Not only is Anatomy Tattoo a beautiful, safe, creative, female-owned business to get tattooed at, but we also provide stunning permanent makeup as well!
Our permanent makeup artist’s name is Kelsey Gallagher and you can find her @Miss.Kelsey.Cosmetics on Instagram. She recently graduated from Vancouver Lash and Brow Academy and is now a licensed PMU here at our lovely studio in Portland, Oregon. She has an amazing aesthetic eye, and a natural talent for shaping the brow and offering advice toward the best look to suit your features.
We understand that permanent makeup (PMU) and the idea of getting your eyebrows tattooed’ can sound intimidating, but we’re here to ease that discomfort and provide some education and insight on the matter.
We will go over the history of microblading and cosmetic makeup, the difference between eyebrow tattoos and microblading, different styles of brows to choose from, and aftercare techniques we recommend here at Anatomy Tattoo.
PMU and Cosmetic Tattooing History:
Permanent makeup, otherwise known as micropigmentation, dermapigmentation, or cosmetic tattooing, is a technique that uses ink to produce that resemblance of makeup. Cosmetic tattoos can be applied in various places throughout the body and face to create eyeliner, lip tint, brows, blush, and can even be utilized for areola restoration and scar repigmentation.
The official origin of tattooing and imprinting pigments onto the top layer of the skin can be dated back to as early as 1,300 B.C.E. . In fact, tattooing and permanent makeup can be dated all over the world. People used to tattoo themselves for different reasons, whether it be for religious, medical, or aesthetic purposes.
It’s known that early Native Americans used tattoos for sacred and spiritual purposes, and to identify tribes and express ties to their own. In Asia, men would tattoo themselves to showcase their societal rankings. In fact, Japanese culture was one of the first to use colored inks, like synthetic blues and green organic dyes. In Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra figured out early on how to use cosmetics for beauty instead of decorative or religious reasons.  The ancient Egyptians, in particular, adorned their faces with kohl, ochre, and other minerals as a ritual for fertility and protection, with strong brows being very common. Cleopatra’s iconic bold eyebrows were permanently pigmented with carbon and black oxide to create her fierce and fiery look.
During the 1980s is when permanent makeup brows became popular again. At the time, there was such a negative stigma behind the word “tattoo” that it has taken on multiple different names, including micropigmentation, facial demographic, and intradermal pigmentation.  Throughout the 20th century, a more standard tattooing technique was being applied, compared to the tools and techniques that were used back in the day. Current Microblading practices have evolved so much just within the last 5 years! Achieving beautiful bold eyebrows isn’t only attained by a tattoo machine to the face. There is so much more that goes into it.
What it is and who it’s for:
Microblading sometimes referred to as embroidery and feather touching, is a tattooing technique in which a small tool with fine needles is used to create slices in the skin and deposit pigment into the brows. Microblading differs from standard eyebrow tattooing because each hair stroke is created by hand to create a more natural look. Traditional eyebrow tattoos are done with a machine and a single needle, and can sometimes leave your eyebrows looking blocky and unnatural. Microblading is typically used on eyebrows to create, enhance or reshape their appearance in terms of both shape and color. It deposits pigment into the upper region of the dermis, so it fades more rapidly than traditional tattooing techniques, which deposit pigment deeper. This is why follow-ups and touch-ups are so essential to maintain the desired look of a brow. Microblading artists are not necessarily tattoo artists, and vice versa, because the techniques require different training, certification, pigment, and even tools.
Cosmetic tattooing is for all. Men, women, non-binary individuals, BIPOC, young and the elderly, literally everyone. This practice is intended to help people fall in love with themselves again and feel more confident than ever!
The appeal of permanent makeup is multifaceted, and many individuals enjoy it for various reasons. It may be beneficial and cost-effective depending upon certain lifestyles, too. Some people enjoy the convenience of permanent makeup because this means less time in the mirror in the morning, or it’s helpful for people who require glasses to see up close to apply makeup. Some may utilize this service to achieve a more natural appearance, to fill gaps in places where the hair is sparse, or to not have to touch up makeup throughout the day. Other reasons why people may choose permanent makeup may be due to medical conditions like alopecia (patchy or total hair loss), hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), Psoriasis, vitiligo, or those who are undergoing chemotherapy. Permanent makeup is also great if an individual is wanting to redeposit “hair” over scars, curb insecurity, boost confidence, and for individuals with oily skin who wish to obtain a fresh, sharp, and sexy makeup appearance that will last months. It’s even great for those who perform in activities that may cause lots of sweating, like athletics, sex work, camping, yoga, gardening, and so much more! Anyone who wishes to take control of their appearance and who wants to save time in their daily routine may find permanent makeup appealing.
Next, we’ll discuss the differences between microblading, micro shading, and combo brows to help those who have questions gain clarity on their permanent makeup journey.
Permanent makeup 101:
There are a few different terms that are essential to know before making an appointment with your future permanent makeup artist or technician. These terms will help you determine which service may be best for you. You should also consult with your potential PMU artist to find out which service may best suit you.
Microblading, as stated earlier, is a technique that uses a small tool with needles that deposit ink into the dermis. These strokes are created by dragging the tool (dipped in a very small amount of pigment) across the skin in the brow area until the desired fullness and shape are achieved. These needles can come in various shapes to make different styles of stroke. This look is perfect for those who desire a very natural, light-looking eyebrow as this leaves very realistic-looking hair strokes. Touch-ups are best around 3-6 months after your initial appointment, but this may vary per client.
Microshading is a technique that requires the use of a tattoo machine. This technique is also known as “powder brow” and sometimes referred to as an “ombré brow”. After mapping out the client’s desired brow shape, the technician would begin using the machine to apply multiple layers of tiny dots that get dispersed throughout the brow, ultimately creating a heavier or fuller makeup illusion to the brow. The “powder brow” style of this technique is intended to provide a gentler finish to the brows. This look is perfect for those who have sparse, thinning, and over-plucked eyebrows. Touch-ups are best 6-8 months after your initial appointment, but this may vary per client.
Combo brows is a combination of both microblading & microshading. This style of brow is perfect for those who have sparse or thinning eyebrows, hair loss, or those who simply want a more defined brow arch. The cost of this service will typically be more expensive and take more time since a great variety of tools will be used to accomplish this look. Touch-ups are best 6-8 months after the initial appointment, but this can vary per client.
Ombre brows use a combination of manual tools and machinery to obtain the effect of the two-toned brow, with the inside brow being lighter, and the tail being dense and bold. This brow is best for clients who wish to have a more dramatic, bold look. Touch-ups are best 6-8 months from your initial appointment, but again, this may vary per client.
How to take care of your new eyebrows:
When it comes to healing your freshly microbladed eyebrows, there’s a lot of parallels with healing a new tattoo. Kelsey, our resident permanent makeup artist has compiled a list of aftercare for all clients to follow after receiving a service, this includes:
- With clean heads, gently wash your brows morning and night with room temp water and a dampened cotton pad.
- Lightly pat them dry with a paper towel or cotton pad and then lightly moisturize with recommended aftercare.
- Change your pillowcase and please avoid touching your brows to your pillowcase while sleeping.
- Repeat twice daily until brows have fully finished peeling (approximately 10-14 days)
- Avoid any excess moisture, excess sweat, makeup, exfoliation, and skincare products in the area.
- Avoid the sun, though once your brows have peeled you may wear sunscreen.
- Do not touch or pick your brows while healing.
What to expect during the healing process:
Although healing is the final step, it’s the most critical part. It’s highly recommended that clients follow all suggested instructions for proper healing. The healing process may take over 10 days and eyebrows might appear bolder after the procedure until the pigment settles into the skin, which is considered normal and part of the healing process. It is also common to have faded areas. It may take between 1-3 treatments to achieve desired results.
- 1-3 days post-procedure: (during this stage your brows may appear very dark) immediately after the procedure, you’ll be in the healing stage. You may have swelling, redness, skin sensitivity, minor bruises, and/or slight discomfort. These are all normal side effects. You may take over-the-counter pain relievers.
- 4-7 days post-procedure: (during this stage your brows may scab, then look as though the pigment has fallen out) the top layer of skin will start to become flaky, itchy, and may start peeling. Do your best to avoid picking or itching. Let your brows heal naturally. If they become too itchy, you can lightly tap on the area in lieu of scratching. The newly exposed pigments will eventually soften and settle into an appropriate natural appearance. To help aid the healing process, you may apply a thin layer of the recommended aftercare product at night just before bed.
- 8-10 days post-procedure: (during this stage it’s typical for a velvety or waxy slough to appear, covering the pigment which may make them appear too light) scabbing and shedding may occur. You might have the urge to scratch, refrain from doing this because you could lose pigmentation. You may soothe the area with a cold, not frozen, compress or face cloth (lightly damp, not wet). The best healing component is simply to let your new brows breathe if it’s tolerable.
- 10-14 days post-procedure: the initial intense color will have settled into your skin and the desired color and shade will begin to appear.
All photos in this post were provided by Kelsey Gallagher. It includes a few photos of different types of looks Kelsey has given her awesome clients over the last few months. You can reach Kelsey by filling out her booking form (click here).
We hope this article has shed some light on any questions or concerns you may have had about permanent makeup and microblading. If you have any further questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or ask Kelsey in her booking form/during your consultation. We appreciate each and every one of you and look forward to working with you all!
Blog post was written and researched by Devin Bohman