Ombré Shading: Why This New Brow Trend Might Be Better Than Microblading

Instagram: Becca Tilley

A Hollywood brow expert answers all our questions about the latest brow craze -- ombre shading.

Brows. Brows. Brows

If you’re obsessed with brows like us, you know the pain of filling in your arches daily with every product imaginable from pencils to pomade. With that said, you've probably dabbled in or at least heard of microblading -- the semi-permanent eyebrow tattoo that adds hair-like strokes to your brows to help you cut back on time spent on filling them in. 
The word is there’s a newer technique that’s superior to microblading -- ombré shading. 

Let me start off by saying that after an entire year of extensive research and mulling over whether to microblade, I finally decided to try a "combo brow" -- a mix of microblading and ombré shading.  My brows were super thin from over-plucking in high school and no amount of castor oil or brow serums helped them grow fully back. 

Christina Son

I went to who I believe is one of the best cosmetic tattoo artists in the business: Christina Son of Sugarin Studio in the Los Angeles area. She's worked on celebs like Jodie Sweetin, Becca Tilley, Scheana Shay and other celebs she couldn't disclose.  I loved my new brows so much, I asked her if she could answer many of the questions I had ahead of time -- for our ET Style readers!

When I posted my before and after on Instagram, a lot of people also had tons of questions. Did it hurt? How much did it cost? How is it different than microblading?  How long does it last? Etc. Etc. Etc.  

Below, check out everything you need to know about the new technique -- and see if ombré shading might be a good option for you to consider.

ET: What exactly is ombre shading and what makes it different from microblading?

Christina Son: Ombré shading is the newest trend in eyebrow semi-permanent makeup. It gives a soft shaded brow pencil look. Once healed, it is more natural looking than solid color. It gives great definition and depth to the brows. Whether the client is looking for a light soft shading or show-stopping bold brows, it can be customized according to the client's desire.  

Microblading consists of individual hair-like strokes that mimic the natural hair of eyebrow as opposed to a penciled look. The results are lighter compared to shading and unfortunately not every skin type is good for microblading. The beauty of shading is that it can be combined with microblading to achieve a realistic look.

In what ways would you say it’s a better technology?

Shading technique is versatile as the technique can be performed alone as well as combining with microblading whether the client is looking for a subtle or bold brow. The retention and healing results tend to be better in comparison to microblading. In addition, clients with certain skin types are not the best candidates for microblading, whereas shading works on all skin types.   

Walk us through your whole process and how long it takes to get done. 

Before making an appointment, the client should carefully read over the information regarding the procedure, including precare and aftercare as there are contradictions.  Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible for semi-permanent makeup. In addition, timing is very important as you will go through some healing phases, therefore, if you are planning to go on a sunny vacation, have facial treatments prebooked, or have special events planned, you may want to book your appointment accordingly.

On the day of the procedure, we will have a consultation and discuss your desired brows. Followed by consultation, I begin drawing the shape of your brows to build a frame. We work together for shaping, styling and color selection. The client will have the opportunity to see shape and color before doing any actual shading work. Once all is approved, we proceed with shading of the brows. For the client's comfort, I usually provide a small mirror to the client so they can see the progress.        

The appointment usually takes approximately two to three hours. If it's a combo (microblading and shading), the appointment may take a little longer.

Christina Son


When I did the procedure, I did both blading and shading. What are the benefits to a “combo” brow?

The combination of both microblading and shading are becoming very popular. This is fantastic for someone who is looking for hair-like texture, definition and density. Clients with very thin and sparse eyebrows, including those who have suffered from hair loss caused by cancer, alopecia, thyroid, et cetera can greatly benefit from this combo to achieve a realistic look. Depending on the circumstances, microblading alone can look too light. By incorporating some shading, the client can get the density as well as hair strokes from microblading. This combo method is also a better option for an individual with oily skin as microblading alone is not best suited for oily skin types. The constant oil production can cause the hair strokes to heal powdery and diffused.   

Who is a good candidate for ombré shading?

Much like microblading, a good candidate should not have a serious health and skin condition. As a precaution, we do not perform the procedure on pregnant or nursing women. Fortunately, this technique is fantastic for all skin types, including oily.      

On average, how long does the ombré shading last?

It can last from one to three years. The retention depends on a number of factors, including skin type, lifestyle, health condition, sun exposure, et cetera.  

Does it hurt?

The pain level varies from person to person. A medical grade topical anesthetic will be used for numbing before and during the procedure to make the clients feel comfortable and as pain-free as possible.  

How many different colors are offered? Are certain hair-color types better than others?

I use a couple of brands for shading that I love. At times, I also mix colors to best match the client's desire, skin tone and brow color. Some colors fade quicker than others. The lighter the pigment, the faster it will fade. For blondes, in particular, it is best to go a little darker for better retention.   

Are there risks?

To avoid any risk of harming your skin, it is encouraged that you research and find an artist who is skilled and trained in semi-permanent makeup/cosmetic tattoo. It is also important to strictly follow the guidelines given to you by your artist including precare and aftercare for the health of your skin and to avoid any chances of infection.  

What is the aftercare like?

It is essentially relaxing and do nothing! For best-healed results, the client should avoid working out, sweating, any makeup around the brows for at least two weeks. Most importantly, it is important not to pick at the scabs/dry skin. The scabs need to shed naturally. It is also recommended to stay out of heavy sun exposure and avoid any facial treatments throughout the healing process. After the procedure, the client will be given an aftercare ointment to be applied two to three times a day after washing the treated area. It is very important to keep your newly shaded brows as clean as possible.     

Could you explain the process of healing? I wasn't sure what it was supposed to look like -- ie. scabbing off, peeling. What should someone expect after one week, two weeks, three weeks – up until your follow-up appointment?

Immediately following the procedure, your brows will appear darker and bolder. This is the initial healing process and it can last up to a week or a little longer. During the second week, you can expect some scabbing or flaking of the skin in pieces. It is very important not to pick or peel at the scabs as you need to allow the scabs/dry skin to come off naturally on its own to prevent scarring and premature pigment loss. Unfortunately, the scabbing is not the most glamorous stage while healing. The scabbing period varies from person to person. Generally, all scabs are shed approximately by the end of the second week. Once the scabs have fallen off, the brows will appear softer and lighter. The complete healing process takes about six weeks at which time the true color and density of the brows are clearly revealed. During the follow-up touch-up, adjustments can be made.       

How long should one wait for their follow-up/touch-up? Is it mandatory? Included with first service?

The follow-up touch-up is usually within six to eight weeks and it's included with the initial session. It is highly recommended that the client takes advantage of the complimentary touch-up as the healing results cannot be guaranteed. During the touch-up, we can add more definition and/or density and make other adjustments as necessary.  

On average, how much does ombré shading cost?

It can range from $500 to $1,000 with or without follow-up touch-up.

*This Q&A was conducted over email.