Before my first appointment to get permanent makeup (PMU), part of me could hardly wait for all the benefits that led me to sign up for the procedure. But another part of me was freaking out. What I’m having done to me is called permanent makeup for a reason, I thought. What if I don’t like it? Does permanent makeup fade completely?
It also crossed my mind, What if I’m ecstatic over my microbladed brows? Will they really last? For how long? Can microblading be permanent? How will my eyebrows look while they’re fading out? Will the results last long enough to justify the expense and discomfort?
Even though I’d done a fair amount of research on microblading, I still had plenty of questions, anxiety, and doubt. But hope for a solution to my sparse and patchy brows overcame my fear and I made it to my appointment.
What I Learned During My Consultation
Before the actual procedure, my technician explained that I’d have a follow-up appointment in about 4 to 6 weeks at which I’d probably receive a touch-up. She said the reason for this 4- to 6-week checkup was that it’s hard to know exactly how each individual’s microblading results will turn out because everyone is different. So, she always uses a conservative approach the first time around and adds more pigment if needed, once a client’s initial results have healed and stabilized.
She also told me the microblade work would last for up to two or three years and fade away gradually unless I refreshed it with regular touch-ups about once a year. I remember asking if the pigment blurred or just disappeared, and she said the fading process was more like disappearing.
Does Microblading Really Last?
As I was having my procedure, my technician chatted with me, bringing my anxiety down a notch and sharing lots of facts about microblading and permanent makeup in general. Her information matched my experience and the further research I’ve continued since my first appointment.
In turns out that these procedures aren’t meant to last indefinitely. That’s considered a good thing because styles change, personal tastes change, our faces change, and sometimes results aren’t what someone had in mind.
Microblading uses a hand tool and tends not to last as long as other PMU techniques that use a machine tool to apply pigment. This difference is because less pigment is implanted in the skin during microblading compared with the machine methods that produce a solid line or bar of color.
Everyone’s skin is different because of their genetic background, gender, and age, to name just a few factors. Individual results vary, but microblading tends to last for six months up to a few years before touch-ups are necessary to maintain the look.
Because of these individual differences and the fact that skin is a living organ affected by health and lifestyle, it’s impossible to say with any reliability how much your microblading will fade or how long the process will take. As such, it’s best to carefully consider microblading as a permanent commitment, even though your results will probably differ.
When you get a PMU procedure (which is really a type of tattoo), pigment is implanted into the uppermost layer of the dermis. Our immune system interprets the scratch of microblade needles as an attack and the pigments as invaders (like bacteria) and sends different kinds of defensive cells to protect us from the invaders. Some of our defensive cells, macrophages, encircle individual pigment particles to wall them off from the rest of our body. The macrophages form scar tissue around the pigment, anchoring it into place and making it a “permanent” part of our dermis.
Even though pigments will fade over time and sometimes cease to be visible, the cellular changes (the “walling off”) in your skin will still exist. That’s what makes permanent makeup truly permanent.
Factors that affect longevity of the pigments include:
- Color of ink (darker pigments last longer)
- Oiliness of the skin (color doesn’t last as long on oily skin)
- Care during healing (picking any scabs, sweating heavily, sunbathing, and swimming in chlorinated or salt water during healing can accelerate fading)
- Maintenance (it helps to avoid harsh cleansers and alpha (AHA) and beta (BHA) hydroxy acids, common ingredients in anti-aging products)
- Sun exposure (the sun accelerates fading)
- Medications (some meds including blood pressure and thyroid prescriptions can cause slight changes in color; disclose all medications and supplements to your technician before your procedure)
Other factors are the unique biology and chemistry of your skin and the individual technique of the person who gives you the microblading service.
My Personal Experience
After my initial microblading session, my brows looked dark and heavy from the excess pigment temporarily trapped in and on my epidermis. This stage passed in less than a week, and my beautiful new brows then appeared. I was thrilled with the results and the confidence I gained.
I got a small touch-up at the 6-week mark but overall, my technician was pleased with how well my skin accepted the pigment.
My brows looked perfect, day-in and day-out, for about six months, when I began to notice fading. They continued to look much better than they had before the microblading, but the individual strokes were blurring out (losing their definition) and starting to look more like a light application of conventional eyebrow pencil or powder.
I was worried that as my brows faded, they might take on a bluish or greenish tone. (This sometimes happened in the early days of cosmetic tattooing way back in the 1980s and 1990s, and I couldn’t unsee photos of what happened to some unsuspecting folks back then.)
In my case, as in the case of almost everyone these days, the color itself did not change as time went on. It simply faded.
I waited for another few months before going in for a touch-up, bringing the total interval between the initial procedure and the first major touch up to about 10 months. The touch-up was quicker, less expensive, and less anxiety-inducing than the first application. (Because I’d already had the first microblading session, I felt like a pro now!)
Despite some fading, my overall eyebrow design was still apparent, so my technician’s job was mainly to add crisp new hair strokes and to refresh to overall shape.
Since my most recent touch-up, my microbladed brows have gradually faded again, simply getting less noticeable over time. Again, the fading became noticeable at about 6 months post-procedure. I have oily skin, so my microbladed hair strokes do lose some of their definition.
But unlike the unflattering effects of an aging tattoo, the effect of my fading microbladed brow strokes doesn’t read as a blur. Instead, it gives my brows a subtle shadowy look.
My brows now look as if I’m wearing just a hint of makeup, if any. And, if I want to further enhance my brows with a pencil, I still have a visible microbladed shape that I simply have to fill in.
I’m currently trying to decide what to do next with my brows to camouflage the sparse areas. Should I get another microblading touch-up? Or should I go for a powdery PMU look since my oily skin isn’t ideal for microblading?
I’m not sure what I’ll do next, but I do know I’m glad I have the option to go in a different direction if I want to. Despite its name, permanent makeup isn’t what we usually consider to be “permanent.” But its benefits are long-lasting, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy it!
What Do You Think?
I’ve tried to answer some common questions: Does microblading last forever? Will microblading ever completely fade? Why does microblading fade?
If I haven’t explained fully or if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the Comments section below. I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Or maybe you’ve had microblading and your experience was different from mine. It would be great if you’d share it here for another perspective.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re a little bit closer to having the eyebrows of your dreams.