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Permanent Makeup vs. Microblading: What’s the difference?

You’ve been looking at this picture and despite how much you try, you just can’t see what’s really  that different between the two. No problem, we’re here to help.

Permanent makeup and microblading may seem like the same thing, but they are really quite different. Both are forms of cosmetic tattoo, a practice that has been around for many years and uses tattoo or pigmentation of the epidermis to produce makeup like results.

To anyone who doesn’t know much about it, cosmetic tattoo may seem like a vanity, but really, it transcends it — many people with alopecia, vitiligo, scars, baldness, genetic anomalies or cancer often resort to cosmetic tattoo to help them feel better about their appearance. Despite their differences, both procedures can help enhance someone’s physical appearance whatever the reason.

There are three main differences between permanent makeup and microblading:

  • Although permanent makeup is not “forever” permanent, it is more permanent than microblading, which can last up to 3 years, depending on the person.
  • Permanent makeup can be done on the eyes, lips, and brows. Microblading is solely for eyebrows.
  • Permanent makeup is done using an electrically powered machine very similar to those regular tattoo artists use.
  • Microblading uses a tool similar to an exacto knife that does not require batteries or electricity.

Let’s dive a little deeper into each one.

Permanent Makeup:

Permanent makeup, as it is most commonly referred to, is a form of cosmetic tattoo that uses needles and artistic tattoo machinery to implant dyes or pigments into the skin with the objective of enhancing facial features — most commonly eyeliners, eyebrows and lips. It is also possible to have permanent eyeshadow or blush, although these are far less common procedures. You might come across permanent makeup being referred to by several other names: intradermal pigmentantion, micropigmentation and permanent cosmetics.

Women are by far the main consumers of permanent makeup, although men also do it. Ever heard of scalp pigmentation? Anyways, most women chose to get permanent makeup to save time. Do the math! How long does it take you to apply your makeup every day? Permanent makeup means you wake up made up every morning and you have an extra 15-20 minutes free in your morning. It’s an easy choice for many makeup loving women.

Permanent makeup can be done in many styles and shapes. Some artists will use prefabricated stencils to determine the shape of the brow, which is not usually done by most experts because it stencils are not customized to the client’s face. Other permanent makeup artist spend a great deal of time measuring your eyebrows and determining the best shape for your face. In any case, with responsible and accredited estheticians, there is usually a consultation where the esthetician draws on several shapes and try different colors before the procedure to ensure the client is happy with the end product. The fill can be either solid, or in hair-strokes, which looks more natural.

While permanent makeup is just beginning to catch on in the United States, abroad permanent makeup is HUGE. Just do a quick Instagram search of #permanentmakeup, you’ll see what we’re talking about. There are 1.1 million posts.

It may be that it permanent makeup has been slower to catch on in the United States because of fears of it being “too permanent.” If you are a makeup enthusiast, you might be wary of sticking with a certain color or design, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you get your eyeliners done and you think you would like to change colors and designs depending on the occasion, you can start by getting a very soft line between the eyelashes to simply give your eyes a little added depth.

Although most people choose natural looking colors and designs for eyeliners, the end result depends on each person’s preferences and should not be used solely to judge whether a certain esthetician is good or bad.

As such, many people are afraid of permanent makeup because they immediately think of cringe-inducing eyebrows that look like they were drawn on by a 5-year-old with a sharpie. No one wants to have that on their faces permanently!

It is always the worst case scenarios that give something a bad reputation. But, permanent makeup is meant to look natural, and it is not as permanent as you would think. As always, it will vary from person to person, but it is likely that a client will need a few touch ups a few years after his or her procedure. Just how many years is hard to say.


Microblading has been exploding in popularity lately, and with reason! We have talked about the advantages of getting microblading on your eyebrows on this post before, and like permanent makeup, microblading is a cosmetic procedure meant to enhance the most important of your facial features: your eyebrows.

Perhaps one of the reasons microblading has been enjoying so much spotlight is that it is a relatively new technique, one that as opposed to permanent makeup is just semi-permanent, meaning it can last for up to 3 years, but after that, it will wear off. The reason it lasts less than permanent makeup is the hand tool that is used.

Where permanent makeup artists use an electrical machine similar to the ones regular tattoo artist use, microblading is just a hand tool with a fancy blade.

The hand tool allows the artist to make highly accurate superficial scrapes to the brow that follow the direction of the eyebrow hair.

It is important to note that while one of microblading’s major appeals is how natural it looks, permanent makeup artists have been achieving the same natural looking result for years, it all depends on the technique used to style the brows.


There are many online articles and videos on the internet that incorrectly call permanent makeup “microblading.” Hopefully by now you should be able to spot those inaccuracies and explain to your friends what the differences are and, if you’re interested in getting either microblading or permanent makeup, you should be able to know exactly what to ask for.

A good piece of advice: If it’s your first time getting a cosmetic tattoo, maybe you should start by getting eyebrow microblading. That way, you get a glimpse of what having perfect eyebrows 24/7 is like and you are not making a permanent commitment if it turns out you are not 100% pleased with the results. If, you are, however, ecstatic with your eyebrows, remember that if you got microblading and not permanent makeup, they will fade in time. For a second go, you could go with permanent makeup and the results will last longer than microblading.

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