Does Microshading Hurt? What to Expect from the Treatment

By Emily M.| Last updated on February 23, 2022
Does Microshading Hurt? What to Expect from the Treatment
⏱️ 4 min read

Microshading is a form of tattooing, and when clients hear that, a portion of them get scared it’s as painful as body tattoos! All people handle pain differently, and have different definitions of pain, so many are reluctant to book an appointment before they find out does microshading hurt.

The problem is, no salon seems to give a straight answer!

Well, PMUHub is here to ease your mind. We’ve prepared a compilation of clients’ experiences in an attempt to describe what microshading feels like.

How Is Microshading Done?

Microshading is a form of machine cosmetic tattooing, which means 2 things:

  • It’s done with a permanent makeup machine, not a tattoo gun, which is gentler on the skin
  • The pigments don’t go very deep, so the needle doesn’t go far into the skin

Although the skin is punctured over and over again with a needle, the perforations are extremely small and the needle is very thin. The tiny dots add up to a shade which can look very nicely blended. Depending on how opaque or sheer you want the shade to be, more or fewer dots (or pixels) are made.

But microshading is sometimes done as a combination of shading and hair strokes, to get combo or hybrid brows. The strokes can be created with the same machine, or with a manual microblading tool, or blade.

How Is Microshading Eyebrows Treatment Done?Image source: Instagram

Does Microshading Hurt?

Not really.

Microshading is generally considered relatively pain-free. Obviously, everyone has a different pain threshold and the definition of pain varies from person to person.

But the treatment is done with anesthetics. A numbing cream is applied to the brow area before any needling starts, and it’s left on for long enough to numb the area. This is usually between 15 and 20 minutes, although it depends on the formula.

During the treatment, if the initial numbing wears off, more numbing can be added. This formula is different, though – it’s suitable for broken skin, so it works a lot faster.

But besides the numbing, what makes the treatment relatively pain-free is the nature of the application. The needles go really shallow into the skin, and the needles are very thin. They enter the skin at a 90° angle, so they afflict minimal damage. Some clients can get through the treatment with no numbing at all!


Artists have all kinds of tricks for maximizing the effects of numbing. Many use a plastic seal wrap to lock in the topical anesthetic. Some like to gently exfoliate the skin before applying the numbing – removing some of the dead skin cells from the surface allows for better absorption.

It’s important to note, though, that everyone reacts to numbing differently. It can be more or less intense, and some people need more time for it to kick in than others.

The Sensations You Feel During The Microshading TreatmentImage source: Freepik

What Does It Feel Like Then?

Different clients describe the sensations they feel during the treatment differently. Some of the most common descriptions are:

  • Pinching
  • Tingling
  • Brow hairs being tweezed out very quickly
  • Like an electric toothbrush pressed against the skin
  • A bunch of mosquito bites.

If you’re used to grooming your brows by tweezing or waxing them, it will be a piece of cake.

Do the Strokes Hurt?

If you’re getting combo brows, the strokes can be created with a machine or with a manual microblading blade.

If the strokes are done with a machine, it will feel just like the shading.

If they’re done with a blade, the experience is somewhat different. The blade is dragged through the skin, so it may be a bit worse than the poking of the machine. Numbing is still used, but you will feel more pressure, and probably more stinging.

Clients who’ve had both machine work and manual blading report that manual blading is more uncomfortable. But since only a few strokes are added, it will be over quickly.

For a more detailed description of what microblading feels like, check out this article.

Do the Microshading Strokes Hurt?Image source: Instagram @mccaulliemakeupandspmu

Does Microshading Hurt More During My Menstrual Cycle?

Actually, yes. For many women, permanent makeup application is more uncomfortable while they’re on their period, since the hormone shifts cause the skin to become more sensitive.

If you can, book your appointment before or after your period, to avoid the discomfort.

What Do I Do If Microshading Does Hurt?

If you feel pain when the artist starts the treatment, tell them. You may need more time for numbing. If, at any point of the procedure, the needling starts to hurt, let your artist know. They can take a break and apply secondary numbing.

Does Microshading Hurt After the Treatment?

We’ve gone over does microshading hurt during the treatment, but what about afterwards?

After the treatment, the numbing will wear off at one point and you may feel some tenderness in your brows. This is normal, since the skin does go through trauma and reacts. It shouldn’t be anything prominent, but if you feel like the tenderness is too much, ask your artists if you can apply a cold compress or take a painkiller.

Then, your skin will probably feel dry and tight, like a sunburn. Muscle through it for a day or two, and after that, you’ll probably start applying the prescribed aftercare ointment which will get rid of the tightness.

Does Microshading Hurt After the Treatment?Image source: Instagram @flawlessbrowspmu

Final Note

Your artist will probably warn you about what you can expect in the days after the treatment, but it’s good to know what’s lying ahead before you get your brows done. Since microshading implies breaking the surface of the skin, your brows will heal like any other surface skin injury. This means they’ll scab, itch, and finally flake off.

For a more detailed description of what to expect during microshading healing, read this guide.

Cover image source: Freepik



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