We try microblading: the eyebrow tattoo trend everyone's talking about

Andrea Nagel tries microblading, a semipermanent solution that promises to transform your brows from thin and uneven to full and beautiful

10 August 2017 - 11:47 By Andrea Nagel
Actress Cara Delevingne is famed for her lush brows.
Actress Cara Delevingne is famed for her lush brows.
Image: Gary Gershoff/WireImage

Cara Delevingne's eyebrows are famous - and, apparently, they're her natural birthright. But for the less well-endowed on the frons front, there's a new technique called microblading.

I tried it with master makeup artist and brow-shaper Gillian Lentin of browXpress, who answered all my questions:

What is microblading?

It's a semipermanent solution for thin, uneven or sparse brows, or for brows that are thinning in the outer third.

It's sort of like tattooing - ink pigment is deposited into the skin using a hand tool with a collection of needles positioned to look like a blade.

I cut fine ''hair strokes" that resemble natural eyebrow hairs.

Who's it for?

Anyone who's missing hairs. I think of micro-blading as an add-on rather than a total creation, though I've been asked to recreate missing brows due to alopecia or chemotherapy.

Who shouldn't have it?

There are conditions that shouldn't be worked on: sunburnt skin, pregnant or breast-feeding women, HIV or hepatitis sufferers, a person on chemotherapy treatment, and people with eczema or psoriasis on the brow.

I avoid patients with skin that keloids or with moles or birthmarks on the brows and I need to know if someone is on blood thinners.

A microblading tool.
A microblading tool.
Image: Supplied

How does the process work?

I insist on a consultation before considering the procedure. I'll take photos, find out if the expectations are realistic, discuss eyebrow designs and do a brow assessment score.

I can't say how deep the cut will be. There are different skin types - very thin, thin, regular and thick.

The first appointment is an hour. I apply a topical anesthetic with lidocaine for 20 minutes to numb the skin before starting the careful, tiny incisions.

Six weeks later there's a follow up and tweak if I need to, two shades darker and two strokes thicker.

Is it painful?

I use a topical anesthetic with ephedrine to control the bleeding (usually minimal).No Aspirin or Disprin before a session - it thins the blood.

People react differently to numbing - some don't feel anything after the first numbing, some feel slight discomfort with the first strokes. Once the second and third anesthetics are applied, everyone finds the rest pain-free.

How long does it last?

The brows need freshening after a year.


Most importantly don't get water near the cuts. Apply drops of almond oil every 2-3 hours for 3-4 days after the treatment (supplied).


R2,500 for both initial sessions and R750 for the follow-up. 

The verdict

While the microblading process was mildly uncomfortable, the results were impressive. Where once my eyebrows were distant cousins, they now look more like twins. Lentin wasn't kidding about two shades darker, two strokes thicker. But after three days, as she had promised, they looked perfectly natural but more defined, framing my face, and they look especially great on the outer third where they were quite thin.

Nagel's brows BEFORE: Thin and uneven.
Nagel's brows BEFORE: Thin and uneven.
Image: Supplied
Nagel's brows AFTER: Smooth and shaped.
Nagel's brows AFTER: Smooth and shaped.
Image: Supplied

• Some info was taken from Corrine Asch’s 'The Microblading Bible'.

• This article was originally published in The Times.