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A Definitive History of Microblading

Ever wondered where microblading gets its roots? We dug into the archives to find its short, yet exciting, backstory.

While the act of depositing pigment into the skin (tattooing, for all intents and purposes) has been around for thousands of years (you’ve heard about the ancient Egyptians, right?), microblading as it is known today is a relatively new practice.

It first gained traction in Asia about 25 years ago, which is still home to a lot of the industry’s innovations. But it did not always have a name; instead it had a slew of de facto names. You may have heard it called “microstroking”, “micro-feathering” (or just plain “feathering”), “eyebrow tattooing”, “the Japanese method”, “eyebrow embroidery” or more. This list really does go on, especially as new techniques develop.

In this short amount of time, microblading became popular on the other side of the world: here, in the United States.

Women (and men!) all over the world quickly fell in love with this procedure! It drastically reduces the the need for makeup (meaning you get to sleep in because you #wokeuplikethis). It is an overall confidence-booster. Not to mention, the results are hyper-realistic; gone are the days of block-style tattooed brows now that talented technicians can create semi-permanent and believable hair strokes directly in the first layer of skin.

At the same time, microblading’s 1- to 3-year lifespan makes it the ideal option for clients who like to change their look as trends come and go.

A recognized leader in the permanent makeup industry, the term microblading is said to have been coined by Dr. Linda Dixon after she began her career in 1979.

When Europeans got wind of microblading’s success, the number of training facilities rose exponentially. The procedure gained immense popularity on that front, and Europeans began emulating the work of Asian and American technicians. Now, microblading is a common practice throughout the West.

In fact, 2015 saw the term “microblading” outperform “permanent makeup” in Google searches for the first time, according to Microblading Los Angeles. Perhaps we have modern-day influencers and bloggers to thank for that.

YouTube personality Polina Bergova (also known as pbbunny97) frequently mentions her experience with microblading on the web. Similarly, notable celebrities, such as Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy), Aino Jawo (Icona Pop), Bella Thorne and Lorde, have all publicly endorsed the procedure at various studios–including ours.

A few months ago Vice’s Grant Stoddard (aka the Yes Man) paid our studio a visit and documented the whole thing via Snapchat (and later wrote an in-depth article).

Now, a search for the hashtag #microblading on Instagram yields over 4 million results. Many brow artists use this outlet as a means of sharing their work (side note: follow us @eye_design_ny and @nadia_afanaseva!) with the world. After all, it has proven itself an extremely effective advertising platform.

Despite its short history, microblading has seen so many innovations and improvements. Because eyebrow hairs frequently cross in real life, techs once incorporated crossing hairs into their designs. Nowadays most studios teach their aspiring techs NOT to do this. Not only is it painful and injurious to the client, the results aren’t as realistic as one would expect. I teach my technicians to never do this!

What’s on the horizon? Eye Design has a few ideas up its sleeve, and we are looking forward to creating history.

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Nadia Afanasyeva, founder of Eye Design New York Studio, is an award-winning trainer with more than 10 years of experience in the beauty industry. Her work is recognized in the United States and abroad.

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  • Russian championship winner in eyelash extension.
  • Author of Kim’s Effect Technique for Eyelash Extensions.
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  • Trained more than 5,000 students.
  • Completed more than 12,000 beauty treatments with clients.
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