Microblades - The Ultimate Guide to Microblading Needles
Here’s a detailed guide through microblades – how they’re used, what sizes and configurations they come in, and which ones to choose.
Microblades are an artist’s most important tool. Before you start working, you have to get to know your weapons!
As part of training, you need to learn all about them, but the thing is, many courses only teach you how to use them and don’t really focus on the theory behind them.
To fill in those gaps, we’ve prepared a detailed guide through microblades, with everything you need to know and some practical tips that will help you perfect your skill.
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Basic Info on Microblades
- Microblades, microblading blades, or even microblading needles, are tools used for eyebrow microblading.
- The tool consists of a handle and a blade at the tip. You can get a metal holder onto which disposable blades are attached manually, or an integrated disposable tool made of plastic with a blade already attached.
- The blade is actually made up of tiny pins/needles placed close together into a row.
- Microblades come in different configurations, sizes, and thicknesses.
- The blade is used by dipping it into PMU pigment, pressing it against the skin with light pressure and dragging it in order to make an elongated incision that resembles a natural brow hair.
Image source: Freepik
Properties of Different Microblading Blades
The properties of the stroke you’ll get depend to a large degree on the properties of the blade you’re making it with.
The features every microblade has are the type of its base, the shape, the size, and the thickness.
Let’s explain each of the properties and how they affect your technique and the hair strokes you create.
Base of the Blade
The pins in a microblade are attached to a base, which is then attached to the handle. Based on the material from which the base is made, we distinguish between flexi and hard blades:
As the name suggests, the flexi blades are slightly flexible. The base is made of plastic, and it slightly bends with the dragging motion.
This gives a sort of safe space – as the plastic blade absorbs some of the pressure, there’s less risk of going too deep, or drawing the incision too straight.
They give you a good sense of the pressure you’re applying and the resistance of the skin. You will feel it when your client’s skin is on the tougher side, or particularly thin. It’s all quite intuitive with flexi blades.
Therefore, flexi blades are suitable for beginners.
Most blades on the market are actually flexi, which makes sense as these are easier to work with and minimize the chance of botching your client.
If your client has thin, sensitive skin, flexi blades are more suitable.
Hard blades have a stainless steel base. They are not flexible.
The rigidity of these blades makes them somewhat harder to work with, which is probably why they’re not particularly popular.
These are not the best choice for thin, sensitive skin, as it’s very easy to go too deep.
Arguably the most important microblading blades’ difference is in the shape that the tips of the pins form. This is what determines the way in which the blade will enter the skin and how they will move through it.
Microblades come in 2 main shapes:
- Slanted Flat or Curved – S/F/C Blade
- U-Shape – U blade
Let’s discuss each.
Slanted blades have pins that are the longest on one edge, and get gradually shorter towards the other edge, usually forming a curve, rather than a straight line. When pressed against the skin, all the pins touch it.
Slanted blades are relatively easy to use.
They are great for straighter strokes, both longer and shorter. They are perfect for doing tail strokes, which should be straighter. Shorter strokes are easier to do with a slanted blade than with a U-blade.
What artists highlight as the biggest benefit of using a slanted blade is the fact that you can clearly see where your stroke will begin, and have them start exactly where you want, which can be tricky with the U blade.
But slanted microblades can be difficult to curve, which is why some artists don’t like using them. It’s possible to get a curved stroke, but you really have to rotate the blade, while keeping close attention to where it’s going.
When you see an S, F or a C in the name of a blade, it means that the blade has a slanted shape.
The general favorite. This shape implies that the pins of the blade are the longest in the center, and get shorter towards the edges, forming a U. When pressed against the skin, only the peak and one of the sides make contact.
U blades are more versatile – they can create both straight and curved strokes, long or short, in any part of the brows.
They are much easier to curve, the motion of rotation is more natural.
But U blade microblading is not without flaws. Artists claim that the U blade is harder to master, and it takes time. One problem beginners highlight when using U microblades is it’s harder to see exactly where the stroke will begin, since the peak of the blade is also curved.
Still, it’s worth putting in the effort to learn how to use it.
When you see a letter U in the name of a blade, this is the shape it points to.
Which Are Better, Slanted or U Microblades?
Although it seems that U blades get more love, it’s all individual. Some artists simply work better with one over the other. Both shapes have certain advantages and challenges. Every artist has to try various blades and see which ones click and which don’t.
The choice of blade can also depend on the microblading pattern you’re doing:
- If you want to go for straighter strokes, go with a slanted one.
- If you’re going for curvier strokes and a more wavy pattern, go with the U blade.
But it’s worth noting that you can switch between blades while you’re working, using different shapes and sizes within a single brow.
Image source: YouTube Screenshot Boss Brows
Number of Pins (Microblading Blade Sizes)
The number of pins in a blade determines its horizontal length, or microblading blade sizes.
The general range is between 7 and 21, although very short blades aren’t used that often. So, when you see a number in this range in the name of a blade, it tells you how many pins there are in it.
Based on the number of pins, we divide microblades into several categories:
- Short – 7-9 pins. These are the easier blades to curve, but getting long strokes with them takes effort. Perfect for drawing short strokes between longer ones, and adding extra strokes at the touch up. They provide a lot of precision.
- Medium – 10-17 pins. Suitable for longer strokes, and great for outline strokes. Generally versatile, but less popular than long blades. They’re perfect for beginners who need to work slow so their strokes don’t turn out too long.
- Long – 18-21. The most common. It can create long strokes easily, and you can also do shorter ones, but with care and caution, so it’s best to gain some experience before switching to it.
The most popular blade is 18. The general agreement is that it provides enough versatility.
Perhaps the most important of the factors that determine the attractiveness and longevity of healed strokes is the thickness of the blade, AKA the diameter of the pins in it.
Blade thickness is expressed in millimeters. The general range is between 0.15 and 0.25 mm, so they’re all very fine.
When you see a number like 0.15 or .15 in the name of a blade, it reveals its thickness.
The thicker the blade, the thicker the stroke it will give.
You can go about your choice of blade in several ways:
- Match the blade to the thickness of your client’s hair. The thicker their hair, the thicker the blade.
- Match the blade to the pattern you’re doing. If you’re doing a denser pattern, choose a thinner blade that will allow you to draw strokes closer together. Thinner blades are more suitable for fluffier, hyperrealistic microblading styles.
- Choose a blade and develop a signature style with it.
In general, thinner blades are more popular, for several reasons. Thin strokes are less likely to blur over time. They cause less trauma to the skin. They allow more precision and give more delicate strokes.
The most popular blade thickness is 0.18. It’s the perfect thickness for realistic strokes, not too thick, but thick enough to give noticeable strokes.
Microblading done with a 0.15 to 0.18 blade is called nanoblading more and more often. Read more about nanoblading in this guide.
Blades can be attached to a holder in 2 ways:
- Straight downwards
- Or at an angle
With integrated microblading tools, you can choose one version or the other. With a blade and holder you combine, you usually have the option to attach the blade in either position.
There isn’t much difference between the 2 blade positions. It’s down to which one you find more comfortable to work with.
The blade needs to enter the skin at a straight angle. This means you have to hold it in a certain way to achieve this. Try both types of positioning, and see which makes it easier to achieve the proper penetration angle.
What Are Microblades Made Of?
The pins of microblading blades are made from stainless steel, usually 304 or 316 grade that contains nickel. The presence of nickel makes the alloy less prone to corrosion.
However, it can also trigger allergies in certain clients. An average of 12-15% of women and 1-2% of men are allergic to nickel, so make sure to ask your client if they have known nickel allergies before you start microblading.
Ideally, you should do a couple of strokes, behind their ear or on another hidden part of the skin, as part of the patch test you need to do a few days before the procedure.
What Are the Best Microblades?
The best microblade is the one you’re most comfortable with and which gives the best strokes in your opinion.
However, there are certain blades a large portion of artists use, love and recommend. Let’s go through a few specific blades and see why artists like them.
Tina Davies Professional 14 Curved Nano Microblade
Tina Davies’ range of microblades all have a 30° angle positioning. Developed by one of the most renowned and talented artists, this is probably a reflection of her own preference.
Her range features both U blades and curved ones, all of the equally high quality, but today, we’d like to zoom in on the 14 Curved Nano.
It’s a nano blade, which in their case means it has a 0.18 diameter, so it gives delicate strokes which are not too thin. It’s a hard blade (out of her range, only the 18 U and the 16 C are flexi), so it needs some extra pressure control.
It’s a disposable tool sterilized with EO gas. The blade itself is made of 316 steel, an alloy particularly resistant to corrosion.
A pack contains 8 individually packaged disposable tools, and each contains a pigment ring, a brow ruler, and a ruler on the side of the tool handle, which are cool extra features.
The Tina Davies microblade range includes a sample set of 4 of her most popular disposable tools, so you can go straight for a blade you think will work for you, or try different ones and decide.
PhiBrows 18 U ECC 0.18 Microblade
The best-seller out of the PhiBrows blade range, this is another 0.18, but it’s a U shape, great for curved strokes and Phi signature microblading patterns.
Phi tools have cool special features too.
There’s a lint-free microbrush at the upper end of the tool for rubbing pigments into the strokes. This is great – you don’t have to buy micro brushes separately, and it lets you work quicker as there’s no switching between them.
You also get a self-adhesive pad for cleaning the blade of pigment excess during the treatment. You can stick it right onto your glove.
PhiBrows blades are made of 304 steel. They are pre-sterilized, including the microbrush.
You can get this blade as a disposable tool (10 per pack), or just the blade (50 per pack) that can be combined with a compatible holder.
Mellie Microblading U18 NANO .15mm
The U shape in 0.15 diameter is slowly becoming one of the most popular microblading needles, and the Mellie one is generally praised.
The extreme thinness of the blade means it gives the thinnest possible strokes. The U shape means they can be curved easily. These 2 factors add up to extremely realistic strokes.
The handle of Mellie tools ends with a sponge applicator for pigment masks. They come in boxes of 10 individually packaged EO sterilized tools.
A manual tool used for shading in the brows between hair strokes to get a combo brow is called a microshading tool, microshading blade, or microshading needle.
This tool is different from microblading needles. It’s not a blade, but a cluster of needles that are used to poke the skin to implement pigments in tiny dots that add up to a powdery effect.
The diameter of the individual needles in microshading tools can vary from 0.16 to 0.35 mm.
The choice should come down to the client’s skin type – the more sensitive their skin, the thinner the needles should be. The thickest ones should only be used for particularly thick and oily skin.
The number of needles in a configuration determines how large an area will be shaded in a single poke. The microshading needles come in different configurations: round and flat.
The needles are placed into a circular formation. This means you can cover a larger area in one poke, which speeds up the shading process, but you also need to be really careful not to go outside of the area you want shaded.
They are suitable for more intense, more saturated shading.
The needles are placed into either a single row, or multiple rows close together. The formation resembles the magnum configuration of needle cartridges.
They are suitable for precise shading between brow strokes, if you need extra precision when shading.
What Are the Best Microshading Needles?
Another question you’ll have to answer yourself, but we can give you some suggestions to try.
Tina Davies 19 Shader
Tina’s go-to shader and the only microshading tool in the range.
The pins in this shader are 0.25, placed into a slanted circular formation, or honeycomb as they call it, and they get gradually shorter towards one side. Due to the 30° angle positioning, they penetrate the skin evenly and consistently.
PhiBrows 15 Double Flat Shading Blade
This is a 2-row flat shader with extremely thin needles. It provides great precision, so it makes shading around edges easy.
You get 50 blades in a pack, and you can use them with the PhiBrows Universal Holder or the Glow Holder.
Why Do Microblades Have an Expiration Date?
The question of can microblades expire may not have crossed your mind, but it’s important you know that yes, microblading blades do have an expiration date.
As part of the manufacturing process, disposable microblading blades are sterilized. This means they are guaranteed to be free of bacteria and viruses and safe for cutting the skin open.
The expiry date on them marks the date after which the sterilization is no longer valid. An expired blade isn’t considered sterile anymore and it cannot be used.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Microblading Needles?
Here’s a list of additional pieces of info, useful tips and things to watch out for:
- Always inspect the packaging of your disposable tool or blade before opening it. If there’s any type of damage to the packaging, the tool has potentially been contaminated and you cannot use it. Dispose of it properly.
- After you open the packaging, always inspect the tool/blade before you use it. If there’s any sign of damage, any sign of corrosion, or anything that seems off, don’t use it. Dispose of it properly.
- Always open your tools in front of the client. This way, you assure them you’re doing everything according to protocol, that they’re getting a fresh blade, they feel safer and you seem more professional.
- Disposable microblading blades have to be thrown away as soon as you’re done using them, into a sharps container. You mustn’t leave them lying around, waiting for you or someone else to get poked or scratched with them.
- As you’re working, remember to wipe your blade against sterile gauze from time to time. Pigments can clog the blade as they dry.
- Sometimes, blades can dull out during the microblading procedure. If you notice this has happened, get a fresh blade. You don’t want your client walking out with perfectly crisp strokes on one brow and thick messy ones on the other!
Microblades – Main Takeaways
As we’ve noted a few times in the guide, there’s no one perfect, holy grail microblading blade that stands out as the best of the best. The best microblading blade is the one that fits you best and that gives you the best results.
Don’t let any trainer tell you otherwise! Try different microblading blades and see for yourself.