Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

It’s Personal: I Got Microbladed

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to get my first tattoo and it wasn’t a typical sort of tattoo and I was a little nervous about it. I said that if it didn’t go well, I probably wouldn’t mention it again, and if it did go well, I would tell you about it. Well, I was pretty sure, in the first few days that I had the tattoo, that I wasn’t going to broadcast it to anyone. But I also didn’t know how I was going to hide it either. It’s been about nine days now and, happily, the tattoo is healing nicely, and I am much less freaked out about it. I’m even ready to share it with you…

I got my eyebrows tattooed! The technical term is “microbladed.” Microblading is kind of what it sounds like — a small blade is used to make tiny cuts along the eyebrow (or brow bone) in which pigment is deposited to create very natural, hair-like strokes that either fill out a natural brow or, in my case, recreate or reconstruct an eyebrow.


(19-year-old me, full eyebrows).

There are lots of reasons someone might want to fill-out or reconstruct his or her brows. For me, after having thick brows through my early 20s (see photo above), my brows became pretty thin through my late 30s, through a combination of aging, hypothyroidism, and various grooming techniques (like threading and waxing). Then, in the last couple of years, the already-thin brows I was sporting starting falling out completely. A few months ago, I was diagnosed with a rare kind of alopecia that affects eyebrows and the hairline (my hairline has receded about half an inch to an inch), and can affect eyelashes too (mine are still intact). This kind of alopecia can “burn out,” or reverse itself eventually, but there’s no guarantee that hair will grow back, and, of course, there’s no way of knowing when that might happen. In the meantime, I felt naked and weird-looking without eyebrows. I could draw them on with makeup every day, which I did, but I never felt very good at it, it took a lot of time, and it always faded after a few hours (or more quickly, depending on weather).


(My brows – or lack of brows — the morning of my microblading appointment, no makeup).

My dermatologist specializes in hair transplants and he talked to me about doing a brow transplant eventually, but that felt too… permanent. Plus, the hair on my head is a different color and texture than what my brow hair would/should/used to be. And it would grow like the hair on my head, and I’d have to trim it every two weeks. That felt too strange and sci-fi. Was I going to be an old lady in a nursing home, needing someone to trim my brows every two weeks? I mean, I’ll probably need someone to trim my chin hairs one day, but still: why make extra work for everyone? Or worse, what if I couldn’t trim them myself anymore and no one else trimmed them for me and I was just some sad old lady with eyebrows that grew all the way down her face? I couldn’t let that happen!

So, I researched every other option and discovered microblading, which sounded kind of perfect (other than it not being cheap). It looks pretty natural, and after the healing process there’s zero maintenance, and it fades in one to three years, so if you don’t like it or styles change and you want to update your look, you aren’t locked in. I thought about it for a couple of months, researched places throughout New York that provide the service, checked out countless before and after pictures, instagram shots, and Yelp reviews, and finally settled on a company and even a specific “eyebrow technician.”

The procedure itself takes two to three hours and includes a personal consultation. My consultation lasted almost an hour while Daniela, my eyebrow tech, discussed shape and size with me and then very carefully drew new brows on my face to show me exactly what they would look like. She took my input and made some tweaks, and after we agreed on everything, she numbed my brows and started blading. It hurt like a bitch! They say it doesn’t (like in reviews and testimonials and the countless blog posts I read about it), but mine hurt a lot. I mean, not as bad a childbirth or anything, and not as bad as a kidney stone, but maybe on the level of having tartar behind your gum scraped out. For two hours straight: not fun. And not pretty either. At least, the immediate results weren’t.


(Not pretty!).

After two hours of pain, I was given a hand mirror and it was all I could do not to burst into tears. I looked like such a freak! The brows were so much darker and bigger than we discussed. I was in such shock, really, that I didn’t even know what to say. So, I told Daniela she did a good job. Because, in an objective sense, it did seem expertly done (and I was still convinced that I had researched well and chosen one of the best, and I wasn’t yet willing to think otherwise). But the brows didn’t fit my face. They were so thick and big and dark. And I was used to having nothing, so to have such bold brows was a really big change. Daniela told me that over the next few days they would get even darker, but to not panic — it was all part of the healing process.


(WTF).

I did panic though! I got home and I cried and cried for like twenty-four hours. At one point, because it was so nice out and I felt bad being such a wet blanket when my family just wanted to enjoy the beautiful weekend, I put on some big sunglasses and we all went to the park and I crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t see anyone I knew. Of course, I didn’t get ten feet into the park before we saw some friends. One friend, Bill, said, “Ooh, I like your sunglasses,” as he REACHED FOR THEM TO PULL THEM OFF MY FACE!

“NOOOO!” I yelled and turned and ran away, pushing Joanie in the stroller.

“Where are you going?” everyone yelled.

“Taking Joanie to the playground!” I yelled back, without even turning around.

On the way to the playground, I ran into more people I knew, and I tried, probably unsuccessfully, to hide the top half of my face, contorting my whole body in weird poses to look casual but hidden as I stopped to say hi. I felt so exposed! It was so much worse than not having eyebrows at all, which was something I hated but eventually got used to. It felt like everyone — like everyone in the whole park, maybe in all of Brooklyn — was thinking the same thing: what the fuck did that woman do to her face?


(Joanie’s first response when she saw me was: “WASH!”)

“I’m never doing anything to my face ever again!” I wailed to Drew on night one, after getting ready for bed, careful not to get my new brows wet (you can’t get them wet for a whole week). “I don’t care how wrinkly and ugly I get! I’m not even getting so much as a facial ever again! I don’t think I’ll even ever get another haircut! I don’t want anyone touching anything on me ever again!”

“Ok,” Drew said, probably trying to figure out how to procure some Xanax for me (which he did, and which I managed not to take).


(Peeling! Also: hi, Miles!).

Just as Daniela said, the next few days were brutal. My brows were so dark and thick, I really could not show my face in public. I wore hats and sunglasses everywhere, even inside. We had a small seder at our place on Tuesday night (aka “Day Four”) and I even wore a hat for that. Fortunately, by the sixth day following the procedure, the scabs started peeling, revealing a much lighter, softer, very natural-looking set of brows. By Friday, I was even comfortable enough to take off my hat and sunglasses in public.

They still have to heal a bit more, and the pigment will change some in the next few weeks as it settles in. And once the healing is complete, I’ll need to go in for the second step of the process, which is a touch-up, where color is tweaked if that’s needed and any patchiness is filled in. If I opt not for the touch-up, the brows may fade much more quickly, so while I’m not crazy about going through the pain and healing all over again, I will probably choose that over losing the brows completely in less than a year.

At any rate, what seemed like an impossibility a little over a week ago is now a reality: I don’t hate my eyebrows. I even like them! And I think after the color settles and I get a touch-up, I’ll even love them. Best of all, Joanie is no longer looking at me and saying “Wash!” over and over.* (“She got the truth serum from YOU,” my friend Lesley said.) The other morning she even looked in my direction and said, “Cute!” which may have just been in reference to a new shirt I dressed her in, but I like to think she was talking about me and my not-scary-anymore brows. Thanks, Joanie — I’ll take it.

*It should be noted that both Jackson and Drew were very supportive through the whole thing. Drew was very understanding when I wanted to hide out for a few days, and Jackson never once said a negative thing about the way I looked, instead saying, “You look perfect, Mom. You always look perfect.” Haven’t I always bragged about what a smart kid he is?!

42 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Kate April 17, 2017, 10:15 am

    That’s awesome, Wendy!!! I’m sorry it was so traumatic for a while, but the last pic looks great!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    anonymousse April 17, 2017, 10:24 am

    You look great!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    LisforLeslie April 17, 2017, 10:24 am

    They do look great!

    Reply Link
  • Cleopatra_30

    Cleopatra_30 April 17, 2017, 10:51 am

    Sneaky lady! Totally thought you were joining the ‘body tattoo’ club with the rest of us! I am planning my 3rd tattoo this summer.

    The semi-final look of your brows look really natural though! Glad they turned out better than Day 1; I would have been equally shocked. I have heard about microblading, but had NO idea what it was, assumed it was another way to shape the brows, not an actual tattoo of your eyebrows.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Ale April 17, 2017, 10:52 am

    You look great. My mom got them microbladed also and she looks really good. At first when she showed me I was like WOW mom, you really went there. But when it starts fading they look really nice. I am thinking of doing it myself because I have thick eyebrows but one has a weird hole that makes the designing/waxing difficult. If I go somewhere new they end up doing horrible things to my eyebrows (I even posted once about that and was this close to cutting new bangs in orden to hide a horrible wax).
    I think the important lesson here is what you did: find a pro. Research, research, research. And trust her/him. Do as they say.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      golfer.gal April 17, 2017, 11:01 am

      Same! My mom got them done and at first they looked too dark and big, but after healing they look amazing. Our esthetician is top notch and does a great job; now I’m thinking of getting it done. The only thing is I think it’s only semi permanemt and you have to get the entire procedure redone every year or couple of years. You look great Wendy!

      Reply Link
      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 17, 2017, 11:08 am

        Yes, that’s true — microblading only lasts 1-3 years, which can be both a pro and a con. If you love the look and never want to change it, it’s a pain (literally and figuratively) to get it re-done every couple of years. Until another/better option is created, I’d be willing to do that to have natural-looking eyebrows that I don’t have to paint on or maintain in any way on a day-to-day basis. It may not be worth the trouble and expense for a lot of people, though, especially for those who aren’t looking for reconstruction but just want a bit more of a “wow” factor without needing make-up.

        Link
  • avatar

    ktfran April 17, 2017, 10:53 am

    I’ve cried over haircuts before… I can’t imagine feeling that way about something more permanent. I’m so happy your boys were supportive. And the do look really good!

    Reply Link
  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy April 17, 2017, 11:02 am

    Thanks, everyone!

    Reply Link
  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark April 17, 2017, 11:11 am

    Looking good!
    .
    PS — Somehow, I have NEVER heard of this procedure and thought it meant you got stabbed with a teeny tiny knife on the subway!!!
    .
    Um. Yes. I definitely need coffee. STAT!

    Reply Link
    • MaterialsGirl

      MaterialsGirl April 17, 2017, 11:28 am

      I also saw the microblading and thought someone got stabbed!

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    MissDre April 17, 2017, 11:13 am

    I have heard awesome things about microblading!! I’m so glad you’re enjoying your new brows as they heal. Your last pic looks really great 🙂

    Reply Link
  • MaterialsGirl

    MaterialsGirl April 17, 2017, 11:14 am

    They look amazing!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    TheHizzy April 17, 2017, 11:29 am

    I think they look great through the whole process!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    ginger April 17, 2017, 11:40 am

    This reminds me of when my mom gets her brows dyed. For the first day she always looks like Groucho Marx…

    But as someone with super light brows, its nice to learn that there is a semi permanent option for dealing with them – even if it means a few days of scary brows 🙂 Thanks for sharing Wendy! 🙂

    Reply Link
  • kmtthat

    kmtthat April 17, 2017, 11:42 am

    I am SO EXCITED to see this post as I have been strongly considering doing this and have friends who have had great results! I am so lucky to work from home so I can hide out for the super dark eyebrow part of it (or just embrace my inner chola). I think I’m most nervous about deciding on a shape as I have never in my life had full brows and thus no freedom to make real choices.
    .
    In any case the settled color looks great Wendy! After going through full laser hair removal in my nether regions (7 years ago and I still have almost no regrowth, an actual miracle) I think I can handle the pain.

    Reply Link
    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 17, 2017, 12:01 pm

      I felt very grateful I didn’t have an office job I have to show my face at in the days following my appointment. I even scheduled it on the saturday before Jackson’s spring break, so I wouldn’t have to see neighbor friends at drop-off and pick-up for over a week. Of all the testimonials I’d read, everyone seemed to go right back to regular activities (like work) immediately, but I really would not have been able to go to a job where I had to see people — it would have been too much of a distraction, for one thing, and I’d have felt so super self-conscious, I wouldn’t be able to focus on work. But from all the before and after photos I’ve seen, I think my particular situation was more extreme than average. Having almost zero brows to begin with, being so fair-skinned, and having relatively sensitive skin definitely affected how drastic/dramatic the immediate results looked.

      I think it would have been helpful for me if, when I paid and checked out, the people at the salon would have been honest with me and said something like, “It looks crazy now, but in a few days, it will look really natural and you’ll be much happier.” Instead, they were all like, “Ooh! Looks great!” Which made me think that what I was walking out with was the desired end result.

      Reply Link
      • Lianne

        Lianne April 17, 2017, 1:02 pm

        I agree on the support of the people that work there. But they do look awesome now! You’re brave for trying it and it all worked out well!

        Link
      • kmtthat

        kmtthat April 17, 2017, 3:19 pm

        Yeah I wish they had prepared you more for the immediate results!

        I am planning to do a scar revision on my face for a large scar (3/4 inch by 1/4 of an inch, deeply indented…damn the spider and bacterial infection that did this to me!). They are recommending cutting it out and basically stitching it together again so I have at least a thin flat scar instead of the huge crater. But they want to do it zig zag…and it’s right between my eyebrows…and I don’t want a Harry Potter scar.
        .
        What I mean to say is doing semi permanent/permanent stuff to your face is scary as your face is such a representation of you. And I know it sounds silly but this made me feel less crazy for being so nervous about it.

        Link
      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 17, 2017, 7:35 pm

        It’s definitely scary! You are justified in being nervous. But if you’ve got an experienced surgeon you trust, then you know you’re in good hands, and you’ll look great. Good luck!

        Link
  • Moneypenny

    Moneypenny April 17, 2017, 11:42 am

    Your brows look fantastic!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    cyndi April 17, 2017, 12:14 pm

    You look great!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Taylor April 17, 2017, 12:31 pm

    You look FAB! Hair: the older I get, the more of it there is where I don’t want it, and the less there is where I do want it!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Bubbles April 17, 2017, 12:35 pm

    Wow!! You look great!! Brows look very natural and the coloring is perfect!!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    RedRoverRedRover April 17, 2017, 12:35 pm

    Looks great, very natural! I have to trim my eyebrows every week or two. I guess I’ll be a hairy old lady. 🙁 I suppose unlike head hair, they’ll only get to a certain length, but I’ve plucked ones that are over 2″ long before. I’ll just have to make sure my kids love me enough to either groom me, or put me somewhere where they’ll groom me.

    Reply Link
  • Lianne

    Lianne April 17, 2017, 1:02 pm

    Love! Good for you! And thanks for sharing…they look fantastic!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Ashley April 17, 2017, 2:07 pm

    They look great and I’m glad they turned into something you like. I’ve never had any tattoos or procedures like that, but I’m sure they’re in my future.

    Reply Link
  • hfantods

    hfantods April 17, 2017, 2:43 pm

    Thank you for this for real review of microblading! I saw this process probably through some social media links and they always showed the before and after but never the in-between! I kind of would like some… shape to my eyebrows, so I am tempted but I do have an office job and I had no idea about the recovery time.

    Reply Link
    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 17, 2017, 7:33 pm

      I do think that my experience may be atypical. In all my research, I never heard a story of someone who had to be in hiding for days afterward. Most accounts even express how great the brows immediately looked, which was not my experience and which fueled my anxiety even more (“Everyone else looked great right afterward; I look like a freak!”). I think you should expect for your brows to appear darker and thicker (because of swelling) right afterward, but not necessarily scary or so distracting that you can’t go to your office job.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Another Jen April 17, 2017, 3:49 pm

    The final, settled-down look is really beautiful.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Kate April 17, 2017, 3:59 pm

    Another thing they don’t tell you is super painful is tattoo removal. Way more so than getting a regular tattoo.

    And it’s like, why would eyebrow tattoos fade so quickly when an ugly-ass rose from 1994 is still visible after 8 laser sessions? That seems unfair.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Essie April 17, 2017, 4:41 pm

    Wendy, they look so good! That last photo, especially! Wow.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    snoopy128 April 17, 2017, 4:50 pm

    They look great! And I feel like your experience with your lack of eyebrows + fair and sensitive skin would be a good thing to put in a review for other people to see.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Ange April 17, 2017, 5:38 pm

    I’m intrigued by this as your results look amazing and I probably only have a few dozen hairs per eyebrow at the absolute most but ugh, I live in a backwater right now. Maybe when I move back to the city….

    Reply Link
    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 17, 2017, 7:40 pm

      Yeah, I’d avoid a backwater salon, even if you found one that provided this service (because how much experience would the tech be getting, besides maybe a short workshop somewhere). But if you can take a trip to a city (or move back to the city), I recommend microblading for recreating natural-looking brows.

      Reply Link
  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy April 17, 2017, 7:40 pm

    Thanks for the kind words and support, everyone!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    findingtheearth April 18, 2017, 9:35 am

    You look fantastic!

    I have a couple of friends training to do this and they have told me wayyyyy too much detail about it!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Anon September 11, 2017, 12:09 pm

    My experience is much like yours – I also have FFA and lost all of my eyebrow hair (and had my doc suggest transplants). Not happening. So I did what you did, and had microblading done last week. Fortunately my esthetician warned me that my brows would be really dark for the first few days, but would fade by about 50 percent in a few weeks after they healed. So at least I knew what to expect! It’s only been 4 days, but I’m already feeling a little less like Joan Crawford. I think I’ll be very happy with them once they’re healed, and at least I won’t feel like I’m looking at a hairless alien when I see myself in the mirror each morning.

    I can understand why you were so freaked out at first, but I think yours look GREAT now that they’ve faded a bit. The color looks perfect for you, and the size and shape look pretty similar to your original brows. I know it was a scary decision, but I hope you’ll be really happy with it. I’m sorry about your FFA, since I know what you’re going through. I’ve lost all the hair on my arms and legs, too. But that’s not so bad – at least I don’t have to shave my legs anymore!

    Best of luck to you

    Reply Link
    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy September 11, 2017, 12:26 pm

      Thank you! My eyebrows ended up fading a lot and then I got the recommended touch-up about 6 weeks after the first appointment and had to go through the healing process all over again. This time, they did not fade as quickly, which isn’t necessarily bad. Now, 3 1/3 months later, I really, really like them, and am so glad I chose this route. Hope you love your brows, too!

      I did not lose hair on my legs and arms, or really anywhere else besides my brows and receding hairline. I’m curious how old you are? FFA is rare in generally, but especially rare among pre-menopausal women. I haven’t connected with anyone else my age who’s experienced it…

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        Anon September 13, 2017, 9:03 am

        I am 59, and was diagnosed with it a couple of years ago, so yes, post-menopausal, like most women. I’m sorry you have to deal with it at a younger age! I hope it burns out quickly for you. I am on finasteride which has helped the texture of my hair (it was getting extremely fine), but I don’t know if it’s really helped with the hair loss. At least it’s very slow in progressing, and I can still mostly hide it with my bangs. I’m sure nobody else notices it as much as I do.

        I think losing hair anywhere other than the hairline and brows is pretty unusual. I also have Raynaud’s Syndrome, which apparently increases the chances of getting FFA.

        Link

Leave a Comment