Microblading vs. Microshading: Differences & Similarities
Read our overview of microblading vs microshading differences and similarities, and choose the right treatment for you.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January, 2020. Updated October 2021.
Microblading has been the most popular style of eyebrow tattoos for years now, and when clients come in for microblading, they may not know that there are other options available. A lot of them, for that matter.
Many versions of the semi permanent eyebrow tattoo have emerged over the years, and one of them is microshading. It’s possible you’ve heard of this treatment, but you may not be 100% sure what is the difference between microblading and microshading.
To clear up the confusion and help you decide which to get, here’s a guide through microblading vs microshading.
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What Is Microshading?
Microshading is a semi permanent eyebrow tattoo that gives the brows the look of wearing a bit of brow makeup, but it doesn’t wash off as makeup does. It’s done by implementing color into the skin underneath the brows, giving it a shade that gives the illusion of fullness.
It can be done in two styles: only adding a shade, or adding both a shade and hair strokes in the front or along the whole arch.
The strokes are tiny tattoos that imitate the look of natural brow hairs. This is how microblading is done. They can be combined with shading, and this fusion of microblading and microshading is called hybrid brows by some artists, or categorized as microshading by others.
How Is It Done?
Microshading can be done either with a manual tool or with a PMU machine, which pierces the skin in countless tiny dots. In the case of hybrid brows, the strokes are done with a manual tool.
Pigments formulated for permanent makeup are injected into the skin, where they stay for up to 3 years. At that point, they should become invisible. Unless you touch them up, of course.
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Image source: Instagram @bymadamem
What Is Microblading?
Microblading is also a style of the semi permanent eyebrow tattoo, but it gives a more natural look. It excludes the shade, and only adds hair strokes. The result is an illusion of naturally fuller brows like you have more brow hairs than you actually do.
How Is It Done?
Microblading is done exclusively with a manual tool – a very fine blade made up of several needles. It’s dragged through the skin, making scratches that look like natural hairs, which are then filled with pigments.
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Image source: Instagram @thebrowemporium
What Is the Difference Between Microblading and Microshading?
The main difference between microblading vs microshading is in the look, but there’s also the difference in the technique, longevity, and who they’re meant for.
Microblading looks completely natural, like your brows are naturally dense, while microshading looks like you’re wearing brow powder. It’s a bit more obvious but not as dramatic as powder brows.
Microblading is done manually (there’s also the machine version, but that’s called nano brows). Microshading can be done with a manual shading tool, or with a PMU machine.
Microshading lasts a bit longer than microblading. Microblading lasts about 18 months on average, while microshading usually lasts about 2 years. The reason is that the delicate hair strokes fade faster than the shadow.
Microblading is suitable for dry to normal skin. It’s not really suitable for oily skin with large pores. It can be done, but the strokes tend to blur together due. They also fade faster due to sebum overproduction, which pushes them out of the skin.
Microshading is suitable for all skin types. The shade is more resilient to sebum overproduction, and in case strokes are added too, the blurring isn’t so visible because the shade camouflages it.
Can Microblading and Microshading Be Combined?
Yes, and they very often are.
In fact, shading is rarely done on its own. The result of combining shading with hair strokes is called hybrid brows, or combo brows. The result is the look of naturally fuller brows to which a bit of makeup was added.
It’s a good option for clients who are set on getting hair strokes, but their skin is on the oilier side.
Image source: Instagram @microlashes.acbmx
Microshading vs Microblading Pain Levels
Both treatments entail some discomfort, since the skin is broken over and over again. However, neither should be exactly painful, since both treatments are done with a topical anesthetic that numbs the area.
The level of discomfort between microblading vs microshading varies from client to client. Those who’ve had both give mixed opinions. Some say blading is more uncomfortable, some say it’s shading.
Either way, you can expect some pressure, pitching, stinging, but not actual pain.
Microshading vs Microblading Safety
Both microblading and microshading are considered quite safe and non-invasive, since they only reach the connection between the surface layer of the skin and the second layer.
That said, since the surface of the skin is broken, there’s a risk of infection. If the treatment isn’t performed in sterile conditions with sterile equipment, or if you don’t follow aftercare instructions and the wound gets contaminated before it heals, you could develop an infection.
Most cases of infection are mild, but if you notice anything strange during your healing, contact your artist or a dermatologist. If left untreated, the infection could reach your sinuses and cause serious illness.
Another potential risk is permanent scarring. If the treatments are performed properly, the skin could get permanently damaged. The risk of scarring is greater with microblading vs microshading, or to be more precise, when doing hair strokes. Machine work is considered gentler on the skin, while dragging the blade through it causes more trauma.
Finally, there’s an equal risk of an allergic reaction for both microblading vs microshading. It’s possible to be allergic to the pigments or other products used during the treatment, but a quick patch test before the treatment eliminates this risk.
What Is the Difference Between Microblading and Microshading Aftercare?
Aftercare is the same for both treatments.
In the first 14 days after the treatment, you need to clean your brows and moisturize them with a prescribed ointment. You shouldn’t wear makeup in the treated area, and you shouldn’t let any unprescribed products come into contact with your brows.
You mustn’t touch the area or pick at the scabs at any stage of the healing process, or might pull out the pigments and ruin the results.
Once peeling ends, you can go back to your normal routine, but you may want to avoid certain skincare ingredients that accelerate pigment fading.
Image source: Instagram @fayebelline_beauty
Microblading vs Microshading Maintenance
After the initial session, both microblading and microshading require a 6-8 week touch up to perfect the results. After that, you’ll have the brows of your dreams for months.
Both treatments will eventually fade, but shading generally fades slower. You can get a color-boosting touch up whenever you feel like your brows have faded too much regardless of the treatment.
You can slow down the fading process for both microblading vs microshading if you:
- Book touch up appointments every once in a while (annually should be enough)
- Follow your aftercare routine as closely as possible (this allows the pigments to settle properly)
- Avoid sunlight exposure
- Avoid excessive sweating too often
- Avoid swimming in the ocean or the pool too often
NOTE: If your skin is oily or has large pores, you’ll probably need more frequent touch ups no matter what you do.
Microblading vs Microshading Cost
PMUHub’s market research has shown that there is no significant difference between microblading and microshading prices. Both treatment cost around $600 on average.
The prices vary significantly from artist to artist, mostly depending on location and their experience.
That said, if one artist offers both treatments, microshading will probably be a bit more expensive if it entails adding strokes, as they’re virtually doing 2 procedures.
Which Is Better – Microblading vs Microshading?
We can give you a straightforward answer, but we can help you make the decision.
Consider the following when deciding between microblading vs microshading: your skin type, your overall style, how much makeup you wear on a daily basis, and which look you prefer.
- Microblading will look better and last longer on dry to normal skin than on oily skin.
- Also, if you have sensitive skin, microshading is a better option, since shading is gentler on the skin than drawing hair strokes.
- Microshading is better for clients who have very sparse brows, while microblading is more suitable for people who already have brows but want to fill in sparse areas.
- If you want a more natural look, go for microblading. If you want a light makeup look, go for microshading.
Which Treatment Is Better for Covering Faded Tattooed Brows?
If you got an old eyebrow tattoo done with permanent ink or you had permanent makeup which hasn’t faded completely and want to cover it up, microshading is often the only option.
If you get hairstrokes drawn over the residues, they’ll look blurry and messy. Microshading creates a shade that camouflages the residue nicely.
However, whether you can get either depends on how dark the old tattoo is. The skin can only take so much pigment, and if the old tattoo is over-saturated, you’ll probably need to get it lightened or removed first.
Microblading vs Microshading – Main Takeaways
Both microblading and microshading will save you from having to draw on your brows every day for up to 2 years, but deciding between the 2 treatments should be a carefully thought-out decision.
Microblading is more suitable for dry to normal skin, it’s done manually, and it gives the look of naturally thicker brows. Microshading is suitable for all skin types, it can be done manually or with a machine, it can include hairstrokes if you want, and it gives the brows a light makeup look.
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