Microblading is a cosmetic procedure that inserts pigment under your skin using a needle to give you well-defined, natural looking eyebrows.

Generally, results can last from 18 to 30 months depending on your skin type, lifestyle, and how often you get touch-ups.

Want to know how long to expect your individual procedure results to last? Read on to get the details.

As mentioned above, microblading can last anywhere from 18 to 30 months. In general, it requires touch-ups once or twice a year.

Once pigment from the procedure begins to noticeably fade, you’ll need to go back to your practitioner for a touch-up application.

Microblading touch-ups are similar to getting root touch-ups for your hair. If you go when your microblading first starts fading, you can simply have the color filled in.

If you wait longer than your practitioner recommends, you may have to have the whole microblading procedure done over again on both of your eyebrows. This is time-intensive and much more expensive than a touch-up application.

How do you know whether you’ll need touch-ups sooner or later? It depends on your skin type.

Microblading results by skin type

High amounts of sebum, or oil, being secreted from your skin can make it more difficult for pigment to adhere to your skin.

This means that oily or combination skin types may need touch-ups more frequently than normal or dry skin types.

Speak with your aesthetician about any concerns you have about your skin type and how long you can expect your results to last.

Microblading is not a low cost procedure. Here are some important things to consider:

  • costs vary greatly, from about $250 to $1,000
  • touch-ups cost less than the full procedure
  • insurance likely won’t cover it, but discounts may be available through the salon

The cost of microblading will vary depending on the cost of living in your area and the level of experience of your aesthetician.

Touch-ups tend to cost a little over half the cost of the original procedure. For example, touching up a $500 treatment would typically cost around $300.

Microblading isn’t typically covered by health insurance, though there are medical conditions, medications, and treatments that can cause your eyebrow hair to fall out. You may also be able to use your HSA (health savings account) to cover your microblading treatment.

Since microblading can be expensive, ask your practitioner if you may be eligible for discounts. Volunteering to be included as a subject in your aesthetician’s portfolio is one option that might bring down the cost.

The microblading process starts even before you book an appointment. Here are some key facts to understand:

  • Steer clear of Botox 2 to 3 weeks before microblading.
  • Speak with your doctor about medication and risk factors, like cold sores.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine the day before your appointment.

Kechia Taylor, the co-founder of the Black Micropigmentation Association, recommends vetting potential practitioners before booking an appointment. Here are some of her suggestions:

  • Read reviews on the practitioner and place of business.
  • Ask for before/after pictures that show healed results.
  • Ensure the procedure will be performed in a sterile setting.
  • Ensure your practitioner is experienced and certified.

Erum N. Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD, a Philadelphia-based board certified dermatologist and the CEO and founder of AmberNoon, says you can help ensure best results with a few steps.

Before the procedure, she suggests avoiding:

  • Botox and any other neurotoxin for 2 to 3 weeks
  • waxing, plucking, threading, or shaving brows for a few days
  • retinol or prescription retinoids for 7 days
  • AHA and BHA creams for 7 days
  • chemical peels for 30 to 60 days, depending on the nature of the peel
  • any other exfoliating products for 2 to 7 days
  • blood thinners for 2 to 7 days
  • aspirin for 2 to 7 days
  • ibuprofen for 2 to 7 days
  • fish oil for 2 to 7 days
  • Vitamin E for 2 to 7 days
  • alcohol and caffeine for 24 hours

Ilyas suggests speaking with a physician before stopping any supplements, medications, or prescription skin care products. She adds that people can pre-emptively reduce their risks for side effects by:

  • reviewing risks of scarring and keloids
  • discussing their history of fever blisters or cold sores with a physician before making an appointment

“If you have a history of fever blisters or cold sores, it may be important to consider pre-medicating under the supervision of your doctor,” she says.

Be sure to share your history of sun exposure, any previous use of isotretinoin or Accutane, dye allergies, as well as medications or herbal supplements with your practitioner.

Medications that can thin the blood, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and some herbal supplements, may cause bleeding that prevents the procedure from working.

Knowing what to expect on the day of your appointment can ease nerves. Here are some basics:

  • Discuss preferences, including style, with a practitioner before the procedure.
  • Cleaning and topical anesthetics help reduce discomfort during and after the procedure.
  • Light bleeding is common.
  • The process can take up to 2 hours, including consultations.

Taylor says practitioners will often speak with patients for 30 to 45 minutes before the first procedure.

“This time will be spent going over health and consent forms, your likes and dislikes, and brow styles suitable for your facial structure,” she says.

After that, the practitioner will perform the microblading procedure:

  1. First, they’ll apply a topical or injected anesthetic.
  2. Then, they’ll clean the area using alcohol.
  3. They’ll place a microblading tip in the microblading handle (similar to a scalpel).
  4. Next, they’ll dip the blade in ink and place the pigment in different directions, wiping away any excess pigment with saline.
  5. They’ll finish by applying antibiotic ointment.

Ilyas says the procedure itself takes 30 minutes, but the process can take up to 2 hours because of initial consultations and the need to wait for the anesthetic to take effect. The latter can take up to 20 minutes, she says.

With injected anesthetic, she notes there’s an increased risk of swelling.

Ilyas also warns there may be some light bleeding or oozing as the pigment is placed.

This “is to be expected given that the pigment is placed in superficial layers of the dermis,” she says.

What you do after your microblading treatment can affect how long it lasts and its side effects. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Avoid touching the area for at least 48 hours post-procedure.
  • Avoid heavy workouts and contact with water for at least 48 hours. After that, use water only when cleansing, and gently pat the face dry. Avoid cleansers for at least a week.
  • Wait at least a week to resume your normal skin care routine, including exfoliants, creams, astringents, and makeup.
  • Avoid swimming, saunas, and steam rooms for at least 2 weeks.
  • Don’t wash or thread your eyebrows for at least 6 weeks.

Taylor suggests avoiding particular treatments for about 3 weeks, including:

  • Botox
  • chemical treatments
  • facials

“We recommend a dry heal, because one can have allergic reactions to antibiotic ointments and or creams,” Taylor says.

Ilyas adds that people should not resume their normal skin care routine for at least a week.

“Only wash with water and pat dry while taking care to avoid picking at any scabbing or crusting that has occurred,” she says. “Do not swim or use a sauna for 2 weeks, and do not wax, pluck or thread your eyebrows for 6 weeks after your treatment.”

Ilyas advises people to use wide sunglasses and sunscreens to keep the pigment from fading too quickly.

Microblading doesn’t end when you leave the practitioner’s office. There’s a healing process involved. Here’s what to understand:

  • It can take up to 2 weeks for the microblading process to be complete.
  • Your skin will be sensitive during this time. Avoid touching it.
  • Scabbing and itching is common, but don’t pick at the scabs. This helps prevent infection.
  • Avoid wetting your brows in any way.
  • Avoid LED light exposure or radiofrequency.

Microblading takes 10 to 14 days to heal as the pigment settles into its shape. During this process, your skin will be sensitive. The skin on your eyebrows will eventually scab and flake off. The area will be red and tender to the touch at first.

While your new brow shape is healing, don’t pick or scratch the area. This introduces germs that could become trapped under your skin and cause an infection. Picking at flakes may also cause the color of your brows to fade more quickly.

During this healing period, you should avoid wetting your brows. This includes excessive sweating from working out and getting them wet in the shower or pool.

Avoid resurfacing lasers and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment. These will target and fade the pigment.

Microblading is a common procedure, but it’s not without its share of risks. Keep these in mind:

  • You may experience discomfort during the procedure.
  • The microbladed area can become infected if it’s not kept clean and dry.
  • Color may bleed, spread, or change due to sun exposure or exfoliation.
  • Your skin may form granulation tissue, a raised scar-like reaction that typically occurs due to an ink allergy.
  • Your brows may have asymmetry or an unnatural shape.
  • Your brow color and shape will last for 18 months or more.

Once the procedure is complete, your eyebrows will have the same color and shape until the color fades — which can take 18 months or more.

Have an in-depth consultation with your practitioner that includes reviewing their portfolio and having them sketch a trial shape onto your face, so you can preview the finished product.

Microblading is somewhat uncomfortable and can be painful despite the use of a topical anesthetic. When it’s finished, you’ll have what are basically small cuts on your face that are no wider than a thread.

These cuts can become infected if you don’t keep the area clean and dry.

Infection from microblading, in rare cases, can lead to sepsis and other side effects.

Before trying microblading, you may want to look into other options. Microblading isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t the only way to get fuller-looking brows.

If you like the look of a fuller brow but aren’t sure that microblading is for you, there are several other options you might consider, including:

  • eyebrow pencil or eyebrow mascara as part of your routine
  • henna tattoo applied by a professional henna artist
  • permanent makeup drawn in at a licensed tattoo parlor

There’s no definite answer to how long the results of microblading will last for you. Speak with a licensed aesthetician about any concerns you have and how often you’ll need touch-ups.

When considering a procedure like microblading, it’s essential to do your research and find a practitioner who’s licensed, well-reviewed, and trustworthy.

Kathryn Watson is a freelance writer based in New York City. She covers culture, the arts, and literature in addition to writing about health and wellness. More writing can be found on her website, https://www.kathrynswatson.com/.