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Microblading and nanoblading – is it worth the investment?

If you’re craving fuller, more fabulous eyebrows, make sure you do your research before booking an appointment

There’s no denying that statement eyebrows are big business in beauty – and have been for some time now. Full, well-shaped brows are hugely desirable, and we are spending more and more money on their upkeep and maintenance.

As someone with naturally fair arches, I’ve been tweezed, tinted and threaded in the quest for my best brows. A couple of dalliances in the past with microblading gave good shape and definition, but both times the colour faded to a too-warm shade of orange-brown.

And while it’s perfectly plausible that my pain threshold isn’t the highest, despite a decent dose of topical anaesthetic the procedure still felt akin to a big cat clawing at my face.
Unlike a standard tattoo which goes deeper into the skin, semi-permanent makeup techniques such as microblading use specialised instruments to implant pigment under the skin, with fine strokes created by hand to mimic hair. If you’re lucky, the results can last up to two years.

But before you reach for that trusty eyebrow pencil, the good news is that semi-permanent makeup techniques and technology have moved on a lot since my first experience, so I thought I’d try nanoblading to (attempt to) achieve that sought-after fluffy brow effect which is all over Instagram.  

The procedure

Whichever method you choose, semi-permanent makeup suits people who have busy schedules and those who are sensitive to conventional makeup, as well as people with sparse or over plucked brows (remember that 90’s trend?), or who have lost their eyebrow hair due to alopecia or chemotherapy.
Using a precision hand tool that carefully applies pigment in the top layer of the skin, nanoblading actually mimics brow strands so you get a natural and realistic 3-D result.
Brow Expert Laura Kay of Laura Kay London began by discussing what I wanted to achieve, and we both agreed on a result that was fuller and more defined.  

She then set to work drawing on my new brows which I got to check and approve. This was slightly scary, as I was secretly hoping that Laura was not just a brow technician but a mind reader too, and that she would instinctively know what I wanted them to look like.

When I looked in the mirror I was quite taken aback – someone else’s perfectly shaped brows had been transplanted onto my face, and they looked pretty good.
Next, we chose a bespoke shade: a cool dark blonde as my main worry was the tone fading on the warm side again.
Laura Kay does not use numbing cream but having experienced the treatment before, I was fine about this and OK to put up with the scratchy sensation. While she is a perfectionist, Laura also works incredibly fast, which is testament to her skill and experience.
45 minutes later my beefier brows were revealed – slightly pink and tender, but that was completely over-ruled by fuller, shapelier arches, with no caterpillars in sight. The colour would lighten before my second appointment, but they were pretty close to spot on and not too obviously dark.  

During the weeks that followed, my brows faded as expected but unfortunately so did most of the fine hair strokes which gives that fluffy effect. This is apparently because my combination skin type caused the strokes to ‘bleed’ into one another – it’s common in oiler skin types, but something I was not aware of.

Six weeks later and I was back in Laura’s chair for a top up. This time round, to get closer to my desired result, she suggested using a more traditional microblading technique to reinforce the brow hairs.

This certainly worked and I am more than happy with the result – both colour and shape – which has saved me so much time in the mornings.

How to ensure successful results

  • Ask how long the technician has been working for, and how many procedures they have done
  • Ask to see before and after photos of their work
  • Err on the side of caution – it’s better to ask for a more natural, subtle effect than be stuck with results that you are not happy with 
  • Have a mirror with you during the procedure so you can keep an eye on what’s happening 
  • If you’re blonde or very fair, be very clear about the tone and shade you prefer – once you’ve gone too dark, there’s no going back
  • Don’t get your new brows wet for a week as you run the risk of losing the pigment.

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