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WTF Is Eyebrow Microshading And How Different Is It From Microblading?

Hint: It's the secret to bushier arches.
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Don't get it twisted—microshading is not the same thing as microblading (which is also probs why you're here right now). Although they sound like basically the same thing and are both forms of permanent makeup for the eyebrows, they have a few slight differences you need to know about if you're lookin' to get the best brows of your life (not even exaggerating).

So to help explain the microshading technique and how it differs from microblading, I turned to two people with a ton of experience in both: Betsy Shuki, a licensed cosmetologist, and tattoo artist at Scott Wells MD. Keep reading before you officially make that appointment, k?

What is the difference between microblading and microshading?

Both microblading and microshading are semi-permanent tattoos that are administered with a device that deposits pigment into the top layer of your skin, so you're left with the illusion of fuller, thicker, and more defined brows. Buuut the similarities stop there. Let's compare/contrast for a sec, k?

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Microblading is when a technician tattoos hair-like strokes along your eyebrows (with a handheld tool) to mimic the look of natural hair growth, Shuki explains. Here's what mircoblading looks like:

Microshading, however, offers a soft, powdered finish (kinda like what you'd get from a brow pencil or powder) that's achieved with a machine that administers tiny, pin-like dots along the eyebrow. Here's what microshading looks like:

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See the difference? And when you combine the tiny hair strokes from microblading with the powder-like shading from microshading, you get a finished result that looks soft yet defined and really natural. Here's what microshading and microblading look like together:

Obsessed? Yup, same. Before you head to the first place you find on Google though, let's go over a few more deets first:

Is microshading permanent?

Microshading is commonly referred to as "permanent" makeup, but it's actually semi-permanent, which means it'll last a whole lot longer than your brow pencil, sure, but not as long as a real tattoo would. After you get your first touch-up (which happens about 4-6 weeks after the initial procedure), Shuki says you can expect your microshading to stay put for eight months to two years, all depending on your skin type and lifestyle.

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How much does microshading cost?

The average cost of microshading ranges anywhere from $700 (around P33,688) to $1,500 (around P72,188), but that price suuuper depends on where you're getting the treatment done.

What are the side effects of microshading?

Oh, one more similarity between microshading and microblading: the side effects. Because microshading is essentially a tattoo, Shuki says you can expect to experience itchiness, redness, puffiness, and swelling immediately after treatment. Which is why post-care is so important, which brings us to...

What is the microshading healing process?

Shuki says on average, the microshading healing process typically lasts 7-10 days. For the first week after treatment, all you're gonna do is gently dab the area clean 2-3 times a day with a clean, damp cotton pad, then allow your brows to air-dry. Once dry, gently dab on a small amount of the aftercare ointment recommended by your brow specialist. And that's it! Leave it alone and don't touch them more than you have to. After a week, Shuki says clients can wash their face including the brow area very gently. Translation: stick to a gentle facial cleanser and no harsh scrubs.

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What should you not do after microshading?

Absolutely no scratching or picking at the eyebrows is allowed during the healing process (or, like, ever). Unless you're cleaning the area, do your best to avoid touching it—even if it's with your pillowcase. Shuki says it's best to avoid sleeping directly on your face for the first few days after the procedure. You also want to avoid eye makeup, exercising, saunas, baths, or any kind of excessive sweating for the first 7-10 days. Sun exposure is totally off the table for the first week, and after 10 days, you can start to wear brow makeup, but be gentle and careful.

Why did my microshading fade so fast?

I don't know your life, so I can't say exactly why your microshading didn't last the typical eight months to two years, but Shuki points to a few factors that could cause your microshading to not last as long: (1) Sun exposure. Just like any tattoo (or like, your skin, in general), your brows need to be protected from the sun with sunscreen. Shuki says you also want to avoid any type of skincare ingredients that exfoliate the skin, like retinol or glycolic acid, and could remove the pigment along with it.

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Is microblading safe?

First off, not everyone is a good candidate for microshading. Shuki says this treatment would not be recommended for anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding, anyone who has a history of developing keloid scars, anyone who's been on isotretinoin in the last year, anyone with excessively oily skin or severe acne, or anyone who has eczema- or psoriasis-prone skin on or around the eyebrow.

Allll of this combined with the fact that microshading is a semi-permanent procedure on your face, which is why it's so important to find a brow specialist who really knows what they're doing. Shuki says to look for a state-licensed tattoo artist who has completed an accredited training program and is board-certified by the American Academy of Micropigmentation. Also, check to make sure they've completed their training for blood-borne pathogens and infection control for body art professionals.

Does microshading look natural?

It can! But it can also look really not natural if you don't do your research to find a reputable brow specialist. In addition to vetting your artist, also ask to see their past work for reference (and/or check out their tagged Instagram pics). Because, Shuki adds, someone who has previously received a super-saturated semi-permanent tattoo would also not be a good candidate for microshading. So make sure to take all of the above advice into account and get it right the first time.

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This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.