Often in the permanent makeup (I’ll refer to it from here on as PMU) industry, clients & technicians alike will confuse one another with terminology. Allow me to clarify a few common misunderstandings.

What are the main differences between Microblading and Machine Tattooing?

  • Microblading is done with a manual hand tool
PMU Microblading Hand Tool

  • Machine method is performed using a sophisticated digital device designed especially for permanent makeup and not to be confused with the equipment used by body ink tattoo artists
PMU Machine (Nouveau Intelligent Machine)

  • Although the tool is the main difference, this also means the technique is different. The tool used to implant the pigments determines the delivery systems of pigments and this is indeed different

When it comes to distinguishing between the two methods, what you should almost be more aware of what they do have in common:

Both are tattoos
Both are used to create hairstroke eyebrows (amongst other designs)
Both are reliant completely on the skill and artistry of the person wielding each tool
Both should be performed in a sterile environment as they cut the skin and to exactly the same depth

Hairstroke eyebrows

Hairstroke eyebrows can be achieved either using the PMU machine or the manual handpiece. So now you know. If I were to tattoo hairstroke eyebrows on to you, whether I was using my Nouveau Contour Intelligent PMU machine or one of my Microblading handpieces; I would use the same brand of PMU tattoo pigments albeit with a slightly different technique but the design would be a very similar style. The aftercare is the same.


PMU Microblading Hairstroke Eyebrows

Microbladed Hairstroke Eyebrows

PMU Machine Hairstroke Eyebrows

Hairstroke Eyebrows done with digital machine






For want of a better analogy, it is akin to screwing a screw into wall with a screwdriver or using a drill. One is manual, the other uses an electric device.

​​​​​​​Some detail about the differences

Occasionally people will approach me as a client to ask, “Do you do Microblading?”, which I confirm that I do and, they will often follow up with; “..because I only want the hairstrokes”. Now that (without photos to illustrate) can be where it becomes confusing. Because I will explain that Microblading is not the only method to tattoo hairstroke eyebrows.

I have heard technicians say this: “Microblading doesn’t go as deep as machine tattooing”, and/or “bodyart tattoos which you would receive in a traditional tattoo parlour go deeper than permanent makeup” (see my previous blog Permanent Makeup Versus Tattoo Ink). Neither of these statements could be true. If you’re having a dragon tattooed on your thigh or eyebrows with my Intelligent machine or brows with a Microblading handpiece – they are all being tattooed at the same depth of your skin.
To claim that microblading isn’t actually a tattoo as it is placed ‘shallower’ in the skin, is absolutely absurd. If it were placed above the dermal layer (in the epidermis or outer layer of the skin), it would simply shed out in 5-6 weeks as the skin goes through it’s natural desquamation (exfoliation) cycle. All that is different is the molecular structure of the pigments or ink that is used in body art.

The Look

Microblading can create a more natural looking tattooed brow, we term the effect of this ‘Ultra-Realism. I have always felt, however that if performed correctly, hairstroke eyebrows do look perfectly natural whether they’re microbladed or machine tattooed. Due to the techniques used in microblading, it can give the appearance of a fluffier brow if required.


Which technique yields longer lasting results?

Again, I’ve seen it explained (incorrectly) that “Microblading (the result) doesn’t last as long as machine tattooing”, I’ve even heard/been told that “Microblading fades within six months”. I’m not disputing that some people will have experienced complete fading within such a time, you probably know someone who has. But, as a general rule they should last a similar amount of time to machine brows (however the subject of fading is is more about skin type/UV exposure/medications and is a whole other subject within itself!).

Which do I chose and why?

Clients are welcome to consult with me and decide whether they want Microblading or machine tattooing. The decision is theirs (or yours) to make. I will only ever advise a client if I consider their/your skin to be a factor. ‘Crepe-like’ skin (thin and/or dry) typically on the more mature clients can be a reason why I would encourage someone to receive machine tattooing and in particular a soft powder brow.
For me; there are no advantages or disadvantages in choice. My prices for eyebrows are the same, be it machine or manual. The appointment time is the same and I’ve no preference to which treatment that I perform, I enjoy tattooing eyebrows whichever technique I employ!


by Phil Davis