Eyebrow microblading is a glorious gift that has literally changed my life. But while the results — perfectly arched and defined brows that last for up to three years — are amazing, no one talks about the downside of microblading: the aftercare. It’s a full week of healing, and it’s not pretty.
What is microblading? Essentially, it’s a semi-permanent tattoo. Microblading artists use micro needles to draw on small strokes by hand, mimicking the appearance of individual strands of hair. Even when viewed up close, these “hairs” look super realistic. I had mine done a year ago, but it was time for a touch up, so I went back to the best in the business, Piret Aava, AKA the Eyebrow Doctor. Piret is so good, she has a one-year waiting list for new clients.
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The procedure went smoothly, but since it had been a year, I’d completely forgotten what it was like to take care of my freshly tattooed brows afterward. There are so many rules, but the two most important will prove the hardest for me to follow: Your brows must stay completely dry, and you can’t put any pressure on them for a week. (Which you might do while sleeping, for example.)
The second I leave Piret’s office on a sweltering hot day, I start sweating. Because sweat is pure salt, it’s the worst kind of wetness for microbladed brows, and can cause them to change color. (You can apply a Vaseline-like solution as a barrier, which is truly not pretty.) I justifiably start freaking out about my brows getting wet, which in turn makes me sweat even more. It is truly a vicious cycle.
The sweating doesn’t get better as the week goes on — it gets worse. An unfortunate fact of my life is that I am a sweater. I start sweating even thinking about going outside. Then my sweat sweats. (Single file, boys.) It’s the height of summer, and I’m afraid to go outside. Waiting on the crowded, hot subway platform? Forget about it. I carry a fan with me all week. Climbing up the stairs to my fifth-floor, walk-up apartment? Pray for me.
This also means no working out for seven whole days. I forget I promised to play in a soccer game one day after work, and have to cancel, to the dismay of my teammates. I also back out of a SoulCycle class I’ve been looking forward to going to with a friend. But this is a pain I inflicted upon myself and I try my best to live with my decision.
In addition, I’m unable to wash my hair. Technically, you can (with extreme caution), but I don’t trust myself to exercise the necessary level of restraint. So I go heavy on the dry shampoo. Lovely.
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But the WORST part of it all is not being able to sleep on my stomach. Because the “wound” from the needle scabs needs to heal, you can’t apply pressure to your brows for seven days. My coworker got hers done and accidentally slept on her side, and one of her brows smudged and then was faded. I am diligent about sleeping on my back, but fam, it’s real hard. When I actually do fall asleep, it isn’t quality sleep, because I’m so freaked out about rolling onto my stomach. That actually does happen a few times, and I immediately wake myself, but then can’t fall back asleep, as I’m worried that I’ve ruined my brows or will roll over again. Not a REM cycle in sight. By night four, awake in the middle of the night, I have talked myself into believing that I don’t even care, and that quality sleep is more important to me than good brows. I am officially spiraling.
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To the pure delight of those around me, I complain to anyone who will listen. Loudly. Nonstop. My perfect eyebrows are making my life terrible. My two best friends are pregnant and they both have the same response to my incessant irritability: “If you can’t make it through seven nights of not sleeping on your stomach, how will you make it through nine months of pregnancy someday?” A valid point, which I haven’t even considered. I’m doomed.
I’m five days through my week of pure hell, which means I have two more nights of sleeping on my back. Two more days of worrying about sweating, with the humidity in New York City projected to be around a casual 80%. EIGHTY PERCENT. Two more days of not working out. Two more days of not washing my hair. It’s unclear if I will survive. Early results indicate no. I’m clinging to the belief that perfect eyebrows do exist, and I’m two days away from having them — but at what cost?