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Understand the Lingo of Permanent Makeup

New to cosmetic tattooing? It can be very confusing and overwhelming to anyone just starting out in the field of permanent makeup. There’s feather brows, microblading, HD brows, magic brows, ombre brows and a whole host of other names used to describe eyebrows. If you are having a hard time figuring out what it all means then you have come to the right place my friend!

After joining the college team 5 years ago I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of different terms there are just to describe eyebrows. I had no background in beauty therapy at all and had to learn my way around all these terms.

Well I’ve put together this handy glossary for anyone who is just starting out and feeling lost in a forrest of eyebrows. YOU’RE WELCOME 🙂

Microblading :

(pictured above) The process of cosmetic tattooing using a blade by hand. Small hair strokes are cut into the skin and pigment is used to penetrate into the upper layer of the dermis. This gives the appearance of brow hairs baking the eyebrow appear naturally fuller. It is a semi-permanent effect that gradually fades over 12-18 months.


Feather Touch :

This is a term often used to describe microblading. It is also referred to as eyebrow feathering.

Feathering :

As above. This is a popular term used to describe microblading.

Hairstroke :

This term refers to the lines made by microblading or cosmetic tattooing to mimic the appearance of natural brow hairs.

Microshading :

(pictured above) The process of cosmetic tattooing using a round cluster of nano-needles by hand. Rather than the hair stroke appearance created using microblading this method is used to shade a larger area of the brow for a more dramatic appearance.

The pigment is pushed into the upper layer of the dermis. As with microblading the result is semi permanent and will fade over 12-18 months.

It is a technique that can be used to achieve several different effects. It usually appears softer than other methods of shading.

Mist Brow :

This term refers to permanent makeup brow shading either by hand using micro shading or by tattoo machine. The effect looks similar to using a pressed powder to enhance the eyebrows.

Powder Brow :

Powder brows have the same appearance as mist brows. They can be dramatic or natural in appearance depending on the application and desired results. They tend to have a softer appearance than other styles but this depends on the application.

Magic Brow :

(pictured above) A very specific type of eyebrow shading. Generally it is stronger and more defined on the lower brow edge and softer on the upper brow edge.

It can be executed using either machine or manual micro shading techniques

Brow Mapping :

This term refers to the process of finding the natural shape of the brow according to the clients face shape. There is a standard set of rules that are followed to easily find the correct shape. There are many tools on the market that can be used to assist in brow mapping but actually all you need is a brow pencil.

6d Brows :

This is a buzz word that is often used for marketing eyebrow microblading and permanent makeup. It refers to the hairstroke effect created by both microblading and cosmetic tattooing. The same definition applied to HD Brows, 3d Brows, & any other variation on this theme.

Ombre Brows :

(pictured above) This term is another specific type of eyebrow shading. The brows are darkest on the outer edge or tail of the brow and gradually lighten towards the centre/nasal bridge. This is a very specific and dramatic looking style of brow. It is often combined with the hair stroke technique for a full lush look.

W brow Cosmetic Tattooing

W Brow – aka M Brow :

W brow, or M brow is a type of brow design that is only possible to create with a cosmetic tattoo machine. It is a hyper realistic brow that replicates the appearance of natural hairs. Unlike more traditional PMU designs it often uses up to 3 colours to create a 3 dimensional brow with soft edges. 

Brow Laminating :

(pictured above) This has nothing to do with covering school folders! Brow laminating uses a process similar to a lash lift. It refers to the process of perming the brow hair into a set direction/shape. It often also involves tinting the hair to enhance its appearance. Results last usually a month or two.

Combination Brows :

(pictured above) Combination brows are were multiple techniques and effects are used to create a custom brow for the client. By combining techniques you can accommodate for each clients brows and create a naturally enhanced look. In the ecample above you can clearly see microblading at the start of the brow that transitions to shading on the middle and tail of the brow.

Touch Up :

This term refers to the follow up appointment after the clients brows have healed from the first treatment. There may be some uneven results or excess pigment loss caused by the healing process. A touch up session is performed to perfect the results and correct any mistakes from the first treatment.

Eyebrow Threading :

(pictured above) Threading is a process of removing unwanted hair. It is an alternative to waxing. A twisted cotton thread is used to catch the hairs and remove them from the root. This method allows for a great amount of precision and is often used for brow shaping by professionals. It is also used to remove unwanted hair from other areas of the face/body.

Eyebrow Waxing :

(pictured above) Waxing is a form of hair removal that uses a sticky wax. The wax is applied to the areas of skin with unwanted hair. It adheres to the hairs and is allowed to dry or harden for a short period of time. The wax is then removed in a fast motion – taking the hairs with it.

Pigment :

(pictured above) The word pigment refers to any type of colour. In this context it is the ink that is used to colour the brows.

Diluent :

Diluent is a special fluid which can be used to dilute the pigments viscosity. Microblading pigments are formulated to be thicker than pigments that are used for cosmetic tattooing. Cosmetic tattoo artists can use diluent to thin out the microblading pigment, making it more suitable for cosmetic tattooing applications.

Sealer :

Sealer is an antibacterial serum that is applied to fresh cosmetic tattooing or microblading immediatelly after treatment. It often contains almond oil, coconut oil, and other hydrating properties as well as an alcohol content to steralise the new tattoo. Some artists will use bepanthen instead of sealer.

Pigment Retention :

Pigment retention is referring to the amount of pigment that is remaining in the skin once the healing process is complete. Good pigment retention looks similar to immediately after the first application. Poor pigment retention will appear patchy and require more work during the touch-up process to correct.

Pigment Implantation (or absorbtion) :

Pigment implantation or pigment absorption is referring to how well or easily the clients skin takes the pigment. Some skin types are more receptive to PMU pigments and others require more attention and care to implant the pigment into the skin.

Dermograph :

A dermograph is the handpiece that is used to perform cosmetic tattooing. It may have a power supply inside the handpiece or it may connect to an external power supply or control unit. The dermograph holds needle/cartridge and drived the needle up and down.

Practice Skin :

(pictured above) Also called practice leather, latex, fake skin, or silicone skin. Practice skin is used during the learning process of tattooing and cosmetic tattooing. It is a flat or shaped piece of silicone that is designed to simulate working on real skin. It comes in many styles and shapes for different practice areas. Practice skins are usually made from either latex or rubber and some are designed to be used without pigment.

Hopefully if you’ve made it to the end of this article you have found the information you were looking for. If I’ve missed any words that you have been looking for please leave me a comment below and I’ll add it into my list. Who knew that eyebrows would one day be so important?

Related Courses :

COURSE 1 : Microblading

A comprehensive 2 day beginners Microblading course.

Microblading David Brow


Choose from one of our 4 training packages.

Softliner Course

COURSE 8 : Hyaluron Pen

Our intensive one day course in the application of Needle Free Fillers.

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