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What Is Eyebrow Microshading? I Got Inked & Learned All About It

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From growth serums to castor oil, there are so many different eyebrow treatments swimming around the interwebs. Discerning the right one for you can make you want to just pluck out your brows out altogether. For instance, what is eyebrow microshading? The new-ish treatment is becoming increasingly mainstream, leaving many a curious beauty lover in its wake.

A couple of months ago, I decided to ditch temporary solutions for my brows (like pencils and pomades) and commit for the long haul, so I got my eyebrows microbladed. I had suffered from what is unofficially called invisible eyebrow syndrome (IES) for years, and my generous mother gave my a gift certificate for microblading for Chrismukkah. I went to Prettyology salon in Boston because that's where my parents live, and they'll use any excuse to get me up there. In addition to getting an epic eyebrow makeover, I learned a lot about the different treatment options for brows.

My first visit was in late December of 2017 and for that appointment, my technician did only microblading — you can read more about that here and see all kinds of funny photos of me during the procedure. But when you make an appointment at any good eyebrow salon offering microblading and microshading, the package should also include a complimentary second appointment to touch up the initial procedure. For my followup appointment, my technician did a litttle more microblading — but also added in the aforementioned microshading.

Why only microblading at first?

Microblading is the practice of making individual cuts on the brows to resemble individual hair strokes. If you're like me and don't have many hairs to begin with (especially on the outside arches), having these hair-like strokes of ink provides a good base for future microshading.

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There are my brows directly before and after the microblading! It made a world of difference, you can see the drawn on "hairs" and how realistic they look.

What about microshading?

About eight weeks after my first appointment, I trekked back to Boston to visit my parents and get my follow-up brow appointment. At my first appointment, the eyebrow technician advised that I get microblading done as a base layer, and this second time she thought that microshading would be better.

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Immediately after first appointment.

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Eight weeks after first appointment.

Just like with a tattoo, the microblading ink takes to everyone's skin differently, and unfortunately for me, it faded in places and didn't look quite as precise as when it was first done. My technician explained that because microblading is done by hand and microshading is done with a machine, the latter is applied more consistently and thus can last longer.

But what is microshading?

As mentioned above, microblading draws on individual hair-like strokes of pigment. Microshading, however, gives broader coverage and is essentially a semi-permanent brow powder. The ink is the same as with microblading, but it's done with more needles at a time and often with an electric contraption that looks like a mini tattoo gun. The gun ensures that the ink is applied consistently and evenly throughout the brow.

Across the board, many people regard microshading as the better option for sensitive and oily skin types.

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These are my brows right before and after the microshading. Disclaimer: the color looks even more similar to my natural hairs IRL than in this photo. Notice the difference here and after my first appointment — microshading didn't the defined hair lines that microblading did, but it gave me a more filled in look.

Which one should you get?

The best procedure for you depends upon your existing eyebrows, brow color, skin tone, skin type, and what kind of look you want to achieve. Ask your technician what he or she thinks is right for you, maybe it'll be a two-step procedure like mine was, or maybe yours will look amazing right away and you won't even need the second appointment!

You can read even more about microshading here to see if it's right for you, and I suggest checking out the salons in your area to see what they offer. Prices for microshading vary depending on city and technician, but just like microblading, can range anywhere from $600-$1,200. If you don't live in a major metropolitan area like New York City, you probably (and luckily) won't have to pay more than $800, but be wary of a salon charging much less than $600, because you want to make sure your getting a quality service. Many salons offer free follow-up appointments (the cost for this is built into the original price), which is another indicator of a trustworthy brow specialist.

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A recommendation from a friend or family member is always reliable way to go, but if you're an eyebrow pioneer you may have to rely on your own internet sleuthing skills to find the best place near you — I know you can do it!