Erin Under the Microblade

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Hair and makeup trends are always changing, and eyebrows are no exception.

Like a lot of women, I plucked mine into oblivion in the 1990s. Actually, I didn’t pluck mine--a friend did, after convincing me that my current look wasn’t a good one. I’ve been using stencils, pencils, and powders ever since, trying to recreate what God gave me.

I’ve considered permanent makeup, but the effect is often Sharpie, not subtle. Last year, I heard about microblading. Dr. Heidi Koch says people are obsessed with it and that’s why she brought it to the Spa at West Glen. "Microblading is relatively new to the U.S. but it’s been in other countries for actually quite a long time,” she explains. "It's a semi-permanent technique for eyebrow tattooing.”

Jessica Schroeder was the first guinea pig last fall. "I was like, uhh, I don't know,” she says with a grin.

The technique creates incredibly realistic-looking results, and meeting Jess convinced me to go under the knife.

It’s still unnerving, particularly because I know permanent makeup artist Terrie Wilson is going to be cutting into my skin. Her first step is applying numbing cream, which eases my fear about pain.

Most permanent makeup artists will tell you the next step is the most important one. Terrie uses a ruler to find the right starting and ending points for my new brows, and stencils to create an outline.

It’s hard to envision the finished product, but I trust Terrie to recreate what my overzealous friend destroyed decades ago. Using old pictures as a reference, she starts using her blade. It doesn’t take long for her to get in the zone, and slice after slice, my new brows start to take shape.

Dr. Koch has advice for people considering any type of permanent makeup. "The biggest thing is you want to have someone who's experienced, because it’s a very fine touch."

That’s why Terrie’s resume is important--she’s been doing permanent makeup for more than a decade. But microblading is very different from a traditional tattoo. Artists like Terrie use a hand-held tool, instead of a machine, to place pigment where they want it. A tattoo gun pushes ink through about seven layers of skin, whereas the teeny, tiny blade cuts into just three layers.

"Any time you break the skin bleeding, bruising, and infection are always possibilities,” says Dr. Koch.

That’s why patients get a list of very specific pre- and post-procedure instructions. It’s important to follow them and make sure you’re going to a reputable business.

"There are rules and regulations for everything that we do,” says Dr. Koch, “we are licensed and certified and that’s to keep patients and us safe.”

The process is tedious and sometimes bloody, and Terrie is meticulous. For some clients, she only has to take her blade back and forth a few times, but for me, it’s a lot more. The entire process takes more than two hours.

The final result is pretty amazing.

You can see some photos and videos of my brows over the course of the past several weeks on my Facebook page, and I’m going to be taking your questions on Tuesday over the noon hour during a Facebook live conversation.