Microshading is a semipermanent cosmetic tattoo procedure used to give the appearance of fuller eyebrows.

If you don’t have full eyebrows, you might fill your eyebrows with a brow pencil or use powder to achieve a thicker, natural look.

These aren’t the only solutions for fuller brows, though. There’s also microshading, a semipermanent cosmetic procedure.

How does this technique work? Here’s what you need to know about microshading, including how the procedure works and how much it costs.

Cosmetic technician applying microshading to masked patient in chair.Share on Pinterest
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Microshading is a procedure where a cosmetic technician applies semipermanent makeup to your eyebrows.

It’s a type of cosmetic tattoo procedure. Using pigment ink and a handheld tool, the technician places tiny, pin-like dots over the brow area to fill in thin spots.

This technique adds shape to your brow and uses a powdered effect to add fullness. The result is a filled-out brow.

Microshading is sometimes confused with microblading. But although both procedures can make your eyebrows appear fuller, they’re different procedures.

  • Microshading uses pin-like dots of pigmentation to achieve a powdered eyebrow look.
  • Microblading uses a bladed needle to apply pigmentation underneath the skin. The technician fills your brows by making hair-like strokes that look like natural eyebrow hair.

Pros of microshading

  • resembles eyebrow powder
  • creates thicker, fuller eyebrows
  • ideal for sensitive or oily skin

Cons of microshading

  • semipermanent, requiring touchups
  • not covered under insurance
  • causes mild pain and discomfort
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Pros of microblading

  • hair-like strokes looks like real hair
  • fills and changes the shape of your brows
  • ideal for dry skin
  • lighter finish

Cons of microblading

  • semipermanent, requiring touchups
  • not covered under insurance
  • causes mild pain and discomfort
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Microshading is a two-session procedure. Some makeup technicians combine the initial consultation with the first session.

To prepare for a microshading procedure, you should avoid the following:

  • alcohol, caffeine, ibuprofen, and fish oil 24 hours before the procedure to prevent bruising and bleeding
  • waxing or plucking eyebrows 1 week before the procedure
  • facials at least 2 weeks before treatment
  • sunbathing and tanning beds on the day of the procedure
  • retinol or vitamin A products 1 month before the procedure

The initial session

Your makeup technician begins the session by measuring your face and deciding the ideal brow shape. Feel free to bring in photos of a desired look.

Once you agree on a shape, your technician will:

  • draw out the shape on both eyebrows
  • remove excess hair
  • determine the right pigment color for your brows

The first session is the longest and takes about 2 hours.

After the procedure, your eyebrows will appear darker for up to 5 days. The brow color will gradually lighten as your eyebrows heal.

They’ll match the color of your natural brow after about 4 weeks.

The second session

You’ll return for your second session about 8 weeks later. This is the perfecting session.

At this appointment, your makeup technician “perfects” the design by increasing the thickness and tweaking brow shape, if necessary.

The second session is shorter and takes about 1 hour.

Post-session eyebrow care

Here are some post-session tips for your eyebrows:

  • For the first week after treatment, gently clean your eyebrows daily with a damp cloth. Allow your brows to air dry, and then apply the moisturizing cream supplied by your makeup technician.
  • Don’t sleep on your face for the first few days after the procedure.
  • Avoid eye makeup, exercising, saunas, and baths for the first week to keep your eyebrows dry.
  • Limit sun exposure.
  • Don’t scratch or pick at your eyebrows.

Results vary from person to person. Microshading can last up to 1 to 3 years, although you’ll need a touch-up or maintenance session every 6 to 8 months.

You can expect some discomfort — more than tweezing or waxing, but less than a tattoo. Your makeup technician will apply a numbing cream over your eyebrows before starting the procedure.

Your brows will be sore once the numbing cream wears off. You can take a pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to stop inflammation.

Microshading is generally safe, but complications can occur.

This procedure implants ink on the upper dermal layer of skin. There’s the risk of injury if the needle goes beyond this layer of skin.

You may also have some skin irritation symptoms after the procedure, such as:

  • itchiness
  • swelling
  • redness

There’s also the risk of a reaction to the numbing cream or tattoo ink, and the risk of infection from blood-borne pathogens.

See a doctor if you develop signs of a skin infection, which include:

  • increased pain
  • swelling
  • blistering

Microshading isn’t covered by insurance, so you’ll pay for the procedure out of pocket.

The cost varies widely depending on location, but it ranges from $750 to $2,000 for both sessions.

Since this is a minimally invasive procedure, choose a reputable cosmetic technician who takes steps to reduce the spread of blood-borne pathogens.

Get recommendations from friends and family, and read reviews on credible websites. Also, ask to see a portfolio of the technician’s work.

Don’t hesitate to ask about their experience and training. Make sure the technician is licensed to perform makeup procedures.

Microshading is an excellent way to create thicker, fuller brows, especially if you’re looking for a powder effect. However, the procedure isn’t without some risks.

It’s important to understand how the procedure works and what you can expect from the results.

Be sure to use a cosmetic technician with lots of experience and training.