Meet Microblading’s Refined Big Sister, AKA The Next Major Brow Treatment

Fuller, sculpted brows, natural-looking FTW.

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model with great brows

The last decade has seen a major spotlight on brow trends. First there were the super-sculpted, fluffy brows you couldn’t escape on your Instagram feed even if you tried, then came the thin, barely-there arch that signified the ‘90s, and now bleached brows are all the rage. Throughout all of the various brow looks, one thing that’s remained constant is the existence of brow treatments like microblading, which many people (including cancer patients and those suffering from trichotillomania or alopecia) have turned to for more defined brows that won’t wipe off in the pool or shower. That being said, microblading is not for everyone. If you like the idea of a semi-permanent solution for your brows but prefer something a bit more subtle, nano brows might be the new trend to consider for 2022.

If you’re not familiar already, nano brows are an alternative to the coveted microblading treatment that offers more precision for those with full brows, sparse brows, and everything in between. Curious to learn the ins and outs of the treatment? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about nanoblading, including pain level, healing time, after-care, and, most importantly, how it’s different from microblading — straight from the experts.

What Are Nano Brows?

Think of nano brows as microblading’s more refined sister. As eyebrow specialist Joey Healy explains, “nanoblading applies pigment on the skin behind the brows, filling in little gaps and visually improving the brow’s appearance by giving them that two-dimensional look.”

Besides filling in sparser areas, the treatment can also help improve the shape of your brows. For instance, Healy notes that if your brows aren’t level, nanoblading allows you to give one brow more of a boost. Or, if one is coming up short, you can extend the tail to even them out. “You can use the treatment to help improve basic symmetry by working on the perimeter of the brows,” says Healy. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a more natural look or you’re scared of the big, bold strokes of microblading, Healy says nano brows may be a better option.

Nano Brows Versus Microbladed Brows

“Nano brows are done with a machine while microbladed brows are done with a hand-held blade,” says Bree Olson, founder of Trio Beauty. “With nano brows, the pigment is inserted deeper into the skin, which means it will last longer, while with microblading, the pigment is placed more superficially into the skin.” Because nanoblading relies on a machine — versus the technician — to apply consistent pressure throughout the treatment, the results will be more consistent in color after the service and as it fades, Olson says.

While almost anyone is a candidate for nano brows (including those with oily skin), microblading is best for those with firm, normal to dry skin, as this skin type will hold on to color better. Finally, there’s also a difference in the ouch-factor associated with both treatments. “Machine work, as in the case with nanoblading, is definitely less painful when done correctly since there is no ‘cutting’ involved,” notes Carla Ricciardone, founder and owner of Sculpted Studios in NYC and Miami. Still, ask your technician about numbing anesthetics if you’re sensitive.

How To Prep For Nanoblading

Nanoblading, like microblading, is a tattoo, so you’ll have to prep accordingly the week before. First off, to get the best shape possible, Healy says to avoid removing your brow hairs via waxing, tweezing, or shaving. Also, steer clear of blood thinners (including aspirin and fish supplements), caffeine, alcohol, and any skin care product that contains acids or retinol to avoid irritation. You should arrive to your appointment without a sunburn or tan (either faux or natural), and avoid chemical peels, Botox, or laser treatments two months prior to your appointment, says Ricciardone. If you’re concerned about the pain level, Ricciardone says that “you’ll be more sensitive five days before, during, and five days after your menstrual cycle,” so keep this in mind as you’re scheduling your appointment.

As with any cosmetic procedure, it’s important to do your research on the technician. “Nano brows are among the most difficult techniques to master, and you should look at an artist’s healed work before making your decision,” says Ricciardone. Beyond this, consider how well the artist communicates, listens, and whether or not they provide follow-up contact after the treatment.

The Process Of Nanoblading

The nanoblading process is similar to microblading, but will take longer since a finer needle is being used. Essentially, your artist will do a full consultation, including reviewing your health and consent forms. “Then, they’ll map and sketch your brow design according to the features of your face, muscle movement, skin type, age, and current brow hair placement and density,” explains Ricciardone. “From there, the artist will custom blend a color that takes into account the color and undertone of your skin to give you the best results.” Then, the tattoo process begins. “These treatments can take anywhere from two to five hours depending on the intricacy needed, the type of skin, and the artist's experience level,” says Ricciardone.

How Much Does Nanoblading Cost?

When it comes to pricing, depending on where you get the treatment done, it’ll range from $500 to $1200. This isn’t a treatment to skimp on cost however — you’re getting a needle in your face, so save up and go to an accredited practitioner with plenty of experience.

Nano Brows After-Care

After the treatment, your brows will be bandaged up and may feel sore or inflamed. You may experience darker-than-expected brows in the beginning (like microblading), but they should lighten up over time. “Because of the skin's natural healing and regeneration process, it’s normal for clients to experience color loss or what appears to be a color loss, causing the brows to look uneven or even disappear altogether in some areas,” says Ricciardone. This is why follow-up appointments are important to ensure the best results. In any case, while it’s normal to be excited about your new brows, Ricciardone says to resist the urge to touch, pick, peel, tamper, or rub the peeling during the healing process, as you’ll risk damaging the color and affecting the retention.

As far as what to do (and most importantly, what not to do) post-treatment, it’s really important to listen to your specific technician’s after-care instructions as everyone’s post-procedure maintenance is different. Generally speaking, you’ll be asked to blot the treated area with antiseptic wipes for the first few days. Beyond this, there are specific rules your technician will supply you with according to how far along you are in the healing process.

For the first five days post-treatment, you should avoid cleansers, makeup, water, lotion, soap, swimming, tanning salons, saunas, and physical activity that would cause you to sweat, says Ricciardone. For the first 14 days, you should also avoid facials, threading, skin treatments, laser, and any petroleum-based products. And throughout your healing process, you should steer clear of injectables, prolonged sun exposure, and any products containing alcohol, glycolic, lactose, or fruit acids.

Nano Brow Results

It’ll take about a month to see the full results, so be patient and let the skin go through its natural healing process before judging your results. In terms of how long your nano brows will last, Ricciardone notes that whether it’s a nano stroke or a microblading stroke, if placed correctly in the proper layer of the dermis (papillary layer), the pigmentation will last two to four years. You will experience some fading, though, as “the skin-care products you use, Mother Nature, and facials all exfoliate the epidermis,” says Ricciardone. “Over time, that natural or self-created exfoliation makes the work implanted much lighter.”

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