Powder Brows: Your Guide To The Semipermanent Makeup Option

Eyebrows can often be the hardest part of your makeup routine, and it seems like there are so many different ways to get your brows in tip-top shape these days. From the less-than-permanent makeup brow products like gels, pomades, and brow shadows, to the more permanent and semipermanent ones like tattoos, microfeathering, and microblading – there are many options out there. But have you heard about one of the newer brow kids on the block? 

Powder brows are very much here. This technique has a few different names, as you may also know better as microshading or even ombre powder brows. But no matter what you call it, there's no doubt more and more people are turning to it to get dreamy brows. But what the heck actually is it? As permanent makeup artist Chloe Walsh described to Huda Beauty, "Powder brows [use] a digital machine, which allows soft pixels of color to be layered onto the brows to create the perfect shape, which results in more of a 'velvet' soft eyebrow powder look." 

But you probably still have questions about the whole thing. And that's where we come in. Here, we're breaking down everything you need to know about the powder brow movement, including what the process is actually like and why it's different from other semi-permanent makeup methods.

What exactly is the powder brow process?

The main selling point of powder brows is that it creates a softer, more natural effect than other semipermanent eyebrow methods. That means, of course, there's a different process to other eyebrow treatments on the market. But, just like other treatments, we'd still very much recommend having a consolation and patch test done first.

Powder brows are created via a few steps. After applying numbing cream, your eyebrow expert will create the brow shape you're looking for (they should discuss with you what you're looking for) and will then map out the brow. Next, any stray hairs will be removed and it'll be time to start filling in the brows with the shade you chose together. The color is placed onto the outer layers of the skin (it doesn't penetrate like a tattoo would) as tiny dots. More product is usually placed at the beginning of the brow, diffusing as it reaches the tail. This part will probably be repeated to fill in all gaps and make sure the brow is as strong (or not!) as you like. In some cases, a follow-up treatment may be scheduled around six to eight weeks later once the skin has healed to clean it all up.

How long the process takes will vary by person and depend on your natural brows, as well as the desired effect you want. On average though, you should expect the initial treatment to last around two hours.

Getting powder brows isn't the same as microblading, but you can combine the two

You'd be forgiven for getting powder brows and microblading mixed up, but there are some stark differences between the two you need to know before heading to the salon. We already know powder brows give a softer look, whereas microblading tends to make the brows look more intense and uses a different tool.

But you don't necessarily have to pick one or the other. It is in fact possible to combine powder brows with microblading to really get your brows in order. You may find your salon calls this either the combination or hybrid technique, as it involves aspects of both treatments. This creates a natural look with hair-like strokes at the front of the eyebrow and the powder technique throughout the rest.

The powder brow process also has some stark differences from a brow tattoo. The powder technique doesn't penetrate the skin as deep as an eyebrow tattoo would, which is why it's only semipermanent. Equally, it's a step up from eyebrow tinting. Tinting will only color your existing brow hairs, and won't give quite the same illusion of making them appear fuller with the addition of mock hairs. A tint will also only last between three and eight weeks.

It has benefits over other brow methods, too!

Of course, the big benefit of powder brows over other methods is how natural it can look as the final result appears as if it's been done with a powder. That's why it's perfect for those who want a more natural effect as that can't always be achieved with other methods. It also doesn't leave harsh lines on your brows during the healing process, due to the innovative dot application.

Equally, powder brows are a great option for people with sensitive skin, as it's not as invasive as other methods. Those with oily skin also tend to see better results than microblading because oil can struggle to hold the pigment and it fades faster. Plus, it's also a great option for people with thinning brows. That's because it gives the option to fill in sparse areas without looking out of place amidst any natural hairs.

But, like with many procedures, it's not for everyone. In fact, there are a few categories of people who will want to stay away from the powder brow chair. If you have a serious illness or are receiving treatment for a serious illness, are taking blood thinning medications, pregnant or nursing, have had Botox or fillers within a few weeks of the procedure, or have skin irritation, you'll want to speak to your doctor or brow professional first.

There's still aftercare to think about, as well

The powder brow after treatment is fairly similar to what's encouraged following a tattoo or microblading session, which includes keeping the area clean to avoid infection. As with a tattoo, many salons will provide you with aftercare products like ointment, as well as advice on how to keep the area clean as it heels. Just like with anything going onto the skin, there's always the chance of a reaction as well. People have been known to have irritation like redness, swelling, or itching occur. If any of these side effects occur, it's a good idea to contact your brow artist or doctor. Not to mention, some people can find the process painful (even with numbing cream applied) and may need more time to recover than others.

There are also a few expected side effects that may affect when a person wants to undergo a powder brow session. Scabbing usually takes place around three to five days after treatment, and can last anywhere up to two weeks. Therefore, it's recommended you leave at least two weeks before the session and any big events. It's also suggested to stay away from makeup, swimming, or exposure to the sun until the area is totally healed.

Powder brows can be pricey, but they will last a while

Hence the name, like the other leaders in the semipermanent brow world, powder brows won't last forever. How long you'll have more defined brows for will vary depending on things like skin type and how much your brows were filled in, but it's pretty standard for the effects to last between 12 and 18 months. When you need to head back for a top-up will vary, though Sabria Bullaku, owner of Brows & Beyond, recommends a touch-up to fix any fading ink after around 15 months.

Now into the big one. The price. And, we won't like, a brow treatment like this can be a little pricey. On average, a powder brow session will set you back around $600. Of course, though, the price you pay will depend on a few factors, including where you go, who you see, and exactly what you're hoping to achieve. Equally, your consultation and potential follow-up session may or may not cost you another fee depending on the salon you head to.