Powder Brows: The Ultimate Guide

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on April 11, 2024

PMUHub has prepared a detailed guide through the powder brows treatment. Find out everything you need to know about the procedure, effects, and suitability in 2024.

powder brows cover

Work by Harmony PMU Academy, Toronto

Powder brows are a permanent makeup procedure that creates a soft, powdered effect on the eyebrows. The artist uses a permanent makeup machine to fill in the brow shape with tiny pixels of pigment, targeting only the top layer of the skin.

The treatment is suitable for all skin types and it provides natural-looking and long-wearing results with vibrant color and defined contour. 

Here’s everything you need to know before the treatment, plus thoughts from Nev, a powder brows client.

powder brows modelWork by Almita Beauty, Belgrade

Want to Get Powder Brows?

Browse our base of salons & find an artist for your treatment! 

Procedure Quick Facts

  • HOW IT’S DONE: With a cosmetic tattoo machine and fine needles, using tiny pixels of pigment to fill in the natural brows.
  • HOW LONG IT TAKES: Around 2 hours, depending on how experienced the artist is.
  • THE PAIN: The brow area is numbed with a topical anesthetic/numbing cream, so it’s totally bearable.
  • THE DOWNTIME: No recovery time, but some redness & irritation are expected for a few days post-procedure.
  • THE EFFECT: A subtle, perfectlyfilled-in-with-your-fave-brow-pencil look.
  • THE HEALING: 30-50% lighter color in about 10 days. True color in 4-6 weeks.
  • THE FADING: Gradual, but can be accelerated by the sun, exfoliation & skin conditions.
  • THE LONGEVITY: 1 to 3 years, depending on your skin type and aftercare.
  • THE CORRECTION: Color/shape PMU correction, or glycollic acid/saline/laser removal. 
  • COST: Around $650, depending on the artist’s experience and your location.
  • MORE FAQ: Click here for answers to more questions about powder brows!

Click on the topics for more info, or scroll down for the whole guide.

All About the Procedure

Powder brows (aka powder brow tattoo or shaded brows) is a permanent makeup procedure in which the artist inserts PMU pigments into the top layer of the skin with a tattoo machine, using the dotting/pixelization technique (more about that in a minute).

It’s a two-step process that consists of the initial session, which takes around 2 hours, and the touch-up, which is done 6–8 weeks after the initial procedure.

Ready to Get a Pair of Perfect Powder Brows?

Browse our base of salons & find an artist for your treatment! 

The Tools

The powder brows method uses a handheld permanent makeup machine to gently implant the pigment into the skin with specialized, fine needles.

This approach is generally considered less invasive and it suits all skin types. Here, you can get a close-up look at the tools and how they interact with the skin:

@facebrowbar POWDER BROWS BY JIEN 💚 Rather than using a handheld tool to create hair strokes. Powder brows is a cosmetic semi permanent makeup technique designed to create eyebrows with a soft powder effect, very similar to powder makeup. The powder effect is done with a shading technique using a permanent makeup device. Please contact the salon for further info or bookings. Consultation is required for all clients before proceeding with a booking. #browbar #powderbrows #powderbrow #athlone #brows #face #hdbrows #browsculpt #lashlift #browstylist #westmeath ♬ Originalton – Finest Music ' Ds

The Technique

The technique simply consists of placing tiny dots or pixels in the desired eyebrow shape. The artist creates a natural shading also called the powder effect.

Making the pixel placement more or less saturated, the artist makes the eyebrow more or less powdery. The process is 100% personalized, and so are the results, which can be more soft and toned down, or more dramatic, bold, and defined.

Check out our powder brows before and after gallery to see the results from various artists and get inspired.

The Effect

Powder brows are the balayage of permanent makeup — a brow style that offers lightness with a softer, more blended appearance.

They are perfect for sparse brows because they create the desired fullness in a shape that best suits your facial features and brings out your natural beauty.

As a result, you get a shaded, shadowy effect that darkens, shapes, and defines your brows, sitting perfectly on your skin tone.

The results are customizable, and they can look as subtle or as dramatic as you want. Nev, for example, didn’t want to go too bold: I wanted medium arches – not too thick, something that would subtly complement my features.

Take a look at her arches:

after powder browsImage source: Instagram @tamara_crnovcic

NOTE

At first glance, powder brows look a lot like microshading. We’ve actually compared the two, so you can read all about Powder Brows vs Microshading in our detailed guide.

The results of the treatment are individual and determined by many different factors:

  • Skin type (if it’s oily, sun-damaged, particularly thick or thin)
  • Your skin’s unique pH balance
  • Medications
  • Alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Post-procedure aftercare.

The Procedure

Before the actual treatment, you will have a chat with your artist about your motivations, specific needs, and the look you’d like to achieve.

The artist should also perform a patch test, to make sure you’re not allergic to any of the products that will be used.

The creation of powder brows process usually lasts around 2 hours and has several steps that usually look like this:

STEP 1: You read and sign a consent form.

STEP 2: The artist prepares the brow area by cleaning the skin.

STEP 3: Measuring, mapping, and outlining.

STEP 4: Numbing with a topical anesthetic/cream (15-20 minutes). Some PMUAs skip this step.

STEP 5: Choosing the pigment according to your hair, skin color, and desired effect.

STEP 6: The needling process. Pixels are created with a cosmetic tattoo machine.

STEP 7: In case of any severe discomfort at this stage, secondary numbing is applied.

STEP 8: The pigment implementation. A final layer of pigment is added.

STEP 9: Cleaning.

STEP 10: Aftercare instructions.

The artist will take some photos to keep for reference, and you will make arrangements for the 6-8-week touch-up session.

Extra Tip

Communication is the key! Make sure to communicate your goals clearly, but do consider the expert suggestions. Also, it’s a good idea to have all your questions and concerns answered by the artist before the procedure starts.

powder brows on melanin rich skinWork by BEAUTEL, Dallas

The Touch Up

During the healing phase, you will lose a tiny patch of pigment, so you’ll need to come back for a touch-up. This appointment cannot happen earlier than 30 days after the original procedure.

Once there, you will be able to:

  • Fill in the missing parts
  • Add more color and make your brows bolder (if that’s your go-to aesthetics)
  • Switch to darker or warmer pigments
  • Correct the shape

Even if you’re completely satisfied with how your powder brows look, a touch-up is a must if you want your investment to last longer.

powder brows before & afterImage source: Instagram @michigan_permanentmakeup

Additional touch-ups are not obligatory. However, to maintain the perfect appearance, you should get one about once a year.

The Correction & Removal

If you’re not happy with the results and you want to get rid of your brow tattoo fast, there are ways to fix powder eyebrows.

If your powder brows have naturally faded less than 60-70%, removal is a must. This is a separate treatment and — as dermatologist Dr Farah Moustafa, MD, suggests in her study — it usually requires multiple sessions to get perfect results.

But, in this case, it’s better to start off with a clean slate, so here are the best options:

If your old work has already faded at least 70% or more, a brow tattoo color correction and shape correction is possible and advisable.

In that case, the artist can apply corrective pigments to fix your brow shape and color, and achieve a cleaner look, without blending with the leftovers of the previous tattoo color.

It’s also easier for the artist to predict how these corrective pigments will behave when mixed with the existing color, leading to more controlled and satisfying results.

powder brows correctionImage source: Instagram @timelessbeautyartistry___

The Pain Level

During the procedure, a topical numbing cream is typically applied to the eyebrow area to minimize the discomfort. This helps to dull the sensation of the needle breaking the skin, making the procedure totally bearable.
 

Here’s how Nev, a powder brows client, describes the feeling: 

The first pass was slightly uncomfortable, as it was done without anesthesia. It’s not the most pleasant sensation, but it’s nothing too bad – totally bearable. But after the first pass, the artist put some oily substance on my brows and they went totally numb. I couldn’t feel the rest of the treatment at all after that.

Want to learn more about Nev’s powder brows experience? Read the whole interview here.

Safety

Powder Brows are generally considered to be a safe,  non-invasive, and minimally painful treatment. 

However, the procedure still carries certain risks, as it involves needles breaking the skin to implement the pigment.

According to the study conducted by Dr Shoichi Tomita, MD, the most common complications include infections, dryness, and itching, while allergic reactions, granulomas, and sarcoidosis are extremely uncommon.

Even if your body responds badly to the treatment, the symptoms will improve quickly without any treatment and will not persist for long.

Contraindications

According to dermatologist Dr Nicolas Kluger, who studied the contraindications of skin tattooing, these are the conditions that make you unsuitable for powder eyebrows tattoo:

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Certain autoimmune diseases
  • Ongoing chemotherapy
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Active viral infections or diseases
  • Active skin irritations, Rosacea, or Psoriasis near the treated area
  • History of ­keloid scarring

Conditions to also consider:

  • Active use of Accutane (must be off for 6 months)
  • Recent Botox injections or fillers in the area (wait at least 2 weeks)

If you take blood-thinning medications, consult your doctor and see if you can pause the meds.

If you suffer from any medical condition not mentioned here, consult your GP and see if they consider powder brows safe for you.

Additionally, your artist may uncover more contraindications at the consults, or after inspecting your skin.

Healing

From Nev’s experience, the healing process wasn’t too bad and it wasn’t too annoying. I did get thin scabs, but they all came off at once, in bigger chunks, when I was cleaning my brows with a cotton round, around day 5. My brows would get itchy when I’d practice my aftercare routine – upon cleaning and applying my aftercare ointment.

Here are her brows on day 5:

powder brows healing day 5Image source: Courtesy of Nev, a powder brows client

For her, it was no big deal. However, certain clients go through healing easier than others.

There is no downtime, but you will most likely experience swelling and redness immediately after the procedure. This is only temporary and should  subside within 4 days after the procedure, but this is individual.

It’s also important to note that the result will look approximately 30%-50% darker than the desired effect, and it will take 10 days or more for it to lighten. The true colors will be visible only 1 month after the procedure.

In the healing phase, scabbing is the most annoying stage for most clients. However, you must avoid picking at the scabs at all costs, as this can cause unattractive patchiness.

You need to see each of the healing stages through and let the skin recover. Once you see your brows healed, you’ll forget all about the agony of aftercare.

To get a real picture of the powder brow healing process, visit our Powder brows healing day-by-day guide.

How Long Does it Take for Your Powder Brows to Heal?Image source: Instagram @shaydanielle.pmu

Extra Tip

The appearance of your brows will change throughout the healing phase, and in some of the healing stages, they may not look their best. To prepare for the healing process of powder brows, look up realistic healing pics that show exactly what you can expect as a client.

Fading

Although this treatment is also called the eyebrow powder tattoo, the results are created using PMU pigments, not the traditional tattoo ink, so they fade faster.

How long your powder brows will last depends on your skin properties, your habits, and your lifestyle.

The most important factor that causes your powdered brows to fade faster and thus shortens their lifespan is the sun. So, the best thing you can do is stay as far away as possible from tanning beds and sunbathing.

Exfoliating can also cause some of the color to come off or fade out. This means you should keep your hands off harsh exfoliators and skincare products with aggressive chemicals that damage the skin barrier and accelerate natural fading.

Other factors include oily skin and different medical conditions, such as:

And more.

If you notice your brows are fading, you can book a “color boost” touch-up appointment that will help you maintain the color.

Aftercare

If you want to make the most out of this procedure, here are some things you need to know about the powder brow aftercare process:

  • Apply an ointment or a moisturizer 3x a day with clean fingers or a cotton swab.
  • Never touch the treated area with dirty fingers to avoid the risk of bacterial infection.
  • Do not scratch, rub, pick, or peel the healing skin, to avoid damaging your skin.
  • Use a gentle cleanser. Rinse with lukewarm water and gently pat the area dry.
  • Until your brows fully heal, apply a coat of ointment on the area before a shower or bath.
  • Avoid any makeup, facials, sweating, sun exposure, sauna, jacuzzi, or swimming.
  • Avoid products with lactic/glycolic acid or retinol, as they will fade your eyebrow area.

To prevent future fading of your pigment color, use SPF 50 or higher after the procedure.

Extra Q&A

What Are Ombre Powder Brows?

Considering the overall aesthetics, these brows are very close to the original. The only difference is that the PMUA follows a particular saturation pattern.

The ombre effect means that the inner part of the brow is lighter and gradually gets darker further out towards the tail. This results in a more 3D look.

powder ombre browsImage source: Instagram @dolly_brow_studio

To find out more about powder ombre brows, visit our Powder Ombre page.

Microblading vs Powder Brows: What’s the Difference?

With both treatments, you get the surface layer of your skin tattooed, but the techniques used are different, and so are the end results.

Microblading creates individual strokes that resemble eyebrow hairs, while powder brows create a powder-filled brow effect.

What is the Difference Between Microblading and Powder Brows?Image source: Instagram @jessvuongartistry

Another factor to consider is their longevity — powder brows last a bit longer than microblading, which is typically around 18 months on average, without touch-ups.

The bottom line is that the choice between microblading vs powder brows boils down to your personal preference.

Discover all about the similarities and differences between microblading and powder brows on our Powder Brows vs. Microblading page.

Can Powder Brows Be Combined with Microblading?

Yes!

The effect that this combination creates is powder microblading, or combo brows – very fine hair strokes filled in with a smooth shading for enhanced brows. The best of both worlds!

Can Microblading be Combined With Powder Brows?Image source: Instagram @chynathi.browart

Interested to learn more about combo brows? Check out our Combo Brows Guide and our Combo Brows vs Microblading page.

How Much Do Powder Brows Cost?

The average powder brows price is around $650, depending on your location and your artist’s skills and experience.

Make sure to check the average price of the procedure in your area, and see what is included in the price. The first touch-up appointment is generally included in the price, but this has to be double-checked.

Visit our Powder Brows Cost page for more information on the price of powder brow treatment across the US.

Looking for a Reputable Salon to Get Your Powder Brows Done?

Browse our base of salons & find an artist for your treatment! 

WHY TRUST THIS GUIDE

This guide is a result of 5+ years of studying and researching the permanent makeup industry. The information comes from reliable sources: a number of powder brows technicians, and a wide variety of medical references, including an in-depth review of the scientific studies by Dr Farah Moustafa, Dr Shoichi Tomita, MD, and Dr Nicolas Kluger.

LEARN MORE ABOUT POWDER BROWS

SHARE

Exclusive insights into the PMU industry right in your inbox.

FREE newsletter. 100% good stuff.