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This $8 Brow Pen Is the Most Microblading-esque Product I’ve Ever Tried

Photo: Crystal Martin

Two years ago, when I tried microblading for the first time, I was surprised by how much it hurt. The semi-permanent tattoo process etches hairlike strokes of ink into the brows: My aesthetician assured me that people typically didn’t find the slight cuts to be all that painful, but with each line scratched, I winced and grimaced — throughout the hour-long experience. When she finished, though, I did see the dense, dark brows I’d wished I’d been born with; the ones I’d long tried to approximate myself with a combination of pencils and gels that, while they may have provided definition or kept things in place, gave no illusion of thickening. I luckily didn’t have to pay for the procedure, because I’m a beauty writer, but for those first two days post-microblading, it truly seemed worth the hundreds of dollars it typically costs. The fresh ink really could pass for defined, natural-looking brow hair.

Until, within a matter of weeks, that effect faded. During the healing period, a scab forms where the cuts were made. And for me, once that scab flaked off, so did my new “hair.” My final result from microblading (even after the standard second “touch-up” session about a month later) looked like I’d brushed on brow powder. An improvement, yes, but not Dream Brows.

I suspected my very oily skin was in part to blame here. And that suspicion was later confirmed when I consulted Tamara Palumbo, microblading technician and founder of FringeBrow. “Yes, skin type absolutely affects the results of microblading,” she said. “It tends not to last as long on oily skin.” She attributes this to the fact that during the healing process, your glands are producing a lot of an oily substance called sebum, making it so “the strokes can’t heal completely” and “resulting in a less-sharp appearance.”

Which is all to say that I’ve decided I don’t need microblading, anyway. Because a couple of months ago, I discovered the Maybelline TattooStudio Brow Tint Pen. The pen has a felt tip with three tiny prongs that translate into tiny hairlike strokes when painted onto your brows. It comes in four shades, and the darkest one matches my hair very well. With a little practice, I figured out the right amount of pressure to apply (don’t apply too much, or you’ll dispense excess ink and end up with Rorschach blots on your face). I stick to gliding my hand in short, gentle motions in the direction of hair growth. And I get a naturally thick brow effect that is not unlike that of microblading. Without any of the pain (or $$$$).

Maybelline Tattoo Studio Brow Tint Pen

Of course, this thing isn’t permanent. Maybelline says the pen provides “up to 24 hour” wear, but with my oily skin, the ink only lasts several hours — a workday or about as long as any other makeup I’d apply. But I’m not here for permanence. I gave up on that after microblading. I’m here for a look — dark, dense, natural — and the pen does that better than any product I’ve tried.

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This Brow Pen Works Better for Me Than Microblading