experts, Kristie Streicher, at her salon STRIIIKE.
“I just add little, tiny hair strokes, just a few, and it really makes such a difference,” Streicher told Refinery29. “I see a lot of tattoo artists using the same template and brow outline for everyone, which often ends up looking very artificial, but with microfeathering, you’re left with a full-looking brow, rather than a microbladed brow.”
“A microbladed brow is a more defined, cleaned up, tailored brow, where a microfeathered brow is a more natural full — not tailored or cleaned up,” says Dr. Faraz. “It can appear to be a bit wild and feathering, not defined. With microfeathering, the brow can have a hair out of place, and the strands may not go in the same direction.”
Similar to microblading and microshading, microfeathered brows will last for one to three years. Since microfeathering provides a more natural look, as-frequent touch-ups may not be necessary.
The cost of microfeathering will vary based on location and provider experience, but you should expect treatment cost to be comparable to microblading.