Microblading is one of those words that’s slowly crept its way into the Dictionary. Most of us know roughly what it is. But of course, for those of you who are a little unsure about how permanent this cosmetic treatment is, here is a very brief rundown of the fundamentals.
Microblading is a procedure using a technique commensurate to tattooing. Pigments are implanted to create microfine hair strokes which fill in the gaps on thinning eyebrows. The end result is a full, low maintenance brow which means you no longer need to mess around with eyebrow pencils or gels.
However, there’s a huge debate covering Microblading over whether or not the procedure is permanent or semi-permanent & there are valid reasons for this. The simple answer to this hot topic is really dependant on the angle you approach it. For this reason, we’re going to look at it from both sides of the coin so that you can decide which camp you wish to sit in.
But before we do that, here’s a quick 101 on skin. Because you might need this to be able to form a reasonable opinion on whether Microblading is semi-permanent, or permanent.
Our skin comprises of three primary layers. The first is the Epidermis which is the outer, waterproof layer which could also be considered to be a protective barrier. The Epidermis is renewable and sheds each month or so, depending on age and skin types. Thereafter, beneath the epidermis is the Dermis. This contains your connective tissues and hair follicles and like anything under the Epidermis, it’s a live organ. If you dig deeper, you’ll find the subcutaneous tissue which is also known as the hypodermis. This is made up of fat and connective tissues & what should be obvious by now is that it’s also a living organ.
Why is Microblading considered to be Semi-Permanent?
There are two considerable differences between a traditional tattoo and microblading which lead to the debate on permanency. One is down to the depth of the implanted pigment and the other is owing to the type of pigments used.
When a microblading artist performs the techniques correctly, the incision and pigment are implanted into the very top of the Dermis layer of your skin. It really must only scratch the surface. If the pigments penetrate deeper into the dermis layer it’s, without doubt, a tattoo. If it hits the subcutaneous tissue it’s also a tattoo, albeit not a great one, and subject to very disagreeable and disastrous discoloration and migration.
Because of the depth of pigment implantation with microblading, pigment fading will occur, to nigh on insignificance which is why microblading is considered to be semi-permanent. But why the fading to insignificance with microblading and less so with a tattoo?
It’s all down to Macrophages.
Macrophages are types of white blood cells of your immune system. Their job is to police your body for foreign objects and eat up all the trash and waste. Macrophages will identify pigments as just that and gradually absorb them, thereafter dispersing around your body. The deeper the tattoo, the longer they take to work. So, like a regular tattoo that fades over time… Microblading is no different, only the process is quicker and much more noticeable.
Moving over to the second reason microblading is considered to be semi-permanent and differs from a traditional tattoo – pigments.
There is a somewhat fine yet also vast contrast between the pigment types used in tattooing and microblading. In a nutshell, cosmetic makeup pigment particles are smaller than that of traditional tattoo ink. Because of this, the result is a softer color that can be layered but it will also fade – a lot. With tattoo inks, they are decidedly more concentrated. Couple that with the depth of pigment implant and you’re left with a stronger, bolder color that’s not only richer in clarity, but will take a deeper hold under the skin & make for a bigger mouthful for your macrophages to eat up.
So now, if we hot foot it over to the other side of the fence…
Why is Microblading considered to be Permanent?
If you search anywhere on the net you’ll find ads for microblading. The claim is that those pigments will disappear after a year or so. This means that your semi-permanent brows can be either left to natures devices and return to your previous ones – or be redone. To an extent, this is actually true. The pigment can fade to a visual zero and thereafter, you choose. But…
… once pigment hits the dermis level of your skin, it’s trapped. And once it’s trapped underneath the skin, the process itself becomes an indelible one… scientifically. Now that doesn’t mean to say it is visible – but it is still going to leave traces of pigment particles permanently trapped underneath the Epidermis, or outer layer, of your skin. Therefore, it’s permanent right? You decide!
And to confuse matters a little further…
If we delve further into this, we need to go back to the physiology of the skin. The top layer, or Epidermis, of your skin is the only layer that is not “living”. The Epidermis renews itself every 27 to 28 days yet that process will change dependant on age. The minute you go in deeper, you go down to a living organ. For this reason, if you break the Epidermis level and attack the Dermis or subcutaneous it leaves a sign. You only need to look at a scar to get how this works. Is implanting ink any different to this?
When microblading takes place, it has to hit the Dermis layer, otherwise the process is just makeup, nothing more, nothing less, so what could possibly be the upshot of it all?
In essence, it’s true that scientifically, it’s a no-brainer. Of course it’s permanent, how can it not be. It’s a process whereby pigments are implanted into a living organ that traps the said pigments under a waterproof layer, meaning they can’t get out. However, cosmetically, given it fades into insignificance it has to be deemed as semi-permanent as it (should) disappears to beyond a trace.
But we are not finished…
…because there’s also another angle to the permanency or semi-permanency of microblading which isn’t regularly taken into account. Skin type. Microblading is widely publicized as the cosmetic procedure that fades, and in the majority of cases it does just that. However, not everyone’s skin is the same. There are absolutely no guarantees that the treatment will actually fade completely just like you’ve no guarantees that it won’t oxidize if inorganic pigments are used. Not everyones macrophages work the same. And the same goes for allergies. If you experience a reaction to pigments, you can receive laser treatment to remove the microbladed brows, but the particles will still remain trapped. This results in a continuous reaction as albeit you can remove an indelible marking, you can’t remove the particles of pigment that are trapped underneath that ever important epidermis level of the skin. You need to wait until they disperse naturally into your system.
It’s all a little confusing, right? And whilst you ponder over your decision on if it’s a permanent or semi-permanent procedure, here are some…
Fast Facts You Might Not Know About Microblading Techniques
- Where a tattooist uses a machine, a decent microblading practitioner will administer treatment by hand using a tiny blade that is made up of a row of small microneedles.
- Your choice of pigments might not be an obvious one :
These are made up of natural products. Vegetables, fruits… everything you’d imagine to be perfect to be implanted into your skin. The drawbacks are they are super rich in color and difficult to implant owing to their weight. Albeit they will be considered as the option, they’re heavy! There is the added disadvantage of if the receiver has known allergies to any of the fruits or vegetables contained within the product.
Also known as iron oxides, inorganic pigments are inert. This deems them stable in their nature and incredibly lightweight making them much easier to work with than their heavier organic counterpart. The added advantage of Iron Oxide is that it’s not known to be harmless or toxic. The disadvantage is, if not correctly implanted, it can oxidize and leave the recipient with an orange tinge.
- You’ll still need to keep tweezing the stragglers! Oh yes. But the upside is it doesn’t kill off or affect the existing hair follicles. They will still keep on growing, meaning post fading, you’ll still be left with your original brow.
- Microblading has been rocking the scene far longer than you might realize. Originating in Asia more than 25 years ago, it is also is known as eyebrow embroidery, feathering and Brow Micropigmentation.
- The success of your microblading treatment depends on your choice of technician & pigment choice. Color additives in pigments are not regulated in most countries, don’t hesitate to ask to see an ingredient list if you’ve any concerns.
- Regulations concerning microblading vary from state to state, country to country. If you’re in the US, generally speaking, technicians with affiliation to the American Association of Micropigmentation or the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (SPCP) should be a good sign of credibility. In the UK, the premises should be licensed to practice. If a technician can’t provide proof of proper training, this license will not be granted & likewise for insurance. You can verify these credentials from any clinic or practitioner.