Eyebrow Tattoo vs. Microblading: Key Differences

The differences between eyebrow tattoo vs microblading deal with the application processes and pigments used. We bring you the pros and cons of the treatments compared.

Eyebrow Tattoo vs. Microblading: Key Differences

Image source: Instagram @vc_pmu_cosmetics

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2019. Updated May 2021.

Many people believe that microblading and eyebrow tattooing are one and the same regarding both the technique used and the final outcome. The reality, however, is different, and there are many differences between eyebrow tattoo vs microblading.

Although the goals and the processes of these treatments are similar, the type of ink used and the longevity of the two versions of permanent eyebrows differ significantly.

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So, What Is Microblading?

If you “suffer” from overplucked eyebrows, or you simply have thin and sparse arches, then microblading might be the right treatment for you. It enables you to reshape your eyebrows and give them a trendy, fuller look.

The key to this look lies in the skillful hands of the estheticians who use a manual blade that creates tiny cuts in the basal level of the epidermis, and implement pigment into it.

This technique, if done correctly, mimics the look of real hairs and provides natural-looking brows.

The incisions are thin and relatively shallow, so they cause minimal to no bleeding and the pain is also negligible thanks to the numbing cream which is applied before the treatment. A very small amount of pigment is deposited into the cuts, which prevents the pigment from “bleeding out”.

Want to find out more about microblading? Follow the links:

Microblading Eyebrows – The Ultimate Guide

Microblading Cost

Microblading Before and After Gallery

What is microblading - by PMUHub

Image source: Instagram @freya_vera

old eyebrow tattoo technique before microblading

Image source: PhiAcademy

The Lifespan of the Treatments

There is a significant difference in the lifespans of eyebrow tattoo vs microblading.

Microblading Lifespan

Microblading is a semi-permanent makeup technique that uses pigments that fade after 1-2 years, depending on your skin type and your lifestyle.

This fading process happens gradually, with microblading touch ups needed every once in a while, depending on your personal preferences.

Another benefit of this procedure is that you can just let them fade if you grow tired of this look. The pigments will gradually become lighter and less visible until they finally fade. It’s also possible to accelerate the fading and get rid of them in a few weeks.

Should something go wrong with your microblading, there are several removal options.

Traditional Eyebrow Tattoo Lifespan

The traditional eyebrow tattoo, on the other hand, is there to stay.

Once the ink is inserted, it stays for a lifetime. The possible side-effects of eyebrow tattoo vs microblading include the change in the hue of the ink, which can sometimes go from black to greenish or bluish. The color becomes duller and less vivid in time.

The only option for tattoo removal is laser, which is expensive, painful, and can seriously damage the skin.

The Difference in Application Process

Although it might seem that both of the treatments are done in the same way, there is a significant difference between microblading vs eyebrow tattoo implementation.

Artists who do microblading use a manual tool that creates micro-cuts using a tiny blade. Tattoo artists, on the other hand, use a machine that will insert the permanent ink deep into your skin.

The blade does less damage to your skin with microblading vs eyebrow tattoo, and less pigment is inserted. With tattooing, a larger amount of ink is deposited, which can lead to color bleeding out after a while. This changes the shape of your eyebrow tattoo and blurs it.

Difference in application process - microblading vs tattoo

Image source: Instagram @vickyrushbrowsandbeauty

The Difference in Microblading vs Eyebrow Tattoo Pigments

Apart from the difference in the application process, another key difference is in the pigment which the artists use.

While tattoo artists use permanent ink that can last a lifetime, microblading technicians use a permanent makeup pigment that fades and usually lasts from 1 to 2 years, depending on skin type and other factors. After this period, the clients need to do a microblading touch up if they wish to still have their microbladed brows.

The difference in longevity stems from the different formulations.

Tattoo inks are notorious because of the fact that their formulation is largely unregulated. FDA isn’t responsible for regulating the use of pigments and inks used for permanent makeup and tattooing, so it’s not uncommon for there to be an incomplete list of ingredients on these products.

Although neither product is officially regulated, tattoo ink is far more problematic.

Due to the fact that it’s supposed to stay in the skin forever, its formula often contains aggressive, artificial ingredients and chemicals, which sometimes include lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, titanium, and many other ingredients sometimes found in paint. These ingredients can trigger severe allergic reactions and even disease.

Pigments used for microblading are generally considered safer.

There are several common types of pigments, but their formulas are largely based on iron oxides which the body can break down and absorb, and as long as the artist you choose uses a quality, well-known brand which discloses their formula, and does a patch test to prevent allergic reactions, there’s virtually no risk.

Eyebrow Tattoo vs Microblading, Which One Is More Painful?

With both microblading vs tattoo, the thin skin on the face is broken over and over again, so there is bound to be some discomfort.

Some clients compare the sensation of microblading to slight pinching, some describe it as pressure, but hardly anyone reports they felt pain per se.

Both tattoo and microblading artists use numbing creams to numb the area before the procedure. This is standard practice in permanent makeup salons and a fairly common one in tattoo parlors.

If you’re particularly concerned about possible pain during eyebrow tattooing, make sure you share your worries with the artist and check if they use anesthetics.

Microblading vs Tattoo - which one is more painful

Image source: Instagram @blade.linsi

The Pros and Cons of Treatments Compared

Now that we’ve established the differences between these two procedures, let’s sum up the pros and cons of eyebrow tattoo vs microblading.

Pros and Cons of Microblading


  • Provides natural-looking brows
  • Semi-permanent
  • Great choice if you wish to reshape your arches
  • Fades gradually, and looks nice during the whole process


  • Lasts between ½ year to 2 years
  • More expensive, and requires touch-ups

You can find the complete list of permanent makeup pros and cons here.

Pros and Cons of Eyebrow Tattooing


  • Lasts a lifetime
  • Cheaper than microblading
  • Great for the middle part of the brows, gives fullness and thickness


  • Can change color after a while
  • Can become thicker in time because the ink might “move”
  • Doesn’t look natural but rather like a block of color

NOTE: Even permanent makeup pigments can change color in some cases, but if they are inserted at the proper depth, this shouldn’t be a problem. This issue is much more common with eyebrow tattoo vs microblading.

The Pros and Cons of Treatments Compared - Eyebrows Tattoo and Microblading

Image source: Instagram @draclaudiamejia

Eyebrow Tattoo vs Microblading – Main Takeaways

When discussing eyebrow tattoo vs microblading, most would agree that microblading is a clear winner.

Traditional tattooing is outdated and has been almost completely replaced with updated forms of brow tattooing – permanent makeup.

Microblading, ombre powder brows, feather brows, or nano brows are also called cosmetic tattoos and have many advantages over the traditional one.

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