There’s a long-running debate over whether or not microblading is permanent or semi-permanent, and there are valid arguments on both sides. The simple answer to this hot topic is really dependant on the angle you approach it. For this reason, we’re going to look at it from both sides of the coin.
Our skin comprises of three primary layers. The first is the Epidermis which is the outer, waterproof layer which could also be considered to be a protective barrier. The Epidermis is renewable and sheds each month or so, depending on age and skin types. Thereafter, beneath the epidermis is the Dermis. This contains your connective tissues and hair follicles and like anything under the Epidermis, it’s a live organ. If you dig deeper, you’ll find the subcutaneous tissue which is also known as the hypodermis. This is made up of fat and connective tissues & what should be obvious by now is that it’s also a living organ.
Why do some artists consider microblading to be semi permanent?
There are two considerable differences between a traditional tattoo and microblading which lead to the debate on permanency. One is down to the depth of the implanted pigment and the other is owing to the type of pigments used.
When a microblading artist performs the techniques correctly, the incision and pigment are implanted into the very top of the Dermis layer of your skin. It really must only scratch the surface. If the pigments penetrate deeper into the dermis layer it’s, without doubt, a tattoo. If it hits the subcutaneous tissue it’s also a tattoo, albeit not a great one, and subject to very disagreeable and disastrous discolouration and migration.
Because of the depth of pigment implantation with microblading, pigment fading will occur, to nigh on insignificance which is why microblading is considered to be semi-permanent. But why the fading to insignificance with microblading and less so with a tattoo?
It’s all down to Macrophages.
Macrophages are types of white blood cells of your immune system. Their job is to police your body for foreign objects and eat up all the trash and waste. Macrophages will identify pigments as just that and gradually absorb them, thereafter dispersing around your body. The deeper the tattoo, the longer they take to work. So, like a regular tattoo that fades over time… Microblading is no different, only the process is quicker and much more noticeable.
Moving over to the second reason microblading is considered to be semi-permanent and differs from a traditional tattoo – pigments.
There is a somewhat fine yet also vast contrast between the pigment types used in tattooing and microblading. In a nutshell, cosmetic makeup pigment particles are smaller than that of traditional tattoo ink. Because of this, the result is a softer colour that can be layered but it will also fade – a lot. With tattoo inks, they are decidedly more concentrated. Couple that with the depth of pigment implant and you’re left with a stronger, bolder colour that’s not only richer in clarity, but will take a deeper hold under the skin and make for a bigger mouthful for your macrophages to eat up.
Why do other artists argue that microblading is permanent?
If you search anywhere on the net you’ll find ads for microblading. The claim is that those pigments will disappear after a year or so. This means that your semi-permanent brows can be either left to natures devices and return to your previous ones – or be redone. To an extent, this is actually true. The pigment can fade to a visual zero and thereafter, you choose.
However, once pigment hits the dermis level of your skin, it is trapped. And once it’s trapped underneath the skin, the process itself becomes an indelible one scientifically.
Now, that doesn’t mean to say it is visible, but it is still going to leave traces of pigment particles permanently trapped underneath the Epidermis, or outer layer, of your skin. Therefore, it’s permanent.
If we delve further into this, we need to go back to the physiology of the skin. The top layer, or Epidermis, of your skin is the only layer that is not “living”. The Epidermis renews itself every 27 to 28 days yet that process will change dependant on age. The minute you go in deeper, you go down to a living organ. For this reason, if you break the Epidermis level and attack the Dermis or subcutaneous it leaves a sign. You only need to look at a scar to get how this works. Is implanting ink any different to this?
When microblading takes place, it has to hit the Dermis layer, otherwise the process is just makeup, nothing more, nothing less, so what could possibly be the upshot of it all?
In essence, it’s true that scientifically, it’s a no-brainer. Microblading is permanent. It’s a process whereby pigments are implanted into a living organ that traps the said pigments under a waterproof layer, meaning they can’t get out. However, cosmetically, given it fades into insignificance it has to be deemed as semi-permanent as it (should) disappears to beyond a trace.
Your skin type is a factor. Microblading is widely publicised as the cosmetic procedure that fades, and in the majority of cases it does just that. However, not everyone’s skin is the same. There are absolutely no guarantees that the treatment will actually fade completely just like you’ve no guarantees that it won’t oxidise if inorganic pigments are used. Not everyones macrophages work the same.