Microblading vs. Microshading: What's the Difference?

Microblading vs. Microshading: What's the Difference?

Permanent makeup, also known as cosmetic tattooing, offers a convenient way to enhance your features and cut down on daily makeup application. Two popular techniques for permanent makeup are microblading and microshading. But what exactly is the difference, and which is right for you?

What Is Microblading?

Tattoorist Make Girl Beautiful with Microblading

Microblading is a semi-permanent tattoo technique where a handheld tool with tiny needles in a linear shape is used to draw on hair-like strokes that mimic natural brows. The needles deposit pigment into the upper layers of the skin. A technician uses this tool to create thin, hair-like strokes along the brow area after numbing it with anesthetic cream. They control the stroke depth and style by adjusting the blade angle and hand pressure. More pigment is added to enhance the definition.

How Does Microblading Work?

During microblading, a technician first maps the shape of your brows. After numb cream sets in, they use the microblading tool to deposit pigment in hair-like strokes following your natural shape. The hand pressure and angle of the tiny needles can vary to change the depth and style of strokes. More passes add pigment for better definition. A follow-up session allows for any touch-ups. The fine strokes created by the linear needles mimic real brow hairs for a natural look.

What Is Microshading?

Tattoorist Make Girl Beautiful with Microshading

Microshading uses a handheld rotary tattoo pen with rapid vibrating needles to deposit brow pigment. This creates a soft, powdery effect rather than distinct hairs. The pen moves in a stippling technique to shade and fill the brows. Multiple passes blend the pigment evenly for a smooth, shaded outcome. Compared to microblading, the pigment reaches deeper into the skin and results in a more powdered, ombre appearance as dots of color are blended.

How Does Microshading Work?

The technician outlines the brow shape and then uses stippling motions with the tattoo pen to shade pigment into the skin, not discrete strokes. Multiple passes layer and blend the pigment to create a soft, powdery look. The rapid vibrating needles dispersed into the dermis with different hand pressures allow for an evenly shaded effect. Touch-ups may be needed to perfect the shape and color. Numbing cream is applied beforehand for comfort.

What Are the Key Differences Between These Techniques?

While microblading and microshading both fall under permanent makeup, there are some notable differences between the two techniques:

Tools Used

When it comes to the tools used, there is a clear distinction between the two techniques. Microblading employs a handheld tool equipped with several linear blades. This tool is used to create precise hair strokes. On the other hand, microshading utilizes a powered rotary pen which has small vibrating needles.

Effects Created

The effects created by these techniques are distinct as well. Microblading offers a natural-looking outcome, creating an appearance similar to actual hair through crisp, thin strokes. In contrast, microshading gives a softer, more powdered effect. This is achieved by blending dots of color together.


The technique applied in each process also differs. Microblading involves the meticulous drawing of individual hair strokes, aiming to mimic the pattern of natural eyebrow hairs. However, microshading works differently, using a stippling or dotting technique to shade the area.

Depth of Pigment Deposit

Another key difference lies in the depth at which the pigment is deposited into the skin. With microblading, the pigment is only placed into the superficial layer of the dermis. However, microshading deposits the pigment deeper into the dermis. This difference affects how the results are maintained over time.

Results Over Time

Speaking of time, the durability of these techniques varies. Microblading tends to fade faster, necessitating more frequent touch-ups to keep its appearance. Meanwhile, microshading retains its shape and color for a longer period before needing a touch-up, making it a more long-lasting option.

What Are the Factors That Influence Technique Choice?

Several factors come into play when deciding between microblading or microshading for your permanent makeup application.

Hair Density

Microshading works better for filling in sparse or thin brows.

Microblading complements those with decent natural brow density.

Existing Brow Shape

Microshading can reshape brows by shading and filling as needed.

Microblading follows your natural shape while enhancing definition.

Skin Type

Oilier skin benefits from microshading since the color lasts longer than microblading.

Normal or dry skin can achieve either effect, but microblading may require more frequent touch-ups.

Desired Outcome

If you want to define hair-like strokes, choose microblading.

For a soft, shaded effect with blended color, go with microshading.


Microshading pigment stays longer, so it may require less frequent touch-ups than microblading.

Expect touch-ups every 1-3 years for microshading compared to every 1-2 years for microblading.

What to Expect During Treatment Sessions

Now that you understand the differences between techniques, here is an overview of what to expect when getting microblading or microshading:

  • Consultation: Schedule a consultation with your technician to discuss desired results and determine which procedure is right for you. They will assess your hair density, skin type, and existing brow shape.
  • Anesthetic: A topical anesthetic cream is applied to numb the treatment area for your comfort prior to each session.
  • First Session: The initial session involves shaping, measuring, and administering the chosen pigment. For microblading, hair strokes are drawn on. Microshading uses a stippling technique. Plan on 2+ hours for the first visit.
  • Healing Time: Allow 4-6 weeks between sessions for proper healing. The pigment will fade significantly during this time.
  • Second Session: A second session 4-6 weeks later is standard for both techniques to reinforce and refine the results by adding another layer of pigment into the skin. You'll continue healing for another 1-2 weeks.

This treatment journey requires patience and adherence to post-treatment care instructions to ensure the most satisfactory outcomes. Every step in this process is tailored to enhance your natural features, bringing you closer to achieving your desired look.


The best technique for you depends on your unique goals, characteristics, and skin type. But whether you choose microblading for defined, hair-like strokes or microshading for a soft, shaded look, a talented technician can elevate your brows for beautiful and convenient permanent makeup.

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