Different Types of Microblading – 4 Versions of Hair Stroke Brows

By Emily M.| Last updated on March 7, 2023
Different types of microblading
⏱️ 5 min read

Microblading has evolved so much over the years there are now many styles and variations you can get. This is great, because if you’re getting permanent brows, you have many options to choose from and you can get your brows looking exactly how you want them.

PMU artists love to experiment and over the years, they’ve developed different types of microblading that give slightly different results. Let’s go through 4 techniques that can give you hair stroke brows, plus some patterns.

What Different Types of Microblading Are There?

While basic microblading implies drawing hair-like strokes with a manual blade, spin-offs are either done with different tools, or combine microblading with other techniques. Let’s explain how microshading, nanoblading, nano brows and pixelblading are different from the original treatment.


Microshading is a brow PMU technique which implies shading in the brows by implementing pigments in tiny dots that add up to a powdery effect. While the shade can be done on its own, it’s often combined with microblading strokes.

This combination of strokes and shading goes by many names:

All these are essentially the same thing. Microblading strokes are drawn in the head of the brows only or throughout the whole arch. A machine or a manual shading tool is used to shade in the areas between the hairs.

Alternatively, you don’t have to get strokes at all, but that version is usually called powder brows.

The combination of strokes and shading gives a more dramatic look than basic microblading. It’s also more suitable for oilier skin than just manual strokes – the overproduction of sebum can blur and spread the strokes, so it’s better to have some shading that will camouflage the pigment migration.

Check out our Complete Guide Through Microshading for more info.

Eyebrow microshading before and afterImage source: Instagram @sarabarz228


A trend that’s been emerging in the past year or so is doing manual microblading with an extremely fine blade. In the past, artists predominantly used blades with 0.20 – 0.22 mm diameters. These numbers probably don’t mean much to you, but let’s put it in perspective: now, many of them use 0.18 mm blades, called nano blades.

Microblading technique + a nano blade = nanoblading!

Sounds simple, right? Well, the terminology in the PMU industry can get confusing. While most artists consider nanoblading to be microblading done with a nano blade, others call their machine hair stroke technique nanoblading, but more on that below.

An untrained eye probably won’t be able to distinguish between these 2 different types of microblading, but nano blades are quite a bit thinner, and they create thinner strokes. The brows look fluffier and more delicate, plus there’s less chance of pigment spreading.

You can find some additional info on nanoblading here.

Eyebrow nanoblading before and afterImage source: Instagram @fernandafernandespmu

Digital Microblading AKA Nano Brows

Nano brows are hair stroke brows done with a machine. A PMU device features thin needles on top, which go in and out at high speed, create pictures on the skin and implement pigments into them.

These dots of pigment can be drawn very close together to create a stroke. You can differentiate between manual and digital microblading by the extreme precision the PMU machine provides, so every stroke can be placed exactly where you want it.

Machine implementation is also said to be gentler on the skin, there’s less chance of excessive skin trauma, and pigments implemented that way last somewhat longer in the skin.

For clients with oily, mature or sensitive skin, nano brows are the best choice among different types of microblading.

Check out our Complete Guide Through Nano Brows for more info.

Nano brows before and afterImage source: @zeynepsarii_phiacademy


Finally, we should also mention pixelblading, a manual technique where the strokes are drawn by poking the skin with a “wispy” blade, rather than dragging it.

Right now, very few artists are doing microblading this way. Those who do claim that it’s a gentler version of microblading, since pigments are tapped in, without slicing the skin. However, it’s a tricky technique to get right, and you can’t really get the precision and pigment saturation a PMU machine provides.

We’ll be sure to keep track of this technique and provide updates!

In the meantime, you can find some more info on pixelblading (and pixelshading) here.

Eyebrow pixelblading before and afterImage source: Instagram @mandydormaierbrows

Note – There Are Also Different Patterns

So, now that we’ve established several techniques that can be used for different types of microblading, we also need to mention the fact that hair strokes can be drawn in different patterns.

Every artist has a unique style, but some of them work hard to develop recognizable patterns which catch on, so to say, and become something clients hear about and want to get.

The 2 patterns that have established themselves as sought-after and popular are hyperrealism brows and feather brows. Let’s review them!

Hyperrealism Brows

Hyperrealism brows are supposed to look more realistic than microblading. Instead of giving you perfectly defined arches with every single hair in place, hyperrealism brows are intentionally done in a laid-back, fluffy-to-the-point-of-messy style, with longer strokes that look like they’re hair clusters rather than independent. Sometimes, they even touch.

Because the strokes are so specific, hyperrealism brows are done with a machine, so they’re technically nano brows. Machine implementation also allows for strokes to be drawn very close together and even touch. This is never done with a manual blade due to the high risk of pigment migration.

The arches of hyperrealism brows are thick and they don’t have a defined outline. This is why many men go for this technique.

This article will give you more info on hyperrealism brows.

Hyperrealism brow tattooImage source: Instagram @microbrowartchicago

Feather Brows

Feather brows are a fluffy yet tidy pattern. It mostly implies filling in relatively full natural brows with extra strokes to add volume; it’s rarely done on clients who have very little to no brow hairs, as it can’t really give the fluffy effect on its own.

The strokes are spaced out, they’re thin, and they increase the thickness of brow arches. They can be done with a manual tool or a machine, and it’s another favorite among male clients.

Learn more about feather brows here.

Feather brows tattooImage source: Instagram @tanyabeautycare

How Do I Decide Between Different Types of Microblading?

First off, you need to identify your skin type and accept that, if your skin is oily, mature or very sensitive, basic microblading is simply not a good option. From there, it’s all down to your preference – choose the style that best suits your esthetic.

To see more examples of different brow styles, head over to our galleries:

Microblading Before & After

Microshading Before & After

Nano Brows Before & After

Cover image source: Freepik



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