I’ve written before about the wonders of microblading: the magic treatment behind so many celebs’ perfect, make up-less brows. While microblading is slowly becoming more common, the treatment is expensive enough—and permanent enough—that I assumed my microblading days were years away, if they existed at all. Perfectly sculpted brows first thing in the morning were a luxury for the rich and famous—I, who struggles to go a single day without spilling food on my shirt, was not worthy. Cut to: in an exchange I thought maybe I had dreamed, EverTrue Microblading Salon offered me a treatment with their head stylist. I (obviously) couldn’t accept fast enough, and two weeks later, I’m confident it’s the best beauty treatment I’ve ever gotten. Read on for details on the procedure, aftercare, and some dramatic before and after shots.
WARNING: Side effects of this procedure may include taking a disgusting amount of selfies, a small obsession with what other semi-permanent treatments could also improve your face, and a general spike in vanity. WORTH IT.
The Microblading Procedure
I got my brows done at EverTrue’s Flatiron salon, with their Master Therapist Michelle Wu. (Pictures of her work, and other brow specialists, are available on the salon’s Instagram.) Wherever you go, make sure that you look at samples of your stylist’s work beforehand, and even speak to past clients if possible. With semi-permanent makeup, there’s no such thing as being too careful. While I’d been daydreaming about this procedure for years, I found myself getting nervous the night before. What if I hated it? What if it hurt? Was I crazy for going through with this?
Luckily, both the salon (pictured above) and Michelle herself were incredibly soothing—and it didn’t hurt that everyone there, down to the receptionist, had flawless brows of their own. Before diving in to the procedure, Michelle did some tweezing, and we discussed brow shape and color. My brows, as you’ll see in a moment, have always been lighter and patchier than I’ve liked, which meant about 20 minutes spent with my Anastasia brow pencil every morning. They’re also lacking when it comes to having a defined shape, or noticeable arch, something that’s harder to fake with my particular makeup skills.
After listening to my concerns, Michelle drew in my brows with pencil, showing me exactly where every stroke would go, and what the end product would look like. The first time through, she gave me a very natural look, following the existing shape of my brows and just filling in. On a second draft, I asked her if she could give me more of an arch, even if that meant tweezing my brows further to fake it (it did). She drew it in, I fell in love, and she went off to mix up a pigment that would match my natural hair. Twenty minutes of numbing cream later—and 30-45 minutes of Michelle individually drawing in each “hair” with a tiny, pigment-carrying blade—I was all done. In less than 90 minutes, and with no pain other than a slight soreness toward the end, my brows were complete.
My brows, before and after:
Honestly, most of my night-before fears about microblading weren’t about the process itself; they were about the aftercare. Mostly, I blame this InStyle article, which led me to that my brows needed to be on full lockdown for a week following. No moisture (including sweat), no showering unless you wanted to tempt fate, and don’t you dare roll over in your sleep—unless you want to ruin your brows like this author’s unfortunate, side-sleeping co-worker did. Obviously, this writer had no malicious intent, but as someone who believes basically everything she reads on the internet, I was pretty f*cking stressed.
After carefully rattling off my concerns to Michelle, she gave me a few pieces of good news. Given improvements in the pigment they use, microbladed brows now only need to stay dry for 48 hours after the procedure—not a full week. And short of sleeping fully on my face, she was very skeptical that I would manage to mess up her work overnight. Phew! That being said, I had still just gotten eyebrows tattooed onto my face, and she was clear that certain aspects of aftercare were non-negotiable. For one week: apply a thin layer of healing balm (provided) twice daily, don’t get any product on your brows, and don’t apply direct pressure. This means when people see your brows and immediately try to touch them, you back the f*ck away. (Maybe no one in your life will do this. But all of my weirdo friends definitely did).
So yeah, my showering regimen definitely took a hit the following week (I could get them wet after 48 hours, but I was scared of stray body wash or shampoo getting in there). And I may or may not have yelled at my boyfriend every time he tried to kiss me, but every rose has its thorns and all that. It was a slightly annoying week with 3-5 heart attacks that I’d fatally messed up—but I never had, and my brows remained intact.
The Final Results
Finally, I didn’t realize how much your brows change in the weeks following the microblading procedure. For the first few days, they were much darker—now, two weeks later, they’re almost too light. This is all a normal part of the healing process, as your skin scabs, heals, and grows back, and as the pigment adjusts to your skin. Brows will reach their “final” color 4-6 weeks after the initial process, and just in time for a mandatory touch-up session, where your stylist can fill in any holes, go bigger if desired, and make adjustments to the shade.
I have to say, though, both at their darkest and their lightest in this healing process, my brows look the best they’ve ever looked. Even my sister, who is skeptical of all beauty treatments that take more than water to remove, was thoroughly impressed. And of all the slight modifications I’ve made to my appearance over the years—eyelash extensions, laser facials, coloring my hair—it’s made the biggest and best difference. Having thicker, filled-in brows gives me the exact boost I sought out with my minimal makeup routine: I look more put-together, and frankly, more natural than I did before.
Me, one week in and feeling myself:
Something about having these permanent (technically, one year to 18 months) brows makes me want to wear less makeup on the rest of my face, too (obviously, the above selfie notwithstanding). While I know these brows aren’t actually natural, I feel like they look like they could be—and appreciating a natural look goes a long way toward putting down the eyeliner and taking on the world with nothing more than my fancy new brows. It’s boosted my confidence, cut down my morning routine, and flooded my DMs with questions about the procedure. If you’re able to make a beauty investment right now, and you’re wondering what to go with, run, don’t walk, to EverTrue, or your nearest (reputable!) microblading salon.
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I’m not exactly a skin care expert. My dermatologist, who gently told me to throw out most face products I own earlier today, would agree on this. On the bright side, I have now sought professional advice and am here to share my experience/her wisdom. Today’s topic is dermarolling: an at-home skincare treatment boasting celebrity users including Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston, and Gwyneth Paltrow. (Yes, the one who stuffs jade eggs up her vagina. But her skin is glowing, no?) In my ongoing quest for flawless, “I can afford weekly facials” skin, I bought a $24 dermaroller two weeks ago. Here’s what you should know before you buy.
What Is Dermarolling & What Does It Do?
If you’ve heard of microneedling, dermarolling is just the at-home version of that. Both treatments involve creating small punctures all over your face. This (in theory) enhances collagen and elastin production. As your skin heals, the collagen boost helps smooth out wrinkles/fine lines, firm up sagging skin, and improve overall texture/tone. Both treatments can also improve the appearance of acne scars, dark spots, and large pores. As a general rule, microneedling will be more effective than dermarolling for many reasons. It’s kind of like the difference between doing a mask and getting a facial—the version performed by a professional with higher-tech tools is always going to come out better. Plus, microneedling tools can create deeper punctures than at-home dermarollers (for obvious reasons), so they naturally have a stronger effect. (Wondering why anyone would bother dermarolling? Because microneedling, like most things Gwyneth Paltrow supports, is prohibitively expensive, at $500-1,000 per session.)
Face Microneedle Dermal Roller System
How Do You Use It?
A dermaroller basically looks like a razor with a rolly head covered in needles on top. Before using it, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you disinfect it. Dermarolling with a dirty roller is literally injecting your skin with bacteria. (Sidenote: really love lecturing you all knowing full well that I “disinfected” my dermaroller with tequila. Whatever, at least I’m trying.)
To use it, you roll the needle-wheel (not the real name, do not refer to it as such) all over your face. One section at a time, roll five times in each direction (up/down/left/right) until you’ve covered the areas you want to treat. Redness is a known side effect, but I didn’t notice much. Just like, the amount you’d expect for having rubbed needles all over your face. After dermarolling, your skin will be primed for absorbing hydrating products—so load up on your fave serum/moisturizer to finish.
Not quite my experience, but you get the idea:
What Are The Effects Of Dermarolling?
The day after using this, I was the most annoying person on earth. I disappeared to my office bathroom maybe 60 times to take yet another “#nofilter” selfie. Even the most heinous of fluorescents couldn’t dim my #glow, and I felt like there was a noticeable difference in some roughness/bumpiness that had been bothering me on my cheeks. While effects like taming discoloration require long-term, consistent use of dermarolling (and my day-after glow didn’t really last), I definitely noticed a difference. Mostly, it was just a kind of shine/plumpness (I hate that word but I can’t think of a better description), plus the glow I won’t shut up about.
For reference, here was my scary face before dermarolling:
And here is my post-dermarolling glow:
Real results. Not FaceTune.
All that being said, dermarolling is not without its dangers. Common side effects can include infection, inflammation, breakouts, and damaged skin. Most experts say this can be avoided with proper cleaning and technique, but unless you’re going to dermarolling seminars on the regular, chances are you could fuck up. A lot of these issues do stem from improper cleaning practice, so please buy proper cleaning solution and be rigorous about it. Or just like, replace your dermaroller fairly often—I know you spend more than $24 on less important shit.
When I asked my dermatologist about it, she didn’t say dermarolling was bad, but she didn’t say it was good either. Mostly, she thinks of it as a less effective version of microneedling, and cautioned that dermarolling on any existing inflammation or pimples was a surefire way to spread the irritation to the rest of your face. I also found out that those bumps/redness on my cheek are in fact my new, fun mild rosacea (getting older is great), so whatever improvement I noticed after dermarolling was almost certainly in my head. Whatever! At least I was glowy!
Is this a wholehearted recommendation for dermarolling? If you caught me the day after, it would have been. But after hearing my dermatologist’s advice, I’ve sobered up on the idea of making this part of my routine. While I love buying trendy beauty products way more than as much as the next girl, sometimes less really is more—especially if you’re not sure how your skin will react. A dermatologist, on the other hand, is always a good investment.
Images: Dermstore; Giphy (3); Chris Howard / Pexels