PMUHub lists the most important differences between two popular eyebrow enhancement treatments. Check out our Combo Brows vs. Microblading guide.
Last updated in January 2022.
Until recently, people were familiar with only one permanent makeup treatment for eyebrows – microblading. But in the meantime, new treatments have been developed and now you can choose between powder brows, nano brows, microshading, hybrid brows, and other popular cosmetic eyebrow tattoos.
Combo brows have emerged as one of the frequently sought-after treatments. But what exactly are combo brows and what is the difference between combo brows vs microblading?
Microblading is a form of permanent makeup tattoo. A manual blade is used to make small incisions in which the pigment is deposited. Once healed, they resemble hair strokes. It is a great way to get natural-looking, full and dense eyebrows.
Microblading is done with pigments, not ink, which are inserted into the surface layer of the skin. That is why it is actually not permanent – it fades after about 18 months.
Image source: Instagram @karinafavato
Combo brows are also a type of permanent makeup brow tattoo, done with pigments. They are a combination of two techniques – hair strokes and shading. Hair strokes are usually created with microblading i.e. a manual tool, but they can also be made with a machine – machine strokes or nano brows.
After that (or before, as some artists do) shading is added to fill in the space between the hair strokes. So, why is this done? Some people like the makeup look of their brows – they want them to look like they were filled in with a brow pencil or brows powder, without having to apply it on their brows every day.
Combo brows are not only for people who want a combination of hair strokes and a powdery look. They are great for people with oily skin who like microblading. The hair strokes tend to become blurry on oily skin, so adding some shading will make them look better. Also, they will last longer with some shading.
The healing process and aftercare are pretty similar for both of these treatments. Here is what it looks like day by day:
Day 1 – Your eyebrows are a fresh wound, they may look swollen and you will notice the lymph coming out. Blot the lymph a couple of times a day to avoid lymph build-up.
Day 2 – Your eyebrows may look too dark. Don’t worry, the color will fade once the brows are healed. You can start washing your eyebrows now. Avoid getting them soaking wet – use a little bit of water and antibacterial soap on a cotton pad. Make sure your brows are dry afterward.
Days 3-10 – Your eyebrows will start scabbing, then peeling. Don’t pick on the scabs, let them fall off on their own, to avoid the risk of scarring and ruining the whole process. Keep washing your eyebrows regularly, twice a day. Use a moisturizing ointment if your artists prescribed it.
Days 10 onwards – You can wash your face and brows as usual. Your brows may seem too light after the scabbing stage, but it is normal – the pigment will reappear. Two weeks after the treatment you can wear makeup and go back to your usual routine.
6-8 weeks after – Your eyebrows are completely healed and you can have a touch up. The artist will make all the necessary corrections if the eyebrows healed too patchy.
The average lifespan of microblading is 12-18 months, but combo brows last longer since there is shading added. You can expect that they will last around 2 years.
The longevity depends on your skin type – brow tattoos fade faster on oily skin, and lifestyle – if your eyebrows are exposed to the water, sweat, sun, they will fade faster. Also, your skincare routine can speed up fading – some products should be avoided after microblading and combo brows.
Image source: Instagram @edgebrows
The first touch up, done 6-8 weeks after the treatment, is mandatory for both treatments – after the healing period eyebrows may look lighter or patchy, so more pigment is added.
The frequency of other touch ups depends on how fast your eyebrows fade. Most people book touch ups once a year, but some need to do that sooner, while others, mostly those with dry skin, can book a touch up after 18 months.
The price of both treatments is pretty similar, but you can expect combo brows to cost a little bit more since some shading is added. The average price of both treatments is somewhere around $600, but of course, you will find artists who charge around $200 or those who charge even more than $1000.
Firstly, it comes down to your preferences, meaning whether you want a completely natural look of hair stroke brows done only with microblading or a more makeupish look with a bit of shading.
Secondly, it depends on your skin type. Combo brows are a better choice for people with oily skin. And they will last longer.
Also, if you have an old brow tattoo to cover, combo brows will do better at hiding pigment or ink residues.
Combo brows are a fusion of microblading (or nano brows) and shading, and they give a shaded look of the brows, while microblading gives a more natural look. Combo brows last a bit longer and are perfect for people with oilier skin who also like hair strokes.