Mel's Microblading Lessons!
As I mentioned a little while back, I finally got it together and asked Ashley to do my brows. They’re in process right now and once they are all done, you’ll totally be seeing before and after photos.
In the meantime though, I thought I’d share some photos of the process as well the answers to the questions I asked before I decided I was was comfortable letting someone TATTOO MY FACE. I trust Ashley implicitly, but I still had to do little bit of research before getting started. Because IT'S MY FACE. And it’s (semi) permanent.
Here are the questions I asked in advance as well as some things I learned along the way:
Tattoo guns are not involved.
At this point we probably all already know this, but for anybody who’s just researching this for the first time...yes, microblading is actually a tattoo, but all that means is that the skin is opened up and pigment is inserted. The microblading hand tool looks more like a pen than a tattoo gun - i.e. it’s a lot less scary.
Microblading is semi-permanent.
This isn’t the same as the daisy I had tattooed on my lower back when I was sixteen. And before you judge me for that…this was twenty years ago, before tattoos were mainstream and lower back tats were cliche. BTW I have the coolest mom ever for making that my 16th birthday present. Sorry! Back to brows...because microblading only penetrates the top layers of skin it will last for anywhere from 2-4 years, at which point I’ll have to go back for a touch up. I’m cool with that. I’d rather go back to re-up my brows than have them there forever and ever. I feel like I have more control that way.
Yes, the brows will be symmetrical.
This one really freaked me out. Again, because…FACE. But as soon as I saw that fancy eyebrow measuring tool, I relaxed. Height, length, distance from the center of my face, angle, everything was measured before any tattooing began, as well as during the microblading process.
From start to finish the first appointment took about two hours.
Here’s how it went:
She numbed me up and I looked like a wannabe Karate Kid.
We talked, she stared, she drew. I laid down and she went to work. Probably about 30 minutes per brow. And no, it didn’t hurt. The numbing cream is pretty awesome.
I’ll need a touch-up.
I go back under the needle next week, once my skin has healed completely and Ashley can see what needs to be adjusted. I’ve got plenty of "regular" tattoos, and I expected the healing process to be pretty similar to all of those. I was wrong. I think because microblading doesn’t penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin, it’s harder for the skin to retain the pigment. I mean, that’s why it’s only semi-permanent to begin with, right? Anyway, this is exactly why there’s a second appointment built into the service. A little bit of pigment loss is expected and the follow up will take care of that.
Aftercare is key.
There are quite a few pieces to the aftercare puzzle. The most difficult thing for me was sleeping. I’m a belly sleeper so adjusting my sleeping habits while my brows healed was exasperating. But I figured it out. The other components to aftercare were keeping my brows dry for a few days, keeping the skin moist, and not letting anything touch them.
Dry brows weren’t too difficult. I adjusted my showering routine and that took care of that. Keeping my animals away from my face was a little more challenging, but easy enough to manage. I had my liner touched up at the same time my brows were done, so my lids were a little bit sore. This made it easy to remember there was something going up there. We’ll see how well I avoid animal kisses to the face without the lids as a reminder.
Keeping my skin moist wasn’t difficult. However, I do think that I probably pressed too hard while applying my ointment and that may be why the pigment faded a little bit more than I expected. Oh well. That’s what the touch up appointment is for.
I just had to come to terms with looking a little silly for a few days.
The pigment oxidizes and becomes much darker than the end result will be. I had to keep ointment on my eyebrows so that the skin didn’t dry out. And I couldn’t wear eye make up.
Plus I’m special. And of course my eyebrows are too. And by special I mean challenging. While I wanted the shape of my brows to be improved, I am certainly not someone who needs additional hair strokes added in to make them appear thicker. In fact, if Ashley had ONLY used the microblading technique, there would be a very noticeable difference between my own brows and the tattoo.
So, I get a combination brow. She basically made a solid base to microblade over. The solid base is created using a technique called SofTap. Same process and aftercare as microblading but instead of inserting the pigment in lines to mimic hairstrokes, its inserted as lots of little dots, close together. It will create the illusion of thickness and then the hairstrokes go on top.
I share this with you for two reasons. One, because I’ve been using the term microblading, as that’s what we all think of when we think eyebrows. But I actually had SofTap done to me this time. I’ll be microbladed next time. And two because SofTap creates a much bolder brow to begin with, which leads me to this photo.
I had very dark, very defined, very shiny brows. I looked like one of those Angry Birds.
(But it only lasted a few days. Now the pigment really matches my natural brow color and the lines have softened a lot. Probably by about 50% if not more.)
I wish I had done it sooner!
Now that things have healed, and even though they aren’t complete yet, I love the look of these new brows. They make me feel prettier and more put together without having to do a thing. I can’t wait to show you guys the final product!
Here's To Soulmates!
I always felt “wrong." I didn’t even realize it until I was well into adulthood. I was constantly guilt-tripping myself into caring about things I didn’t actually care about. Into doing things I didn’t really want to do. Into believing things I never really believed. I felt so out of place and I assumed it was because I was doing something wrong. I believed I just didn’t understand the world around me and I needed to work harder to do so. It was exhausting.
It wasn’t until I met Tyler that I learned it was actually okay to be different. He is a little quirky, so he made it okay for me to be a little quirky, and when I realized that he was attracted to the quirky instead of turned off by it, a whole new world opened up for me.
I’m going to use a Grey’s Anatomy reference here and say that he was like needing glasses. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this clip. It’s actually a really cool analogy. For the sake of clarity I'm not coming out as a lesbian. There was just no way to cut this clip after the leaves part and play only the relevant section without violating a bunch of Youtube rules.
Meeting the man who is now my husband changed me, for the better! Tyler and I are similar in some ways, but for the most part we’re pretty different. He has worked to understand me over the years (and vice versa). At this point he can sometimes tell what I’m going to do even before I know it (and vice versa). He knows me so well. And I love him, and I really think he’s amazing (and hopefully vice versa, right?!).
But Ashley is my soulmate.
I had a conversation with my mom the other day. I expressed concern over a mutual friend's constant thanking me. I told her I thought it was sad that he felt so grateful for actions I consider to be simple, basic, and exactly what he deserves. I don’t believe thanks are required, and it hurt my heart that he felt the need to say it, as if he didn’t believe he deserved my time and attention. Mom told me I was overthinking it. She was probably right. She said that saying “thank you,” for everything, is simply this person’s preferred way to share his feelings of appreciation. Makes sense. (Moms are really good at putting things in perspective. Especially mine.)
In passing I mentioned this person to Ashley, and I told her that he thanked me for doing something I deemed an obvious “duh, of course I’m going to help you with that,” kind of thing. She commented EXACTLY as I did. That’s so sweet, but it makes me sad that he feels he has to thank you for it.
Nobody, not Tyler, not my mom, not any of this person’s other friends thought about it like that. But Ashley did. It made me feel so…relieved, pleased, less crazy?? I don’t know, exactly. Actually now that I think about it, I do. It made me relax.
She knows what I’m going to do before I do it, not because she’s worked to understand me, but because it’s what she would do, too. Do you know how refreshing that is for someone who feels as though she has always had to explain herself to everyone?
With this friend, for the first time in my life, I feel truly understood.
That is not to take away from all of the incredible people in my world who have worked to accept and understand me. Or from those for whom accepting and understanding isn’t work at all, it’s just how they roll. It’s easy for someone who thinks the way I do to get on board. It’s harder for someone who sees the world differently to be there anyway. So there’s something very special to those relationships as well, and I truly cherish them.
But for someone like me, someone who seems to have a take on life that’s slightly off-center, someone who looks at things a little bit differently...it’s like I’ve found myself in finding this friend. Meeting someone else so much like me has grounded me, built my confidence, and helped me learn to trust myself. These are things I kind of knew I needed in an abstract way, but never understood the power they would wield until I felt them first-hand.
Here’s another cool thing - feeling more grounded and being more confident has allowed me to just be myself. No facades, no going with the flow just because it’s easier, no pretending to care about things I really don’t, and no guilt about all of the above. (Okay, okay. Less guilt. Because old habits die hard. I’m working on it!) And you know what happened as I made that shift? I was able cultivate even MORE friendships with people who make me feel grounded and confident instead of the opposite. It’s a beautiful thing.
Perhaps if I'd had a sister, or just one friend on the same wavelength as me when I was younger, meeting Ashley as an adult wouldn't have been quite so impactful. But that's not what happened. And I'm here now, making it seem like friend is my lesbian lover. Which she's not, for anyone who's curious. Sorry if that disappoints you. She's simply my person and I can't imagine life without her.
So here’s to soulmates. I hope that everyone reading this has at least one of them. ♥
I'm Definitely The Bleep.
So there’s a reason our podcast is called Beauty and The Bleep. And I’m pretty sure it’s not difficult to figure out which one I am. It’s not just that I can curse like a sailor without thinking twice, but it’s also because I’m certainly not what most people think of when they think “Beauty.”
This has more to do with personality and mindset than physical attributes. First, I’m clumsy as hell and grace has just never been my strong suit. This week I hit myself in the face with the phone receiver at work so hard that I ended up with a bruise under my eye. I don’t even know how that happened. I waddle, I don’t walk. It’s because my thighs need to move around each other with each step. Plus I’m the girl who can trip over her own two feet while stone cold sober.
Add to it that I’m not a makeup girl. Unless there’s some big event looming in front of me, my make-up routine lasts three minutes, max. I'm not a person who gets up in the morning and does her hair. In fact, I realized on the fourth day of my recent vacation that I hadn’t brushed my hair since the day I arrived. Heck, I'm not even a person who feels the need to shower every single day. For the record I DID shower on vacation, daily. We were in Florida. It was hot and I was sweaty.
See, hadn’t brushed my hair. I went looking for my brush before we left and found it buried under all of the cute clothes I brought but never bothered to put on.
In general though, as long as I look fairly presentable and I don't smell, I’m usually pretty okay with it.
When Ashley suggested I give eyelash extensions a try, I laughed. “That’s SO not me,” I thought. But she was starting her business and she needed the practice, so I figured she could use my eyelashes as test dummies. No big deal. Then, as I considered it more, I thought about why I’m not a “makeup" girl or a "do my hair" girl. It’s not because I don’t care or because I don’t enjoy how I look once I’m done. Truly, I love feeling pretty. I just don’t love it as much as I love my extra half hour of sleep, my morning meditation routine, or spending time with my favorite men (aka my husband, my dog, and my cat). Typically I just don’t feel like putting the effort in. But when I do, I relish the results.
So, maybe lash extensions didn’t deserve the eye roll that was my knee jerk reaction. And then she put them on me and I felt like a whole different person. Waking up and looking pretty without having to do anything (and yes, eyelash extensions do have that kind of power) was f***ing amazing.
From there, and for the same reason, I had my eyeliner done as well. Again, I loved the results. Now on the days that I don’t feel like thinking about makeup (which is often), I at least look a little more presentable. Plus, that’s an extra 60-90 seconds of sleep I can get!
While the eyebrow trend has grown and grown over the past few years, I’ve sat in my little bubble and wondered what the big deal was all about. I was "blessed" with some pretty bushy eyebrows. Please enjoy this glamor shot circa 1996 as it is the best photo I can find to show off my caterpillars.
Due to some recent thyroid issues, some over-plucking issues in college, and probably just age in general, they have thinned out quite a bit since my 20’s; however, I never really considered microblading, even with The Beauty in my life, because in my head I was still the girl who had to control the mess growing above her eyes.
Then I had a make-up trial for my wedding and the first thing my make-up artist did was fill in my eyebrows. I looked like a whole new person immediately.
I called Ashley that day and told her I finally understood what she was doing with her life, and that now I knew I needed to have my brows done, too.
One of the things that I love about my friend, is that she is very realistic. She didn’t just jump right in and start microblading. She insisted that I think about it. As a self-proclaimed eyebrow-ignorer, she wanted to make sure that I’d be comfortable transitioning into the the upkeep required, however minimal it might be (i.e. plucking the areas not tattooed, coming in for my follow up appointment, and eventually touch ups, too). I think she wanted to be sure that my enthusiasm for her semi-permanent technique wasn’t semi-permanent.
I've spent a few months filling my brows in to confirm that yes, this is something that I actually want to do. At this point I’m pretty obsessed with them - I feel like such a different person when I take the time to pencil them in - and am patiently waiting for my appointment.
Please, people. Stay tuned because I can’t wait to show you the finished product! Maybe I’ll even have her do my lashes again so I can literally roll out of bed this summer and say “I woke up like this!"