This is probably the question I am most frequently asked in regards to eyebrow cosmetic tattoo – and one which does require some explanation, as in my own opinion, there is no one method which is superior to another – different method of application achieve different looks, and are suitable for different faces.
Below is an explanation of both the hair stroke/feathering method of cosmetic tattoo (also referred to as eyebrow embroidery) and the powder fill/solid fill technique (also referred to as block method).
The hair stroke method has become incredibly popular in recent years, I think in some part due to the trend for thick yet bushy and natural looking brows that seem to be on all the catwalks at the moment.
A very natural, lifelike looking brow can be created using the hair stroke method, which is using the tattoo needle to create lots of little hair like impressions by implanting pigment in a line under the skin.
The advantages are that it does look very natural, like real hair. It is perfect for people that already have quite good hair coverage, and for those who want to fill out gaps in their eyebrows where hair is missing, because the strokes can be made to mimic the natural hair present in color, thickness and angle. In younger skin, it can even work very well for creating a complete brow where little to no hair exists.
However, it generally does not last as long as the powder fill technique. This is because the action of ‘stroking’ the needle through the skin to create a ‘hair like’ mark does not actually implant the pigment as deeply as the powder fill method. It usually needs to be retouched more frequently than the powder fill method, as it fades more quickly (particular hair stroke brows done in lighter colors).
If the most important factor in your cosmetic tattoo treatment is longevity, I would probably not opt for the hair stroke technique alone. Also, in older skin or skin that has been aged prematurely from sun exposure, the hair strokes do not stay in the skin as well defined as in younger, more elastic skin.
For mature clients, I would often recommend the powder fill, or hair strokes over an initial powder fill treatment, for a better result.
The powder fill method involves the application of thousands of tiny little dots of pigment, inserted into the skin, gradually building up a color and a defined shape. It is the more traditional method of cosmetic tattoo and the pigment usually lasts longer when applied in this manner as it is deeper in the skin.
However, many people are fearful of this method looking too ‘solid’ or unnatural because it does have a more defined, solid look than hair strokes alone. What many people don’t realize is it can be made to look very natural looking, by not saturating the desired brow shape 100% with pigment, to allow a defined yet soft/non solid look.
Powder fill brows have a more defined look about them than hair strokes, and some people don’t like this look as much as it can lack in texture. The powder fill/block tattoo had previously gained a bad name for itself since the pigments used were not really suitable for cosmetic tattoo (Ex: blacks used in eyebrows fading to blue or green!). Cosmetic tattoo pigments have come a long way since then. The pigments for brows are blended browns, blondes, and taupes and are all very natural looking.
A fantastic compromise between the two methods described above, is having an initial powder fill treatment in a slightly lighter pigment that you would like for the final result, followed 4-6 weeks later by a slightly darker hair stroke application over the top. This is a great way to achieve a natural hair stroke look, but with better definition and longevity than hair stroke on naked skin.
Hopefully this sheds some light on the different application methods for cosmetically tattooed eyebrows, and helps you if you're trying to make a decision regarding a cosmetic tattoo.