beauty

"I tried Urban Decay's new microblading pen to see if it lives up to the hype."

Ask any beauty blogger on Instagram what the secret is to consistently fabulous brows, and they’ll likely answer the same thing: microblading.

The expensive semi-permanent tattoo procedure sees a trained brow technician use a blade to etch micro-cuts into your skin before going over the area with ink. The result is feathery, full and defined brows with absolutely no work needed on your part.

Looking at photo after photo of perfectly microbladed brows on Instagram can be tempting, but the thing that puts most people off is the price of the procedure. Microblading typically costs around $1000 to $1800, and while results can last up to two years, this isn’t guaranteed for everyone.

Here’s what You Beauty’s Leigh Campbell tells people when they ask her about microblading. Post continues.

For those who do decide the cost of microblading is too high, there are a few makeup products promising the same DIY results.

One launch that’s been particularly buzz-worthy is Urban Decay’s Brow Blade.

It contains two products: a waterproof pencil and a very precise ‘ink stain’ pen. The idea is that you use the pencil to fill in any sparse areas of your brow and then go in with the pen to create defined hair-like strokes.

Urban Decay sold out of Brow Blade within days of its US launch in February, so we just had to give it a try now it’s available in Australia. Spoiler alert: it’s very good.

At $40 a pop, it’s not the cheapest brow product on the market, nor is it the only product of its kind. Last year, Maybelline and L’Oréal launched their own microblading-inspired pens that copy the nibs used for microblading, and Kat Von D’s eyebrow brush lets you use your shadow or pomade of choice to create similar results.

Urban Decay Brow Blade review microblading pens
The product lineup.
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In the interest of perfect brows (a pretty big interest, tbh), we decided to try these microblading-inspired products. Here's how they stacked up.

Urban Decay Brow Blade

Brow Blade promises perfectly-shaped brows that won't budge until you want them to. Here's how we went.

Urban Decay Brow Blade review
The pen combines a pencil (left two swatches) and a very fine pen (right three swatches).

While my natural brows are okay... they're a bit sparse and definitely need a little help. Urban Decay recommend you use the product on 'clean' brows for the best results, so I avoided applying foundation and powder around my brow area before using the pencil end to lightly fill in my brows. I then further defined my brow with the ink stain - this was especially great on the 'tail end' of my brow as the pen's fine point was great for a precise tip.

In my experience, the trick is to use light, feathery strokes and build up the colour for my most natural results.

Urban Decay Brow Blade review
Applying the product... Bare brows (left) only the pencil (right).
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PROS:

  • It's not going to budge, like really not going to budge. My brows lasted from 10am until late into the night and miraculously, there were no smudges.
  • It's very easy to use - just remember to use feathery light strokes.
  • I loved the fine waxy pencil and would gladly use it on its own. The colour match was perfect and it's easy to build upon. I didn't even need a spoolie (that thing that looks like a mascara wand) to blend in the colour.
  • The 'ink stain' brush tip is very precise and convincingly mimics your natural hairs and you can get a very precise 'tail' on the brow.
    Urban Decay Brow Blade review
    My brows after, with both the pencil and the ink stain.

CONS:

  • The shade of the ink stain was a warm and reddier brown compared to the pencil. While the two different tones create definition when used together, I wouldn't use the stain on its own.

Buy it here: Urban Decay, Brow Blade in Dark Drapes, $40.

Maybelline Tattoo Brow Tint Pen

This product mimics the microblading treatment as you're essentially creating individual 'hairs' with the four-prong pen. You then comb the brush through your brows et voilà, they're much fuller.

I saw a few online reviews that said the pen didn't distribute enough product, but putting a bit of pressure into the tip solves that.

maybelline tattoo brow tint pen microblading
The innovative nib mimics an actual microblading pen to give similar non-permanent results.
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PROS

  • It was super easy to use, despite the unique nib. It was easy to distribute the colour through my hairs and I could draw in the tail of my brow by turning the tip of the brush on its side.
  • The overall colour was great and the prongs distribute the colour without giving you visible strokes.
maybelline tattoo brow tint pen
The Maybelline alternative didn't have the best lasting power, but I was still happy with the results.

CONS:

  • There are only four shades in the range so it could be difficult to find your exact colour match. While I could get away with the shade 'deep brown,' it was a little too red for my brows.
  • The longevity wasn't exactly 'tattoo level'. My brows definitely looked 'worn' by the end of the day (10 + hours). The product didn't fade very evenly either, and I was left with a brown-green tint which was quite evident on the tail end of my brow.

Buy it here: Maybelline, Tattoo Brow Tint Pen in Deep Brown, $22.95.

L'Oréal Paris Brow Artist Micro Tattoo

The L'Oréal Paris Brow Artist Micro Tattoo looks very similar to the Maybelline pen but the formula separates the two products.

The ink stain in the L'Oréal alternative is a bit more sheer in colour which makes it more forgiving. You can build the colour up in layers - just wait for the product to dry in between applications.

L'Oreal Paris Brow Artist Micro Tattoo
The nib was very similar to the Maybelline Tattoo Brow Tint pen.
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PROS:

  • The four-pronged nib distributes finer and more defined 'hairs' which led to a more microbladed look.
  • The 'cool brunette' shade was a great colour match for my brows and, because it's more sheer in colour, it should suit a number of hair colours.
  • It's great for people who just want a light wash of colour and subtle definition through their brows.
L'Oreal Paris Brow Artist Micro Tattoo
Although the application takes longer, you have more control over the intensity of your brow colour.

CONS:

  • You might find this a little finicky if you're someone who really likes to draw in their brows - you do have to layer on the product for a more intense colour.

Buy it here: L'Oréal Paris Brow Artist Micro Tattoo in Cool Brunette, $27.95.

Kat Von D #75 Powder Brow Brush

If you are a brow powder or pomade kinda girl, this brush was great.

The fine nib of the brush means you can use fast-paced and whispy strokes to mimic your brow's natural hairs or you can gently 'stamp and flick' the brush in an upwards motion to create a full and fluffier brow. Just think Cara Delevingne.

Kat Von D recommends you use the brush with powder products only - like their Brow Struck Dimension Powder, $30 - but you could also use it with a brow pomade (like the Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade, $32). Personally, I paired it with my very old (and now discontinued M.A.C. Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Mystery) but any matte eye shadow will also do the trick.

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eyebrow microblading
I tapped both sides of the brush into the shadow before applied it on my brows using gentle, light strokes.

PROS:

  • Once you have the brush, it'll make all your gel, pomade or power brow products work that much harder.
  • The shape of the brush is perfect - you can precisely mark and extend the tail of your brow thanks to how thin the brush is, but also distribute colour all over your brows.
eyebrow microblading Kat Von D
The shadow and brush combo gave my brows a fluffy and blended result.

CONS:

  • While this does depend on the product you use, as someone with oilier skin, I know that powder brow products don't last as long as their waxxier counterparts. This is dependent on your skin type.
  • It does add another step in your beauty routine, but if you prefer gel, pomade and powder brow formulations, then this is perfect.

Buy it here: Kat Von D, #75 Powder Brow Brush, $28.

Will you be jumping on the microblade effect beauty trend? Tell us in a comment below.

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