Because the ink doesn’t go as deeply into the skin as body art, microblading fades over time. Depending on your skin type, it could last one to two years. Sometimes, you even need a touchup four to eight weeks after your first appointment.
However, getting that touchup right now isn’t exactly an option. With salons across the U.S. shuttered due to the COVID-19 outbreak, people have been trying professional services on themselves, like facials and haircuts. But at-home microblading is absolutely not an option. Luckily, brow pens that create the same effect — no painful incisions necessary — exist. Sure, their hair-like strokes for the illusion of fuller, defined arches last only about two days, but the pens work in a pinch. They provide a quick touchup for your next Zoom meeting and will hold you over until you can finally make an appointment with your favorite cosmetic tattooist once again. For those who’ve never gotten the procedure done before, consider this a way to satisfy your microblading curiosity, too.
Most of the brow pens on this list take a three-pronged approach to master a microblading effect — literally. Milk Makeup and Maybelline New York launched pens with toothed applicator for quickly etching on lines that look just like naturally grown brow hairs. MAC and Urban Decay also make ones with felt or brush tips like your go-to liquid liner, so you’ll be used to maneuvering it. No matter what applicator you prefer, you’re sure to find a suitable option for your brow grooming routine on this list of best brow pens for creating a microblading effect, below.
Essence The Eyebrow Pen
The Essence The Eyebrow Pen is a no-nonsense take on the toothed marker trend. Rake it through your arches with short, upward strokes, and your handiwork won’t budge until you wash your face. Fans of the tool also speckle on faux freckles with the pen.
Glossier Brow Flick fills in where Boy Brow doesn’t. The latter tames and fluffs up arches; the paintbrush-like applicator of Brow Flick, on the other hand, focuses on the details.
Fill in gaps and add definition where you need it, but keep this tip from New York City-based makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes in mind: the pen works best on “completely clean, oil-free brows, so you shouldn’t have any moisturizer on them or any oils or serums or any skin-care product — and no highlighters.”
Comb the L’Oréal Paris Micro Ink Brow Pen through your brows like a little brush to bolster every hair for up to 48 hours straight. Its applicator has the sharpest edge on the market. Flip it over and elongate the tails of your arches with it.
The ingredient list for the Milk Makeup Kush Triple Brow Pen could be confused for a skin-care product as it touts aloe, sunflower oil, and CBD oil – all to help nourish your brows and the skin underneath them. The pen is offered in a whooping eight hues in warm, cool, and neutral tones of blonde and brown, as well as auburn and black, so you’re find to find your perfect match.
The Revolution Pro Build & Grow Brow Serum Duo wants to be a part of all of your beauty routines. While doing your makeup, uncap the pigmented side in one of three variations of brown: ash, warm, and dark to sculpt your brows.
When it’s time for your nighttime skin-care regimen, remove the white cap to reveal a market-like applicator to coat your arches in a transparent serum. We can’t attest to its hair growth claims, but millet seed extract and panthenol are sure to moisturize the area.
The forces of a pen and powder join together in one powerful baton. One of the MAC Shape + Shade Brow Tint is an ultra-fine felt tip liner to fill gaps; the other houses a self-depositing sheer pigment in its cap that clings onto the spongey tip. Smooth it onto arches to add dimension and lock in your brow look all day long.
Press down the tip to conveniently replenish the long-lasting inkiness of the Maybelline New York TattooStudio Brow Tint Pen — a genius feature most of the other pens lack. (For the others, store them cap side down to force the pigment to collect at the tip.)
Another thin brush tip option if the three-pronged applicators intimidate you: the Sephora Collection Microblade Effect Brow Pen. You can pick from two universal shades – light and deep – to make the faux microblading process that much more foolproof.
Although the Urban Decay Brow Blade is the priciest option on this list, it’s the perfect selection if your partial to a pencil. The two-in-one solution has a tiny retractable one that’s equally as neddle-like brush applicator for a subtle stain. Its shade range is also the most numerous with nine to choose from, including a universal color called Taupe Trap.
It’s been 20 years since celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic entered the scene, forever contouring the shape of the beauty world with highlights, shimmers, and perfectly winged liner that launched an army of copycats on social media.
Now, Dedivanovic, whom the New Yorker recently heralded as “The Makeup Artist at Ground Zero of Internet Beauty Culture,” has taken his years of expertise, massive internet fame, and a few personal checks to labs across the world to create his dream: a self-funded line of products titled Makeup by Mario.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #19 series on my blog.
For Dedivanovic, this moment is huge. He begins to tear up on a Zoom call as he discusses the project he began working on three years ago. “I’m just so excited for October 1st”—the launch date, Dedivanovic’s birthday, and the date he began working on the Sephora floor many years ago—“because it almost still doesn’t feel real to me,” he says.
The artist comes fully loaded with all the bonafides to make a bestselling beauty line. He’s most famous for his work on one of the 21st century’s most famous canvases, Kim Kardashian-West, and helped launch her KKW Beauty line. He’s also had brand partnerships with Laura Mercier and hosts a mega-popular Masterclass. This is the last box to check on his way to beauty moguldom.
For Dedivanovic, the Sephora gondola, the display for all a brand’s beauty products inside the store, is the ultimate symbol of his success. “I used to manifest into those Sephora bottles when I was cleaning them, that I would one day have that, knowing very well that I had to work very hard and it probably wouldn’t be 20-plus years until I did that,” he explains. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment for a long time.”
His dreams are finally a reality. The new line includes 21 products and tools, including eyeshadow palettes, brushes, and highlighters created to flatter any and all skin tones. “When I work, I tend to like products that I can use on all skin tones,” he says.
Below, a few beauty tips from the seasoned vet, plus a peek at the products in his collection.
He knows you’re bad at winged eyeliner.
A standout product in the line is the Master Pigment Pro Pencils, inspired by his older sister Vicky, a relatable queen with an inability to work with eyeliner.
“I think it’s hard even for an artist to really do a beautiful wing,” Dedivanovic says. “I know that a lot of people want to do wings, but it’s challenging and can be intimidating. With this pencil and brush shape, you take the pencil and draw a line from there [the center of your eyelid] to the corner. You stop at the corner and flip the brush over and up and lift. [The brush] literally does the flip for you. I wanted to make this technique very, very easy.”
Dedivanovic added that he will provide new content that inspired tools like the eyeliner and tutorials around how to use it on his social media platforms.
He likes both contoured and natural makeup.
“I know I’m [known] as the contour king, but I think there was a little misconception,” he says. “I’m not the type of artist that typically will do the heavy stripes and all those types of things. I like makeup to look as if one were born with it in terms of the colors and finishes on the skin. I like it to enhance a woman’s face, not to have it feel unnatural or that they have a ton of makeup on. My goal at the end is that when you are up close, in person, you do makeup to make it look beautiful there. But for me, that’s not enough. I want it to look beautiful for the person as well. Bot in the sense, Oh, wow, your makeup is beautiful. More in the sense of, Wow, you look beautiful.
The brand is for novices and beauty experts alike.
While the line is infused with years of experience from Dedivanovic, he wanted to create something that was easy for the most green of makeup appliers to use.
Here’s his tip for the Master Metallics palette:
“This is a very creamy formula that’s a blend of powders and creams, so it’s very easy to use with just a swipe of a finger on your lid for a quick application. I wanted to separate my products by texture because as an artist, I was always trained from the very beginning that you always separated your mattes [from] your metallics. That’s the way you packed your bag as well.”
The packaging is the future of beauty.
Dedivanovic was inspired by the iPhone and how easily it can fit into your hand. He wanted the tools to feel accessible and comfortable while you apply your makeup. Think 2001: A Space Odyssey meets BTS’s “On” music video: The full, nearly all-white kit comes in what looks like a briefcase from a space-age population that cracked the code on product design. “It felt like the future of makeup in a sense,” he says. “I hadn’t seen something like this when it was presented. Also, it felt pure.”
The Master Prep and Set
Available in three different tones—light, medium, and deep—each set comes with six shades to be used as an eye primer. Dedivanovicoriginally tried to get this product in the palettes but couldn’t configure it correctly and inclusion would make the palettes gigantic. Thus, it evolved into its own separate product.
The Master Mattes were the first product Dedivanovic began working on in 2017. “The Master Matte palette is inspired by human skin tones,” he explains. “It’s inspired by the technique I have done for many years, in which I shape and contour the eyes using typically different, varying shades of foundation and/or concealer to shape and contour the eyes before I apply eyeshadow.”
To find the right human skin tones for the palette, he researched the different pigments that make up our skin tones. The shades also have a bit of translucency because he prefers subtle to extremely pigmented eyeshadow.
The all-metallic formula is a creamy blend of both powders and creams, making it very easy to use with a single swipe of your finger onto your lids. Dedivanovic, a self-proclaimed geek, researched the inside of our bodies for the pink, brown, and cream hues. “This is sort of representative of the shades that are within all our bodies on a cellular level,” he explains. “What’s really interesting is when you swatch all these colors together, it’s the epitome of my dream color palette when it comes to shimmery shades.”
If you’re looking for the easiest-to-use product in the collection, this palette is your go-to. But, if you’re looking for more of a high-intensity pigment, Dedivanovic created the Master Metals and Master Metals Manipulator to create your very own dream eye looks. “The idea is that the artist could scrape several shades and mix their own metal shades,” he says. “What happens when you use the Master Metal Manipulator is it turns it into a molten liquid metal. You can do liquid liners with it, you can do a quick all-over eyeshadow shade, or just the inner corner.
Bonus points: The Master Metal Manipulator also turns them into a completely waterproof product.
Mario’s Master Metal™ Manipulator™ is the ultimate mixing agent for metallic pigments. It instantly transforms loose or pressed metallic pigments into a liquid, creating a gorgeous metal foil. When mixed with pigment, it provides intense grip, lasting power, and locks the formula in place.
The Master Crystal Reflectors come in three shades: quartz, citrine, and bronzite. The reflectors are a few of his favorites because of their sheer finish that “sparkles while dancing on the eyelid.”
The product also reflects light beautifully and gives a bit of reflection and dimension to the eyelid, but can be worn all over the face. “It’s a global exclusive formula, so no one can ever have this formula,” he adds. “I’m very excited about that.”
“For years, I liked to use a highlighter on the cheek or on the eye that is a completely sheer emollient glow,” he says. “I envisioned this even for the girl who really doesn’t wear any makeup. I do clients that have a very natural look and I like natural looks as well. This product really fits both of those.”
For the collection, Dedivanovic created four pencils and four eyeshadow brushes. According to him, “Pencils are one of the most transformative aspects of makeup, especially when it comes to the eyes.” He incorporated his signature liner techniques into crafting them.
Mario’s dual-ended liner has all you need to create a precise line. The velvety gel-based formula delivers a full-coverage finish in a single swipe. It has incredible grip after it sets but still allows time to blend, layer, and define. For a soft, symmetrical line, use the brush to smudge and blend.
This liquid liner is extremely pigmented and features a super sharp, flexible felt tip for ultimate control. The bulletproof formula grips the lid and is completely smudge-proof for bold and lasting definition.
The brushes are inspired by the eyeshadow brushes he usually works with from Japan. They’re designed to work with the other formulas in the collection like the Master Mattes to make for an easy blend and application.
This brush has fluffy, soft, flexible hairs that are ideal for blending and softening on the eyes and face. It’s also perfect for applying and blending matte shadows. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free, made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
This brush has fluffy, soft hairs and a wide, tapered shape. It’s perfect for effortless eyeshadow application and an easy sweep of color across the lid. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free, made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
This brush features a denser, rounded head with flat hairs and works well with cream and powder formulas. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free, made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
This brush’s small, tapered head makes it the perfect detail brush. Use it to apply shadows wet or dry or to blend and smoke out eyeliner with control and ease. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free and are made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
Last but not least, he created gentle makeup remover wipes. “When I work, I’m very particular with wipes,” he says. “I use them to gently exfoliate the skin right before I go on with skincare.” He wanted to move away from traditional oily formulas so he created something without fragrance or the normal oily residue. “These are made with 100 percent natural, pure cucumber water, and they don’t leave any oiliness.”
Of course there is a myriad of textures, colors, functions, etc. Please consider your personal needs and online reviews if you’re unsure whether it’ll be right for you. And if it’s not – on to the next one! Sponges should be replaced around every 3 months, due to product buildup and bacteria. As well, please wash your sponges after every single use.
What are your favourite makeup sponges? Do you use them or brushes alone? Let me know in the comments below!
Whether you are a working makeup artist, or simply use makeup often, it’s extremely important to sanitize your tools, wash your brushes and sponges, make sure cream and powder products are in their best shape, and liners/mascaras/eyebrow products are within their suggested use period and are not hard on your eyes.
While attending any Makeup Academy, professional makeup artists learn the sanitation process through and through. Some basics to keep in mind for working makeup artists (that can also be applied to makeup lovers) are briefly summarized here:
Before beginning the work – sanitize all of the tools (eyelash curlers, tweezers, mixing tray, spatula, sharpeners, and other tools), clean your brushes (deep clean if you have more time or with a fast-drying solution), use unscented hand sanitizer throughout the process;
To ensure your clients’ confidence in proper sanitizing practices, make sure you state that all products have been sanitized, have alcohol solution and fast-drying brush cleaner within easy reach, as well as your unscented hand sanitizer;
Foundation, concealer, and other cream products – scoop out as much product as needed onto a flat (sanitized with alcohol) makeup mixing tray, use a (sanitized) spatula, and apply products on the client;
Powder, bronzer, blush, highlight, shadows, and other powder products – use a tissue to wipe off the top layer of the product, then apply with a clean brush;
Lipstick – spray the lipstick with alcohol and gently wipe off the layer with a tissue;
Lipliner and eyeliner – sharpen them before using on a new client;
Mascara and lipgloss – use a disposable wand and never dip the same wand into a product again, use a new wand;
Clean your kit regularly! It’s recommended to do after every client to prevent the spread of bacteria that can be sitting on your tools or products. Deep clean brushes regularly, and ensure your mascaras and cream products are within their recommended use time.
I know it can seem tedious at times but this is the only way to prevent anything bad happening to your clients or yourself. And … there’s no better feeling than a newly-cleaned soft brush on a face!