Microblading and Manual Shading – Why it’s Important to Learn Both

By Katarina V.| Last updated on November 3, 2022
⏱️ 4 min read

Microblading is the most sought after PMU treatment, but with the competition so strong and the brow standards so high, clients aren’t settling for average-looking brows anymore.

Learning the basic microblading technique is the first step towards starting the career as a microblading artist, but to be able to fulfill all your clients’ needs and desires, you will also need to learn the technique of manual shading at some point.

So today, we’re looking into the importance of manual shading for growing your business.

What is manual shading?

Manual shading is a techniques used to complement and complete the results of microblading. It is done after the microblading strokes have been finished to add a subtle shade between them and enhance the look. As opposed to the hair-like strokes of microblading, the shade is created in dotting motions; this technique is sometimes called pixelization.

The shadow is lightest on the inner part of the brow, and gradually darkens towards the tail as the pixel saturation increases, so there’s a very subtle ombre effect. Like microblading, it is done manually, either using the microblading pen, or a special manual shading tool.

What is manual shading?

Image source: Instagram / federica_truccopermanente

Eyebrow machine shading vs manual shading

The enhancement can be achieved with a PMU machine too, and more experienced artists do it quite successfully. However, learning machine shading for eyebrows takes time and money.

Using a machine for PMU can be difficult and entails a lot of practice. It is necessary to take a whole separate course to learn machine shading, and while it pays off, as you’ll be able to do powder and ombre brows, it’s not very useful if your focus is microblading. The price of a quality machine can also be an obstacle for artists just starting out; cashing out several hundred dollars for a machine might be a problem, and you’ll want to get the best microblading shading machine possible, otherwise the results will be subpar.

Manual shading is a technique similar to microblading and the same or very similar tools are used, so it will be much easier to pick up, and it will make it possible to take on more clients.

Manual shading vs powder brows – what’s the difference?

Although these two techniques sound similar, they give very different results and are done differently. Powder brows or microshading are generally (but not necessarily) done with a PMU machine, and there are no microblading strokes involved. The pixels are much more obvious, there is less definition, and the blurry outline can go above the upper edge of the brows.

With the final results so different, it’s unlikely a client interested in microblading will want to incorporate elements of the powder technique, while many of them love the subtle enhancement achieved through manual shading.

Microblading, Manual Shading, Machine Shading and Ombre Shading - what is the difference?

Image source: Instagram / rgbwilsonartistry

How can mastering manual shading help my business?

This additional skill allows you to satisfy the needs of a larger number of clients. A problem microblading artists often face is having to turn down a client because they can’t give them the desired result, be it due to lack of skill, or their skin type. Accepting a client knowing you won’t be able to give them satisfactory results is unethical and can seriously damage your reputation.

Microblading oily skin is notoriously problematic, as the overproduction of sebum pushes out the pigment within just a few months. Machine treatments are generally more successful for oily skin as pixelization works better than drawing strokes, but if the client specifically wants the effects of microblading, you can make it work by adding shading. They’ll probably still need more frequent touch ups, but their results will last longer than strokes alone.

Even if your client doesn’t have oily skin, shading takes the microblading results to a whole new level. You should always strive to give them fabulous brows they’ll love rather than just be satisfied with. This will help you build your reputation as someone who cares for clients’ needs and lead to more bookings.

Where can I learn manual shading?

If you decide to pursue a microblaidng career, planning ahead is crucial. You should definitely bear in mind that you’ll need to learn shading at some point, and know your options, which come down to taking an integrative microblading+shading course, or a separate shading course. Eyebrow shading is permanent, so it’s not enough to watch a manual or machine brow shading tutorial. Also, you need to be licensed for every PMU service you offer.

The most practical option is to choose a 2-in-1 course that teaches both microblading and manual shading. These training are often called combo brows, but academies sometimes name treatments something different for the purposes of branding. So before you choose a course, read the specification.

If your microblading course didn’t include shading, or you haven’t quite mastered it yet, there are separate live or online shading courses. Choosing between a live and an online course depends on your needs, but keep in mind that during a live event you’ll learn how to hold the machine during brow shading, or a shading tool during manual shading, which is tricky to master online.

Learning both techniques at once is more practical as you can practice both from the beginning, but it may be too much information at once for some. The combo courses might be more expensive than just the microblading option, but it’s cheaper than taking both courses separately.

To conclude

Learning the manual shading technique is very useful, as it enables you to take on more clients, which will increase your income, and give exceptional results, which will boost your image. Once you master microblading, shading is a piece of cake, as the techniqes are somewhat similar.

Cover image source: Freepik



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