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The 5 Stages of Microblading

Pro-tip: Trust the process!!

The 5 Stages of Microblading
Trunk Archive

You’ve probably heard about the 5 Stages of Grief, but have you heard about the 5 Stages of Microblading? No? Well, let me introduce you. I’ve gotten my brows microbladed twice now, and I’ve gone through the same gamut of emotions both times *even though* I knew exactly what to expect the second time around. Funny how that works, right? Anyway, without further ado, I give you the 5 Stages of Microblading…

Stage 1: Anticipation

After weeks of scrolling through microblading before-and-after images and talking to every last friend, family member, acquaintance or co-worker who’s ever had their eyebrows microbladed, you’ve done it. You’ve chosen a microblading artist, scanned your credit card to put down your deposit, and gotten the notification that your appointment has been confirmed.

You’re so excited to finally have the brows of your dreams. Your appointment is in your Google calendar, and if you have an Outlook calendar for work, you’ve blocked off time with the blue “Busy”/ “Leave me alone, I have things to do” bar. (Also, you might have started stalking your microblading artist’s Instagram so you can see the second they post a new pic.)

Stage 2: Awe

You’ve just left your initial microblading appointment, and you literally Can’t. Stop. Staring. At your eyebrows. They look fuller and fluffier, and your whole face seems more lifted, refreshed, and defined. You snap a quick selfie after leaving the microblading studio, and if you live in NYC, you get out your phone a few times during the subway ride home to sneak a peek at your new brows. (If you don’t live in NYC and drove to your appointment instead, disregard this part—keep those eyes on the road, please.)

Before you left the studio, you likely also booked your follow-up appointment for about 6-8 weeks later. Just in case you didn’t know, microblading is a two-step process. During your initial appointment, you and your artist will start by discussing what you’re looking for and what results you can reasonably expect. They’ll sketch out a shape (probably while your numbing cream is taking effect), and once you’re both on the same page, they’ll grab their tools and get to work.

At the end of your initial appointment, they’ll tell you what to expect in the coming days and explain that during your follow-up appointment, they’ll perfect what they started—building out your brows further, getting the shape just right for your face, and filling in any color you may lose during the healing process. You listen to them (of course you do, you’re a good listener!), but you’re a little preoccupied (there are so many mirrors here… I should look at my brows in all of them, shouldn’t I??) so perhaps you don’t retain absolutely everything they say, leading to the next stage…

Stage 3: Panic

Here’s where things start to get a little hairy, so to speak. A day or two after your initial appointment, the hair-like strokes your microblading artist so carefully placed will start to change. They’ll get darker (in some cases, a lot darker) and more blocky-looking, prompting you to DM your microblading artist panicked questions along the lines of “What is happening??? I wanted Zendaya or January Jones or [insert your favorite celeb brows here], but I have Groucho Marx.”

“The most common panicked DM I get is definitely ‘Why are my brows darker on the second day?’” says Kait Paige, the Brooklyn-based microblading artist who did my brows, and who’s taken many other clients from brow-challenged to full and fluffy. “I explain that this is to be expected. Your brows will actually change daily during the aftercare process! It can be jarring, so it’s a good idea to plan your appointment when you have downtime, definitely not before a special event.”

Kait says to expect your brows to be darker-looking for about three days after your first session. “At that point, I usually get a follow-up message from the client telling me their brows aren’t as dark anymore, and they’re relieved.”

Relieved and ready to focus on the proper healing technique, which was explained to you in depth at your initial appointment (while you were busy staring into the mirror) and also, thankfully, written out online by your helpful microblading artist.

Stage 4: Obsession

If you tend to get a little obsess-y about things (no judgment here), you may be a bit freaked out about how your brows will look after they’ve healed. And you just may be checking them in the mirror about, oh, every 14 seconds. Try to step back and trust the process as much as you can. Your brows will look great, you’ve just got to get through the healing stage. May I kindly suggest channeling your obsession to proper post-microblading care?

Priority number one: Do not let your freshly microbladed brows get wet for 7-10 days. Now, this can present some challenges as far as hair and face washing, but never fear—there are workarounds. Hair-wise, dry shampoo is your friend. But if you absolutely need to shampoo before seven days are up, you can buy these little shields that you stick on your forehead when you shower. (Or, your microblading artist may give you some. Thanks, Kait!)

Face-wise, you’ll need a bottle of micellar water (my favorite is the classic Bioderma Sensibio) and two cotton rounds (if you want reusable ones, I like Last Round). Saturate one cotton round with Bioderma and remove your sunscreen/makeup, then dampen a second cotton round with water and swipe it over your face, carefully avoiding your eyebrow area. I like this method because it replicates splashing your face with water and removes the micellar water you used to cleanse. (Technically, micellar water is no-rinse, but I always rinse it. Even though it’s a gentle cleansing agent, it’s still a cleansing agent, and I’d rather not have it stay on my face.)

Priority number two: Do not pick your scabs. Another fun fact you may or may not know is that the hair-like microblading strokes will form scabs during the healing process. Your mission is to NOT PICK the scabs to protect those precious color pigments underneath. Let the scabs fall off by themselves. Now, because we are all human, this is easier said than done. What I do is kind of reverse it and turn it into a game (“gamify” if you like that word, which I personally do not). Instead of picking off the scabs, see how long you can leave them on for. The longer they’re on, the better your brows will heal and the less color you’ll lose.

Another must-do: Avoid super-intense, sweaty workouts during your 7-10 day healing period, as well as Bikram yoga. “The heat will cause the brows to fade and not heal properly,” Kait explains. If you do end up getting a little overheated, gently blot your brows with blotting papers to remove any sweat or oil. I got this tip from one of my beauty BFFs, who discovered it from NYC microblading artist Claire Vuillemot, and it truly does help.

Once you’ve made it to day 7 (or beyond) and you can finally take a normal shower, enjoy it. Now all you have to do is wait until your follow-up appointment and repeat this whole process all over again!

Stage 5: Happiness

At this point, it’s about six weeks after your follow-up appointment, and you’ve been on a long journey, eyebrow-wise. Your new brows have settled into a color that matches your natural brow hairs, and you’re still a little surprised to wake up every morning and realize you no longer need an arsenal of products to fill things in. Quite frankly, you have a bit of a crush on your new brows.

If you do find yourself wanting (or needing) to hold your natural brow hairs in place, you have lots of options. My current favorite clear brow shapers are Ami Cole Ultra-Flex Brow Shaping Gel for a naturally fluffy look and Rare Beauty Brow Harmony Flexible Lifting Gel for a more laminated look. Brush your brows in place and congratulate yourself for making it through all 5 stages!

Note: The healing process I’ve described here is what my microblading artist recommended for me. If your artist gives you a different healing method, by all means, listen to them.

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