Microblading vs. Eyebrow Tattoo: What’s The Difference

Written by WD Staff, Skin Care Specialists on February 23, 2018 34 Comments

microblading vs eyebrow tattoo

The eyebrows play a significant role in the aesthetics of the face. The shape, fullness, and symmetry of the brows all work together to highlight the eyes and frame the upper face. If you have thin or patchy eyebrows there is a non-invasive treatment that can instantly improve the eyebrow area: microblading.

Microblading is a popular eyebrow enhancement technique that improves the shape, definition, and thickness of the brows. The microblading technique uses a specialized hand-held tool with a unique blade to deposit dye into the second dermal layer of the skin, creating very fine strokes that mimic the appearance of natural eyebrow hair.

People often think microblading is a type of tattoo. While the techniques may sound similar, microblading and eyebrow tattooing are very different.

Here are 4 key differences between microblading and eyebrow tattoos:

Natural-looking Outcome

Microblading creates a more natural end result compared to eyebrow tattooing, which results in brows that appear “drawn on” and flat. This is because the microblading technique creates individual hair-like strokes that are identical to hair growth pattern of the surrounding eyebrow hair. A good microblading technician can make treated areas look like a more dense version of the natural brow hair.

Pigment vs. Ink

Tattoo ink is used for eyebrow tattooing while microblading uses a specialized pigment. Ink differs greatly from pigment in the way it fades over time. As tattoo ink fades, it often develops a blue-green colored tint, especially around the edges of the tattoo. This can leave people with some oddly colored eyebrows that often look as though they were created with a Sharpie.

In contrast, microblading pigment is specifically designed to fade into a lighter version of the color used so the patient retains a natural appearance.

Semi-permanent vs. Permanent

Eyebrow tattoos are permanent. Once the ink is tattooed onto the skin it is there for life (although undesirable fading of the ink as mentioned above is possible). This is very different from microblading, where the results typically last about 6 months to a year. Simple “touch up” treatments can be done annually if the microblading patient wishes to maintain their enhanced brow. The semi-permanent nature of microblading allows patients the ability to change the appearance of their brow as trends change.


Getting a tattoo can be relatively painful, especially if they are placed in a sensitive area like the face. The microblading technique involves much less discomfort, especially if the brow area is numbed with lidocaine prior to treatment. Most patients describe the feeling of microblading to be similar to tweezing.

WD Staff

A united group of skin care specialists from Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, Austin's leader in Dermatology and Plastic Surgery. Articles posted under WD staff are authored through combined contributions from our entire team, including Plastic Surgeons, Dermatologists, Aestheticians, Physician Assistants, Aesthetic Nurses, and Patient Coordinators.

34 Responses to “Microblading vs. Eyebrow Tattoo: What’s The Difference”

  1. Deborah says:

    Is Microblading available at the Central Lamar Westlake Dermatology location? If so, how much is the cost?

  2. WD Staff WD Staff says:

    Hi Deborah, thanks for reading our post! Unfortunately we don’t offer microblading at Lamar Central but we do have it at our Lakeway, South Austin, and Round Rock locations. We have a current promotion going for $750 (normal price of treatment is $1,000).

    Please give us a call if you have any addition questions on the service our would like to schedule.

    Thanks again,

    WD Staff

  3. Leslie says:

    I find some of this article to be false. The same exact numbing cream is used in both procedures and the pain is the same. Microblading, while pretty at first, will bleed out as tech is making a cut in the skin, like taking an blade to a tomato and making a cut – it will splay open. Tattooing is putting ink into the skin without making the slice like tattooing an apple, there will be no splaying out, but will remain art on the apple or skin. The ink that is used is also the same. It is up to the tech to use the proper color – all ink will fade some. Do not ever use black, I don’t care what the client wants… those will either be too dark or will fade some to blue like many tattoos do. You always want to balance your ink. The beauticians doing the microblading in many cases have no idea what they are doing and fortunately for the client, much of the blading will fade.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Leslie, thanks for reading our post and submitting your great comment. We agree regarding the overuse of black, that’s a great point! It’s very important that patients select an experienced microblading provider as the splaying out effect you described can be minimized. We have corrected some terrible work done by other less experienced beauticians!

      Thanks again,
      WD Staff

    • Allison says:

      Thank you for your comment I wish I had read it before I spent 245 for my Microblading not even into 2nd week and you cant even see the lines disappearing as the scabs fall off very disappointed

  4. LeeAnn says:

    I’d have to agree, I think microblading does look more natural compared to a tattoo. Also I like the fact that it fades so its not something that is forever. You can decide if you want to do it over again or go back to how it was before

    • Erika says:

      I have my eyebrows tattooed at 1/2 the coat ($325) and they are shaved and look 100% natural. The ink she used is for cosmetic tattooing and will not turn into any other color. My tattoo will last about 8 years, not 6 months or a year. She also used a numbing agent and it didn’t hurt at all. I highly recommend a tattoo as long as you have a good artist!

      • Irene says:

        Hello Erika,
        May I ask where did you get your eyebrows done. It’s hard to find someone who can do the tattoo. Seems like everyone only does the microblading.

  5. Julia says:

    Had my eyebrows tattooed around 18 months or so….. would like to try microblading , but not sure to get them tattooed again? any advice. any advice please.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Julia,

      Thanks for reading our post and submitting your comment! Microblading can be done post-tattoo, however we would have to see you for a consultation to determine if the treatment would align with your goals. If you are in the Austin area please give us a call at 512.328.3376. We can get you in the office for an assessment to determine which avenue will provide your desired end result.

      WD Staff

  6. Hazel says:

    That’s interesting that microblading uses a specialized pigment instead of tattoo ink so if fades into a lighter version of the color rather than a blue-green tint. This is good to know since I’ve been debating on doing microblading since I have really thin eyebrows but I’ve never liked the way tattoos look with they get older. Knowing that it’s a completely different ink than tattoos makes me think that I’d really like them since it would fade into a more natural color once it gets older.

  7. anna says:

    I had my brows tattooed years ago they have faded to a bluish color I would like to microblade over them with strokes a lighter brown and fuller as they are a little thin any feed back appreciated

  8. Elsa says:

    Great post. The semi-permanent vs permanent distinction is nice and helpful. Thank you for that!

  9. becky says:

    I didn’t realize there was a difference in the pigmentation.

  10. Cheryl says:

    I currently have eyebrow tattoos that have faded to a gray color. Is it true that I have to have eyebrow tattoos removed by lazering before I can get new Microblading?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks for reading our post and submitting your great question! Microblading can be done over a preexisting tattoo. However the results will only show if the old tattoo is significantly faded. So unfortunately the answer is “it depends”. Your best bet would be to get an in-person consultation with a provider who can determine if any further lightening of the tattoo would be necessary.

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  11. Louise says:

    I used keyword search “microblading Vs tattooing” to try gain some insight.

    I found this post to be extremely bias towards Microblading which didn’t really help me.

    I have had semi-perm eyebrow tattooing previously and it has now completely vanished, in the same way as microblading. So this is a false statement. Also, tattooing strokes are also completed as fine lines. Perhaps not as fine as microblading (that is true!). And, my eyebrows did not look like they’d been drawn on with a sharpie, this may be the result from a bad job with either of these techniques if using an inexperienced technician. It’s worth noting that just like a tattoo, there was some scabbing initially and it took a few weeks to get the true result. (My MB friends tell me it’s the same with MB).

    I have girlfriends who have had both procedures recently, and stood side-by-side both outcomes look great! They used experienced and qualified technicians whom designed their brows based on their full face structure, not what craze is ‘in’ at the moment. There are a lot of bad brows out there, so like me, take some time to research.

    I have heard that microblading causes scarring therefore you can only maintain for a couple of years. Hence keyword search “microblading Vs tattooing”.

    I will continue to research the potential ‘scarring’ issue as this was not mentioned in this post and I feel it’s an important factor! I’ll then make up my mind. So far though I am veering towards tattooing.

    Please do lots of research ladies 🙂 x

  12. WD Staff WD Staff says:

    Hi Louise,

    Thanks for reading our post and submitting your great comment. I think it will be helpful to people who come across this page and we definitely agree with you on the need for perspective patients to do their research.

    The post was written from our past experiences with ex-tattoo patients who were unhappy. We regularly correct issues to the point where we see eyebrow tattooing as inferior (which is why we do not offer the service). And because of the permanent nature of a tattoo many patients need to undergo some laser tattoo removal treatments in order to even be able to correct their brow tattoos, which is very disappointing to the patients.

    However, I’m sure there are talented eyebrow tattoo artists who disagree and see tattooing as superior. That’s understandable!

    All we can say is that an experienced microblading artist will be able to create great result that can last for long periods of time without the potential for scarring (in fact the potential for scarring is greater with a tattoo as it is more invasive). We believe it to be the best option which is the reason behind our post and our offering it.

    I hope you find the right treatment that will work best for you. Please let us know if you have any other questions on the microblading front.

    WD Staff

  13. Monica says:

    Can people with keloiding skin get microblading? I have several tattoos on my body and none of them have keloided. However, I’ve had minor surgeries that required stitches and I have keloided in those areas. My ear piercings have never keloided either.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Monica,

      Thanks for reading out post and submitting your great question! Scarring from microblading is very uncommon. However individuals with a high tendency for scarring in the past should definitely consult with a skilled microblading provider before having the treatment done. So even though microblading produces far less trauma to the skin than those ear piercings its still a good idea to talk this out with a provider before getting it done.

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  14. S says:

    I disagree and this sounds like a plug for Microblading. I had tatoo many many years ago and after fading the color was never green but a lighter shade of the original. I had tatoo a second time and the same. The only drawback of My tatoo experience was that one eyebrow faded a bit more.

    • Jamie says:

      I couldn’t disagree more, I did my brow tattoo a few years ago and it was terrible. Instantly after getting them done I wished I didn’t do it. I’ve had to undergo numerous removal treatments and now I do microblading regularly. I highly recommend going to microblading route, results are good!!!

  15. Donna says:

    I had eyebrow tattoos 2 yrs 7 months ago. They are Just beginning to fade away in small areas & tho I thought they were done Very well & were done with individual hair strokes , i’m considering micro blading . My ink did not turn any strange color and did ligbten with time. I am 73 & thinking perhaps microblading will look more subtle from the beginning. Any input on pros & con ? My con of micro blading would be the short time it lasts

  16. Jenn says:

    Good information about the eyebrows and mircoblading. thank you

  17. Faye says:

    Great post! I was hoping to share my recent post on what causes eyebrow loss with your community if you think its worthwhile. Visit https://www.hairphil.com/makeup-tattoo/3-things-you-might-not-expect-could-cause-eyebrow-hair-loss/

  18. Jacqueline says:

    I would have to disagree about the pain level in Microblading. Both myself and friends said it was excruciating., and that’s with numbing cream, to compare it with tweezing is ridiculous,

  19. Suzy says:

    I had MB last year and a follow up this year, I was left with very patchy thick dark brows nearly black, this year she wanted to add warmth but I can’t see this in the result they were still patchy and the strokes were quite thick and sparse, I have just had my first tattoo to remedy the MB and she has managed to soften the whole effect and the strokes are fine just like hair, she used two different inks and the ink will not go pink or blue. So after the experience of both I prefer the tattoo.also much less painful!

  20. Bala says:

    very nice article about Microblading vs Eyebrow Tattoo ,very detailed explained thanks for sharing .Very informative

  21. rachel says:

    I really wanted to do this but I’m afraid it will be painful /

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Rachel,

      We completely understand your concern, but we can assure you that the process of microblading is not painful especially when you go to a professional. If you do decide to take the plunge, we advise you to find a reputable provider!

      WD Staff

  22. Christia says:

    Hi, I’m very interested in microblaing. Any locations in the Philadelphia area? If so what is the estimated cost for total procedure for both session?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Christia,

      Thanks for reading this post and for your interest! Unfortunately all our locations are in Texas currently, however we hope to get out to Philadelphia and the east cost in the coming years!

      Until then we would encourage you to do your research and find a provider in your area that is reputable, properly licensed, and has experience. At the moment we do not have any relationships with providers in Phil, so we don’t really have a recommendation.

      But with some research we’re sure you’ll find someone great there!

      WD Staff

  23. Donna says:

    I recently had my brows microbladed and only because an established “facialist” was opening her salon and the incentive coupon was too good to pass on. While it has only been 4 days I am waiting for the color to soften. Also I am encouraged that if I get tired of the style I can change it eventually. I wish the tails were a bit higher so good to know. I have to say that it wasn’t painful (just about the same as tweezing) and it really looks like hairs! Cancer treatments left me browless so I am thrilled. I’ve spent so much money on pencils, pomades, gels, powders and the new “tat brow” products I should have done it long ago. I considered brow tattoos but have seen way too many that look unnatural and turned purple. So for now, I’m ecstatic with my new brows.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Awesome Donna, thanks so much for sharing your experience with our readers. That’s one of the big benefits of microblading, you can alter the brows until you get them just they way you like them. Most providers can also maintain a template once you find the perfect version to make future treatments easier.

      We definitely appreciate all your time in sharing with our community. We are glad to hear you are happy with your new brows!!!

      WD Staff

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