Eyebrow Microblading, Microshading, and Microfeathering - the differences

Gone are the days of pencil thin eyebrows and over-plucking. Many people are looking in the mirror and regretting the nineties these days as natural, full, thick brows make an appearance. Unless you've been hiding under a rock lately, you've probably heard of microblading, the new-ish, semi-permanent version of eyebrow tattoos. They're delicate, super-fine hair strokes that look natural and realistic. Microblading's recent popularity has spawned microshading and microfeathering, two techniques that give you a different brow look depending on your preferences. Here's how they differ—and what that'll mean for you.

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Microblading

Best for: 

Anyone who wants a natural look that lasts.

What is microblading? 

Microblading is a technique using a super-fine pen (technically, a bundle of 12 to 15 needles) to deposit pigment into skin. The tip is so fine, in fact, that it can create hair strokes that look legit. And the needles reach only into the superficial layers of the skin, which is what makes the method semi-permanent (versus permanent, like traditional cosmetic tattoos). Think of each stroke as a little paper-cut. Compared to other techniques, microblading gives a very natural look and better simulates hair.

What you should know: 

Expect a quality job to run somewhere between $700 to $1,500. 

How long microblading lasts: 

You'll need a touch-up in about a month (the cost of this is typically budgeted into the fee of the initial service). Then, microblading can last anywhere from 12 months to three years, depending on your lifestyle. A few ways to extend it: Stay out of the sun, since it can fade the pigment, and avoid putting exfoliants (like retinol and glycolic acid) near your brows, because they'll lift the top layers of your skin with continued use—and the color with it.

Microfeathering

Best for: 

Anyone who wants to lightly fill out the brows they already have.

What is microfeathering? 

Microfeathering is a form of microblading. Like microblading, pigment is deposited into the incisions, resulting in an incredible natural-looking 'eyebrow hair'. Unlike microblading, which typically creates most of the brow for you, feathering uses your existing brow hairs as the "starting base" and simply fills it in as needed.

What you should know: 

Microfeathering is a little more high-maintenance than microblading. There has to be enough natural hair to help blend the pigment into your brows. (And, even so, there's usually a growing-out period of six to 12 months so your existing brow hairs are all accounted for.) During the first appointment, microfeathered strokes are created in some of the more dense area of the brow. Six to eight weeks later, depending on how your skin heals and responds, additional strokes are then added. 

How long microfeathering lasts: 

It typically doesn't have the staying power of microblading because the pigmented stokes are much finer and natural looking. Depending on certain factors, like your skin type (oily skin won't hold the pigment as well), age, and skin care routine, microfeathering will usually last eight to 12 months, max.

Microshading

Best for: 

Anyone who wants brows to look more thick and filled in.

What is microshading: 

If microblading is like painting and microfeathering more like sketching, microshading is like an Impressionist got ahold of the blade. Microshading technique is done using either an electric hand tool or a manual tool, which creates a soft, powdered effect that resembles eyebrow powder. Instead of the hair stroke typical with microblading and microfeathering, microshading employs a stippling method, which uses repetitive dots of pigment. It's like the pomade or powder to microblading's pencil strokes—just semi-permanent. 

What you should know: 

Some people could benefit from a combination of microshading and microblading That candidate would have thinning eyebrows with drier skin—so, likely on the more mature side. Thinning brows can benefit from the extra oomph of shading. Luckily, if you do get both, the price is about the same as it would be for just microblading.

How long does microshading last? 

All good news here—there's no difference in the lifespan of microshading and microblading. So, excluding the first touch-up, you have a solid year before you need to see your brow artist again.