Be it Audrey Hepburn’s brows from the 50s, Brooke Shields’ brows from the 80s or Cara Delevingne’s from the 2000s, eyebrows have inspired entire generations. But not all of us are born with fluffy, beautiful face-framing brows, are we? So, if you’re contemplating getting your eyebrows done, then you’ll want to read this. I recently tried ombré brows, and below I share my first-hand experience with this semi-permanent makeup procedure.
What Are Ombré Brows?
To begin with, ombré brows is a cosmetic tattoo procedure, also known as ombré shading. This technique involves depositing pigment into the epidermal surface (top layer of skin) of the brow area with a fine needle.
“As the name ‘ombré’ suggests, the colour gradually fades from tail of the brow to the front, with the tail being darkest and front being softer and more subtle to give it a natural brow look. This technique resembles a soft, shaded brow pencil look,” says Rashmi Muniraju, Bengaluru-based Cosmetic Tattoo Artist & Founder of RoMo Beautique.
This technique requires 1 to 2 sessions with the artist, depending on the desired look. The entire process including consultation, mapping, numbing and procedure takes about two hours on average, but sometimes, due to facial asymmetries, mapping could take a bit longer.
Ombré brows can last up to two years, allowing you to do away with brow pencils, pomades and the like. Of course, if you’d like to build them or darken them further, you can continue using these. But what it does is it takes away the hassle of filling in your brows daily. For those with sparse brows like mine, this technique is a blessing indeed.
My Experience With Ombré Brows
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I started off by doing a consultation with Rashmi, who has received certifications from Canada, USA, Brazil & Russia for semi-permanent services such as Ombré Brows, Lip Blush, Lip Neutralization and Scalp Micropigmentation.
Chatting with her at her cosy studio in Indiranagar, I picked her brain and asked her a million questions about ombré brows, because honestly, I hadn’t heard of them until very recently and wanted to be sure before I went ahead with it. She answered all of them patiently, and then we set up an appointment for a later date. You can also easily have your consultation done on the same day as your appointment. Rashmi shared that in the days after the procedure, the pigment can look darker, skin starts to flake off and can look a bit ‘unpresentable’, so bear all this in mind if you have any important events coming up. The ideal situation is to have a gap of two weeks, so that the brows have healed completely.
On D-day, my session with Rashmi was comfortable, and almost pain-free! She started off by brow mapping with a pre-inked thread, where she marked the key points along the eyebrow such as the front, the arch, and the tail so as to ensure when she fills them in, they are even and the shape suits my face structure. She then shaved off the extra hair from the brow area with an eyebrow razor. Later, she wiped off all the extra ink and only left the eyebrow outline, within which she would work her magic. At this point, she asked me to take a look in the mirror and check whether I was happy
with the shape and the way it looked, only then would she go ahead with filling in the brows. If I wasn’t, she could further alter the shape and thickness to my liking.
We discussed the colour of pigment that would be used for me. She decides this based on a client’s hair colour and skin tone, and also their preference. For Indian skin tones, pigments used usually are black, dark brown, light brown, or a combination. For me, she used a combination of dark brown and light brown. We then got started on the shading, without any numbing cream. Though primary numbing, or applying it before starting, is completely optional. It takes 30 minutes minimum to numb the procedure area. Having had tattoos done before, I wasn’t worried about the needle or any pain. Rashmi did give me a head’s up before my appointment saying I could take a painkiller before I started, but I avoided it.
Once we started with the shading, I realised that getting my eyebrows tweezed or threaded hurt way more than this procedure did! It feels like a mild scratching sensation on the brow area, with the tattoo machine-like sound in the background. That’s literally it! As the needle doesn’t penetrate very deep into the skin, it doesn’t cause any major pain or trauma to the skin. Rashmi filled in the both the brows a couple of times and checked and rechecked to make sure they were evenly filled in.
She did use a numbing cream in between passes (going over the brows again to deposit more colour). She says, “Secondary numbing is used on the open skin. We use numbing gel with an ingredient called epinephrine. This ingredient actually blanches the skin by blocking the blood vessels temporarily. The pigment injected will look nice and bright because of this effect. Also, the redness caused by the needle will disappear!” This also allows her to see her work more clearly and fill in gaps, if any.
Once done, I was thrilled to see how good my brows looked! I was expecting them to be different and thought I’d need a few days to get used to how they now looked. I thought I’d be a bit overwhelmed honestly, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Mia Thermopolis of Princess Diaries’ ‘after’ brows and not ‘before’! I put my trust in the artist, trusted the process and the result was natural-looking brows that made my face look fresher, more defined and younger somehow!
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Rashmi left me with a list of dos and don’ts for the next few days. She pointed out the fact that all semi-permanent procedures must be treated as ‘wounds’ and therefore, should be protected with utmost care to prevent any infection. The brows heal completely within two weeks, but for added care during this time, she advises avoiding strong actives in the brow area, putting off swimming for two weeks, not getting any face massages or facials in that time, etc.
Ombré Brows Vs. Microblading
If you’re wondering how ombré brows differs from microblading, here are the deets. For ombré brows, a device similar to a tattooing machine is used, while for microblading a handheld tool is used to create those hairlike incisions. “Microblading is a series of micro needles that are used to cut open the skin to deposit the pigment into the skin, while ombré shading is performed using a machine and a single needle with a painting/pendulum motion to make tiny punctures to inject pigment, a lot like tattooing,” says Rashmi.
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While microblading is a more popular eyebrow technique, Rashmi shares that this is because it is the oldest brow technique that has been around for over 25 years. On the other hand, ombré brows have been around only for a few years but have become popular in recent times due to the desirable results it offers.
There’s little to no skin damage or trauma with the ombré technique, while microblading could cause scarring. Rashmi also points out that while microblading looks beautiful immediately after the procedure, ombré looks amazing even after healing. “Ombré brows can also be designed to be as natural as possible or as dramatic or bold as desired, while microblading consists only of natural hair strokes,” she says.
While ombré brows last up to two years depending on skin type and maintenance, microblading lasts for 8 months to a year, so the former is longer lasting.
The downside of microblading as compared to ombré brows is that over time, microbladed hair strokes spread under the skin and create an uneven-shaded look. But when it comes to ombré brows, the pigment is injected evenly right from the start.
With regards to skin type, the ombré brows technique is suitable for all skin types – oily, dry, combination and normal, unlike microblading which is better suited to dry to normal skin, and not oily and sensitive types. “Microblading, in fact, should not be performed on those who have combination or oily skin due to the risk of hair strokes becoming thicker much sooner. For them, ombré brows is a much better option,” says Rashmi.
Good To Know
Rashmi points out that semi-permanent makeup services are highly-priced, and this is the reason of interest by many. Artists charge upwards of 10-15k for such brow techniques. But she cautions that since the industry is unregulated in our country hence, anyone can perform or train, or ‘give you a better deal’, but there are only a handful of good artists doing good quality work. “A lot of ‘cheap’ training/academies are producing a huge number of underperforming artists who are churning out awful facial procedures. Sometimes, the damage is permanent and irreversible, and this is damaging the reputation of the industry,” says Rashmi.
A good idea, therefore, is to find out about the artist’s background and training, certifications, having a look at a lot of their work and also talking to their previous clients even if possible. Don’t forget to quiz your brow artist on whatever you’d like to know before the procedure. It is, after all, a technique done on the face that you’ll have to live with for a while and look at every day!