The never-ending PMU discussion – what is the best aftercare for microblading and other brow tattoos? This is a complex topic that always sparks a debate, and you can be sure Vaseline will be mentioned.
Vaseline is perhaps the most famous, most versatile cosmetic product. It’s something you’ll find in most people’s bathroom cabinets, and for a long time, it used to be the go-to for PMU aftercare.
But lately, that’s changed. Let’s chat about whether, for microblading aftercare vaseline is a good option or not.
Vaseline for Microblading Aftercare
Whether clients should use Vaseline on microbladed eyebrows is a hot topic that always triggers intense reactions. Artists either swear by it, or speak adamantly against it. It’s a touchy subject and that’s exactly why we need to talk about it!
In the wake of the PMU industry, Vaseline used to be more or less universally accepted as a good option for wet healing. It was prescribed often, being a widely-available, affordable option familiar to the clients.
But as the industry grew and the community started to study different aspects of the treatment in more detail, more and more artists abolished Vaseline from their aftercare routine and started speaking out against it.
Nevertheless, a number of artists kept using it, and still do. What’s more, trainers instruct their students to use it, claiming there’s no reason not to, or being oblivious to the debate to begin with.
As a result, there are many conflicting opinions and arguments can be made both in favor and against putting Vaseline on microbladed eyebrows. So beginners get confused, and justifiable so.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-word, definite answer, so we’ll have to look at the arguments on both sides.
Image source: Freepik
What’s Problematic About Using Vaseline for Microblading Eyebrows?
Let’s break it down into specific issues putting Vaseline on eyebrows after microblading might bring about:
Vaseline Is Highly Occlusive, So It Doesn’t Allow the Skin to Breathe
Vaseline is really thick, and it’s arguably the most occlusive ingredient in skincare. This means it creates a very thick film when distributed onto the skin that acts as a resilient barrier not even air can penetrate.
This, many artists claim, is a huge issue in using Vaseline after microblading. Microblading leaves a number of tiny incisions on the skin which are essentially wounds, and as such need oxygen in order to heal properly.
In fact, the state of wound oxygenation is a key determinant of healing outcomes.1
Without oxygen, the skin can’t perform the processes that ensure new, healthy skin closes up the wound. The skin’s defense against bacteria is diminished, so the chance of developing a microblading infection is higher.
Not only is this a health hazard, as more severe cases can compromise the immune system as a whole, but infections can ultimately damage the quality of healed results.
And It Causes Sweating Underneath
Being so occlusive, the Vaseline barrier can lead to a sweating effect. The raised temperature underneath the barrier causes the skin to sweat, and the film prevents the sweat from evaporating.
So it just sits on the skin, providing the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This means higher chances of infection.
But this isn’t the only issue. Sweat travels through pores to eventually break out on top of the skin, and since the skin cells that form the pores are now pigmented, this can lead to pigment extraction.
Sweat is not water – it contains high amounts of sodium, which might cause small amounts of pigment to move up and be extracted. There’s a reason clients are advised against activities that cause sweating during microblading healing!
Okay, it’s not like such a small amount of sweat will annul the results of microblading. But since retention is never 100% to begin with, it’s best to avoid everything that might affect it even a little bit.
It’s Thick, So It’s Hard to Clean Off
If you’ve ever used Vaseline for anything, you know it’s not so easy to clean off. Due to its thick consistency, it takes some rubbing to remove it, even with a gentle cleanser, and rubbing freshly done PMU is something that has to be kept at a minimum.
Any mechanical pressure can exfoliate the skin, rip off the scabs and remove pigmented cells.
While freshly microbladed brows definitely need to be cleaned, this should be done with motions as gentle as possible. Therefore, the best aftercare ointment is something that’s easy to remove, and Vaseline is not it.
Especially in the case of the Blue Seal formula, which is slightly thicker than the original.
And if the moisturizer isn’t removed thoroughly upon each cleaning but rather just piled up, layer upon layer, this will cause thick scabs to form, which will take away more pigment, plus provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Image source: Freepik
Although Rare, Allergies to Petrolatum Can Happen
The original Vaseline Healing Jelly is basically white petrolatum, a purified, decolorized semisolid mixture obtained from petroleum. It’s fragrance-free, and generally considered hypoallergenic.
However, cases of allergies have been recorded.2
That said, ointments with more complex formulas are much more likely to cause allergies.
Positive Effects of Eyebrow Tattoo Aftercare with Vaseline
Artists who argue in favor of using Vaseline on microblading don’t go into theory too much. They provide something just as useful – practice.
Apparently, there are many artists out there who have been prescribing Vaseline for microblading aftercare for years and never encountered any issues.
Some of the arguments claim that:
- Vaseline prevents scabbing to a large extent
- It ensures good retention
- It works just fine
And while all the above-mentioned risks of prescribing Vaseline definitely are real, experience shows that in many cases, everything turns out just fine.
But here’s the thing – there’s a right way and a wrong way to apply Vaseline for microblading aftercare.
The Proper Way to Use Vaseline After Microblading
If Vaseline is the chosen aftercare ointment, clients have to be instructed to:
- use a very, very small amount,
- and clean the previous layer from their brows thoroughly before applying a fresh one.
A rice-grain amount is enough for both brows.
While artists are bound to walk each client through the aftercare routine and explain to them in detail what they’re supposed to do, not all clients follow the instructions closely enough.
One thing they tend to do is use too much ointment, which can cause thick scabbing, which can result in complications.
They sometimes feel that their brows need more moisturizer than prescribed, which is not the case, so they either use too much, or reapply too frequently.
Due to the thick consistency of Vaseline, this is more of an issue than with lighter moisturizers.
For artists who do decide to use Vaseline on microbladed eyebrows, they have to be very clear about the proper amount.
Image source: Freepik
Alternative Aftercare Options
For all the reasons we’ve listed above, for eyebrow tattoo aftercare Vaseline seems to be more hassle than it’s worth.
There are so many alternatives with high-quality ingredients available nowadays formulated specially for PMU aftercare, there’s really no need to risk it.
Okay, if you prescribe Vaseline, your client will probably have it already and you won’t need to provide an aftercare cream as part of the aftercare kit. But that’s about the only benefit.
There’s a wide range of lotions artists can test out and find one that gives the best results in their book. Let’s discuss some petroleum-based options, and non-petroleum ones.
As we’ve said, Vaseline is basically straight-up white petrolatum. This ingredient provides amazing moisturization, but the thickness of the pure formula is a problem.
The solution – go for a formula that contains a bit of white petrolatum, but also other ingredients.
This way, the white petrolatum is diluted. It gives all the benefits, but without the issues. The formulas are much lighter, not so thick so the skin gets to breathe, and other beneficial ingredients are also included.
A favorite of many artists is A&d Ointment, a formula that does contain white petrolatum, but also other ingredients which make it more creamy and lighter. Phi Skin Candy is another good option.
Obviously, petrolatum is not the only moisturizing ingredient out there. There are many other efficient ingredients that can be used for microblading aftercare, like natural oils and oil blends with natural extracts.
Hustle Butter is a product formulated for the tattoo industry in particular, to give all the benefits of petrolatum-based moisturizers without actually containing this ingredient, so it’s a great choice.
The Zensa Healing Cream is always a good option for healing any type of skin injury, including the results of microblading and PMU.
So, What’s the Verdict?
Well, as with all permanent makeup products, it’s up to the artist to decide what they’re going to use. If you’ve been working with Vaseline as your go-to aftercare product for a long time and have never encountered any issues, you’re probably going to stick with it.
But since the PMU industry has come such a long way and since there are now so many affordable and widely available alternatives, perhaps it’s safer to just switch to something more convenient.