Numbing the Skin for Microblading
One of the most frequent questions I get as a microblade artist is: “Does Eyebrow microblading hurt?” And, the issue of numbing is especially confusing because an online search of microblade clients produces a dramatic diversity of responses. For some people, microblading is completely painless and comfortable. For others, there experience was very painful. Why are these people’s experiences are so different? And, what techniques and approaches can a microblade artist utilize to give their clients the best experience possible?
My own experience with numbing the brow area for eyebrow microblading has led to this conclusion: Virtually every client can achieve excellent numbing, and have a very comfortable experience. However, the amount of time, and the type of anesthetic needed to achieve excellent numbing can vary significantly from person to person.
There are two stages of numbing for the microblading procedure:
- Pre-numbing: This is where an anesthetic (usually Lidocaine or Benzocaine) are applied to the skin before the procedure, to make the initial microblade strokes as comfortable as possible. Since there are no scratches yet, the anesthetic usually takes much more time to work, and is often covered with plastic wrap to help it absorb easier, without drying or evaporating. For some clients, 15 minutes is plenty of time for the pre-numb to take effect. For others, it takes 30 minutes, or even longer. At the initial procedure, I allow extra time, and check the skin at intervals until it is numb. I then mark the time required on the client’s chart, so I will know how long will be required in future touch-ups.
- During-procedure numbing. Once there are scratches on the surface of the skin, a liquid anesthetic is applied, to allow a full numbing effect to be sustained for the remainder of the procedure. This product tends to be very fast acting, because it has a way to get under the surface of the skin and take effect quickly. For some clients, the numbing liquid needs to be re-applied every 20-30 minutes. For others, it is every 10 minutes. This is affected by metabolism, and micro-circulation under the skin. Different people’s bodies metabolize the anesthetic at different rates, and the frequency of application needs to be adjusted accordingly.
The pre-numbing phase varies the most from person to person. It is counter-intuitive, but people with thin skin get numb slower than those with thicker skin, and the artist should allow more time before beginning the procedure. One factor with the speed of numbing is the size of pores. People with thicker skin tend to produce more oil, and they have larger pores. These provide easier access for the anesthetic to be absorbed. Oil based anesthetics absorb best with skin with visible pores, whereas a gel based product is better for skin with small or invisible pores.
Once the artist takes all of these considerations into effect, and selects the right anesthetic, for the right length of time, achieving comfortable numbing is simple.