When it comes to eyebrows, thin is no longer in. However, factors such as over-tweezing, hypothyroidism or simply genetics can result in barely-there brows that just won’t grow.
Eyebrow microblading, a semi-permanent tattooing technique in which a trained professional uses a special pen to create the appearance of individual hairs, has become a popular solution to this problem. The result is full, shaped, natural-looking brows, such as those in this before and after image, shared on Instagram by Trish Dinh, a Florida microblading technician.
Microblading can transform sparse eyebrows without making them look as though they were drawn on with a Sharpie — but the process is not without some risk. As with any procedure using a blade or a needle, the process can lead to infection and adverse reactions.
Since the procedure is still relatively new and has only recently become a trend, determining the risk of side effects is tricky. However, some accounts of severe reactions to microblading have popped up around the internet.
Recently, a Michigan woman claimed she ended up in the hospital after a microblading procedure. She required IV antibiotics to treat the infection near her eyes.
Watch the video below, shared by Detroit TV station WDIV, for more details on this startling case:
In 2017, an Australian mom named Amanda Coats posted pictures online of her unpleasant experience. She claimed to have a rushed and unprofessional session, after which she allegedly ended up with a severe infection, with her skin peeling off and her eyes puffing up.
After Coats’ Facebook photos went viral and multiple news stations and magazines published her story, the clinic where she underwent the procedure filed a lawsuit against her, claiming they lost a great deal of business.
“There’s no way we could be possibly responsible for the infection at that stage, two and a half weeks after the procedure,” the owner of the clinic told Daily Mail. “My wife has done over 2,000 of these procedures, and we’ve never had any issues of infection.”
Here’s more information about the incident, in a video shared by “The Doctors” on YouTube.
Another woman, with the user name Shelly R., posted a Yelp review with photos of an infection she experienced following a microblading session at a California facility. She claims that her infection lasted four weeks, clearing up only after she received medical treatment.
“Two weeks later I got a severe infection below my left eyebrow. I have been to an eye doctor, urgent care, and dermatologist that has cost me hundreds of dollars,” she wrote on Yelp. “Have been suffering with open wounds, redness, major swelling for nearly three weeks. Have been on antibiotics and now an anti viral prescription.”
How Worried Should You Be?
These stories of infection are frightening. But are they the norm or the exception?
The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals says permanent makeup, such as microblading, is safe as long as “sterilization and disinfection guidelines are met.”
However, microblading does pierce the skin, which increases the risk of infection. And since it’s performed close to the eyes, infection can come with serious complications. Dr. Anthony Rossi, a cosmetic dermatologic surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told BuzzFeed that microblading may be risky because the industry is not regulated.
“We’re really trying to put advocacy out there to say a lot of these procedures being offered in nail salons or spas involve traumatizing the skin, which can lead to serious complications,” he said. “They’re not regulated and that’s a serious issue because they’re not held to the same health standard.”
Reducing Your Risk
If you are considering having your brows microbladed, taking steps to avoid a bad experience can help you have a positive outcome.
Before you even schedule an appointment, do your research. Check with your health department to see what regulations are in place in your state. You can also check with the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, which can refer you to a technician.
Seek an artist trained by a reputable institution. He or she should offer an initial consultation, during which you can ask questions and assess the cleanliness of the salon. A good technician will ask you some general health questions and discuss the type of brows you want.
If you opt to proceed with microblading, taking good care of your eyebrows following the procedure is crucial. Your technician should provide detailed instructions for aftercare, including the following:
For the next 10 to 14 days, avoid getting the area wet. This includes getting your face wet in the shower, swimming, saunas and excessive sweat.
Avoid putting any makeup on the area for at least one week.
No scratching, picking, peeling or otherwise touching the area until the skin has healed.
Keep hair from rubbing and irritating the brow line.
Treat As Directed
Be sure to apply any ointment or lotion provided or recommended by your technician.
Watch For Signs Of Infection
Swelling and redness lasting longer than two or three days may signal an infection. Other symptoms may include discharge, a foul odor, tenderness, swelling beyond the brow area and fever. Seek medical attention promptly if you experience any of these symptoms.
Other Eyebrow Options
If microblading is not for you but you still want shapely, lush brows, you have a few other options. Threading and tinting are two common alternatives.
Some people opt for brow extensions or DIY brow stenciling. Or, you can try a technique called HD Brows, which includes a combination of waxing, threading, tinting and applying makeup to eyebrows.