Combo Brows: 11 Things You Need To Know

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Tired of filling in your brows with makeup every morning? 

Get that soft, powdery makeup look with microblading and powder brows. 

A woman getting her eyebrows tattooed in a beauty salon.

This brow treatment is called combo brows. It combines both techniques to give you fuller brows that look naturally fluffy. 

Curious if combo brows are right for you? We’ve listed everything you need to know about this brow technique before you sign up for your first session.

What Are Combo Brows?

Combo brows involve two semi-permanent brow techniques: powder brows (ombre brows) and microblading

Sometimes it’s also called combination microblading, ombre microshading, or microshading ombre brows.

These brows are created by microblading the inner edge of the brow all the way to its body with fine strokes that mimic the natural appearance of hair. 

Then the body up to the brow’s tail is filled in with a soft, powdery pigment.

The results are similar to what you would achieve using makeup. However, it looks more flawless and natural because of the hyperrealistic hairlike strokes from microblading.

Microshading vs. Ombre in Combo Brows

Even brow connoisseurs tend to be confused by the differences between microshading and ombre. Are they the same? Which one is used in combo brows? Let’s break it down. 

Microshading and ombre brows are both semi-permanent brow tattoo procedures.

They employ the same cosmetic techniques to apply pigment to the brows, namely using a handheld digital machine to apply semi-permanent pigments in tiny dots.

In combo brows, ombre or powder brow treatments are used and paired with microblading. However, many people mistakenly call this technique ombre microshading or microshading ombre brows. 

This is likely due to the fact that microshading and ombre are extremely similar. In fact, most permanent makeup (PMU) artists use these two terms interchangeably. 

Other PMUs who disagree consider microshading as a combination of microblading and shading. 

They argue that the main difference is that microshading is usually paired with microblading techniques to achieve more natural-looking brows. 

By contrast, there are no hairlike strokes in ombre brow treatments. Only the powdery effect is applied.

For them, microshading has hairlike strokes and a soft, powdery finish. On the other hand, a powder brow treatment doesn’t use strokes.

Simply put, the difference between powder brows and microshading treatments will vary per studio. Thus, before booking an appointment, make sure to ask the artist what the procedure entails. 

Combo, Microblading, and Microshading: Which Is Right For You?

There are different types of microblading techniques. 

To help you find the best brow treatment, we’ll compare microblading, microshading, ombre, and combo brows.

MicrobladingMicroshadingOmbreCombo
ResultsFull, fluffy, and natural-looking browsFlawless, makeup-filled effectThick, perfectly defined browsTwo-tone effect; fluffy and soft brows
Best forThin, light-colored eyebrowsSparse, over-plucked eyebrowsOily skin types that aren’t ideal candidates for microbladingOily skin types that aren’t ideal candidates for microblading
Suitable skin typesNormal to dry skinSensitive and oily skinAll skin types All skin types

11 Things to Know About Combo Brows

Combination of microblading and powder brows

Combo brows use microblading and powder brow (ombre brow) techniques. 

A permanent makeup artist uses a hand tool to create fine strokes from the inner edges to the body of the brows, replicating the texture and appearance of natural brow hair. 

Then powder brows are applied from the body to the tail of the brows using a handheld digital machine. 

An artist fills in thin, sparse areas with pigment, resulting in a soft powdery look, similar to the effect of brow powders.

As a result, you get full, fluffy arches that last long and look natural.

Ideal for oily skin types

Combo brows are great for all skin types, especially for oily skin.

Typically, artists advise against microblading for those with very oily skin. This is because excessive sebum production can make the brow pigments blur and spread. 

Sometimes artists will recommend combo brows as an alternative treatment. Since it uses microblading techniques with shading, it makes pigments last longer on oily skin. 

Takes two sessions

Typically, you need two sessions to complete a microblading combination brow treatment. The first session may take up to two to three hours, while the second may take less time, depending on the results.

The second session is a complementary yet mandatory touch-up, where the artist makes the necessary adjustments to ensure the desired shape and colors are attained.

It may take place four to eight weeks after the first session once the pigments have settled.

Semi-permanent in nature

Combo brows are semi-permanent, which means they fade over time. 

The longevity of combo brows will vary per person because different factors affect the fading process, including skin type, skin care, and lifestyle, to name a few. To maintain the crisp, detailed look of your brows, you must schedule annual touch-ups. 

Costs $400 to $800

Generally, a combo brow treatment can cost anywhere from $400 to $800.

Combo brows may cost more than microblading since a single session involves microblading plus shading. The exact costs will largely depend on the artist as well as the location of the studio.

Appears dark and unnatural in the first week

During the first few days after your combo brow treatment, your eyebrows will look dark and unnatural. They’ll look a bit red and feel sensitive. After all, needles were used to prick the skin to apply pigment.

Eventually, you’ll notice scabs forming, which is completely normal. Not to worry; the pigment will lighten over time as the scabs heal.

Might cause flakiness and itchiness

Around two weeks after your first session, expect some flaking. The brow area will feel very tight, dry, and itchy.

No matter how itchy, refrain from picking the scabs off your skin. This can pull out pigment, resulting in colorless patches. It may also cause permanent scarring on the brow area.

Takes about 3 to 4 weeks to heal fully

The true color and shape of your brows will show after a full month of healing. At this stage, your brows should no longer be red and flaky, and they should be fully healed.

To get the best results from your treatment, avoid the following while your brows are healing:

  • Sun tanning (natural or spray tans)
  • Direct water pressure on your brows
  • Makeup
  • Retinoids
  • Creams (except for aftercare products)
  • Alcohol
  • Strenuous exercises
  • Saunas and steam rooms
  • Skin treatments and facials

Doesn’t affect hair growth on your brows

Eyebrow hair loss can be caused by various factors, including skin conditions, nutritional deficiencies, and stress. However, eyebrow treatments, including combo brows, can’t cause hair loss.

When done correctly, combo brows shouldn’t cause any hair loss.

Although rare, brow hairs might come off during the healing process. This will happen if you rub aftercare products too vigorously on the brow area.

Needs a good aftercare regimen

Much like other cosmetic treatments, your aftercare regimen will hugely impact your brows’ results. It can also affect the longevity of combo brows.

Typically, you should apply post-care ointments right after your first session then twice daily for seven days. Always wash your hands properly before touching the brow area. 

Don’t apply too much ointment on your skin because it is still raw and healing. Also, refrain from rubbing the ointment vigorously as it may irritate the skin and even cause brow hair to fall off.

Can be removed

If you are unhappy with your results or want to move on from this trend, you can always have your combo brows removed through laser treatments

Although expensive, laser treatments are the safest and most effective way to remove cosmetic tattoos.

You can also wait for the pigments to fade naturally. Since combo brows use semi-permanent pigments, they will fade by themselves over time. Just continue proper eyebrow care habits to prevent color changes.

For instance, you should apply SPF religiously because direct sun exposure can potentially alter the brow pigments as they fade.

Risks of Combo Brow Treatments

Every cosmetic treatment has risks, especially when a foreign object pierces the skin. But don’t worry; these risks can be minimized if you know what to expect and avoid.

Here are some of the risks of combo brows:

Allergic Reaction 

There is always a risk of being allergic to the pigment used in this treatment.

If you’ve had allergic reactions to certain dyes before, it’s crucial to do a patch test before trying combo brows.  

Infection

There are two ways combo brows can put you at risk for infection. 

The first is when the brow technician doesn’t use a properly sanitized needle during your treatment. Before the treatment, it’s imperative that you make sure all tools used are sterilized.

The other way is when bacteria enter the open wounds after the treatment. 

This can happen if you touch the scabs while your wounds are healing. So avoid touching your brows during the healing process to avoid infection as well as scarring. 

Color Change

The risk of the color changing or fading is pretty high, especially if you don’t follow the proper aftercare instructions. 

To prolong the color, avoid sun exposure and exfoliation. If you have an existing skincare routine, ask the technician if you can use those products post-treatment.

In cases the color drastically fades a few days after the treatment even if you avoid sun exposure and use the proper aftercare products, go back to your technician.

They may be at fault, as there are instances when the brow technician uses a cheap pigment or ink, which can create unsatisfactory results.

Before, During, and After Combo Brow Treatments

It’s good to be well-prepared for your combo brow treatment by learning what to expect before, during, and after your session. 

Let’s break them down one by one.

Before the Treatment

Remember that you can’t just walk in for a session on a whim. Combo brow treatments are booked by appointment for a couple of reasons, mainly that you have to prepare properly before your session.

So what does the prep phase look like?

  • No facial infections four weeks before your appointment
  • No facials or peels two weeks before your appointment
  • No brow waxing or tinting seven days before your session
  • Do not take blood thinners seven days before the procedure
  • Do not drink alcohol or caffeine two days prior to your appointment
  • No working out 24 hours before the procedure

During the Treatment

Microblading uses a blade to make micro incisions on the skin that create tiny hair-like strokes. Meanwhile, powder brows use a small needle to inject the skin with pigments.

To prevent excessive pain, numbing cream will be applied before the treatment.

However, note that most people feel minor discomfort, pressure, and even some pain during the procedure. How much you feel will depend on your pain tolerance. 

Remember as well that combo brows aren’t completed in a single session. 

For new combo brows, you can expect two separate appointments, both of which take around two hours or more. The second session is typically called a touch-up and performed around four to eight weeks after your first session.

By this time, the pigments will have already settled properly. This will allow your PMU to make adjustments to the brow shape or color as necessary. 

After the Treatment

The success of your combo brows will also lie in the healing process and aftercare. You must pay attention to the healing stages of your brows from day 1 to the 6th-week post-treatment.

Day 1 to 3

Right after the treatment is done, the brows will look their darkest, and it will fade by 50% by the third day. 

Day 3 to 7

By Day 5, scabs will form on the eyebrows.

Day 7 to 12

On day 7 or 8, the scabs will peel off naturally. 

Day 12 to 14

Expect the ghosting phase during this time. This is when your eyebrows appear too light or even look like they’re gone. The color will return.

Day 14 to end

There are no more scabs. The color is back, and the brows are shaping up how you want them to.

Combo Brows Aftercare Tips

Here are a few essential aftercare instructions during the 2- to 3-week healing process:

  • Lymph or lymphatic fluid will come out of the wounds on the first day. This is the body’s natural response to the cuts created by microblading. Don’t panic! Just clean them twice or thrice a day with a clean cotton pad.
  • By day 1 or 2, you can wash your brows with antibacterial soap and water.
  • If your technician prescribes you a healing ointment, use a clean cotton swab to apply it on the brows. Only use your fingers if you’re sure they’re clean, too.
  • Once the scabs start forming, resist the urge to scratch and rub them. Do not peel and pick the scabs and wait for them to peel off naturally.
  • Whenever you take a bath or shower, apply ointment on the brows to protect them from moisture and water. 
  • Do not get your brows soaking wet. If you do, dry them immediately. That said, do not go to swimming pools and jacuzzis.
  • Avoid sun exposure and tanning beds.
  • Do not wear brow or eye makeup. 
  • Try to avoid heavy sweating or working out for at least a week. Sweat droplets that form on your brows throughout the day should be wiped off immediately.
  • Avoid facials and other treatments.
  • Do not use skincare products with retinol or lactic and glycolic acid, as these can fade the pigment.
  • When going outdoors, always use sunblock.

Are Combo Brows Worth It?

A combo brow treatment is worth it if you want to add volume and enhance the shape of your brows. It’s also an excellent choice if you have very oily skin that isn’t ideal for microblading alone.

Close up photo of a young woman with her eyes closed during procedure of permanent eyebrow makeup

As long as you do your research and hire a good artist, the results of your combo brow treatment will be worth its price.

Remember that the results largely depend on how well you care for your brows during and after the healing process. Take note of our aftercare tips, so you can make your combo brows last longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are combo brows good for?

Combo brows suit all skin types, especially oily skin.

If your skin has been deemed too oily for a full microblading treatment, combo brows make an ideal alternative. 

Since it pairs microblading with shading techniques, brow pigments can last longer, even on the oiliest skin types.

Are combo brows painful?

A combo brow procedure is relatively painless, especially since it uses numbing cream to minimize pain. Most people only feel minor discomfort during a session.

Still, everyone experiences pain differently, so you may feel higher or lower levels of pain than others who’ve tried the treatment. 

How long do combo brows last?

The results of a microblading combo can last anywhere from two to four years. 

Since it is a semi-permanent cosmetic treatment, brow pigments will fade over time. The longevity of the results will vary for each person, depending on your skin type, skincare routine, lifestyle, age, and more.

Get the Perfect Combo for Your Brows

With all the available eyebrow enhancing techniques available today, our favorite is combo brows. 

Why? You hit two birds with one stone! You get the extra thin hair strokes on your brows, plus get that extra fill color to make it look fuller.

You don’t have to spend time filling in your brows with an eyebrow pencil, powder, or pomade anymore. When you wake up, you’ll be ready to face the world without even spending any time on your brows!

Best of all, combo brows look oh-so natural. It won’t look like you’ve got them done! 

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Authors

  • Ashley Pena

    Ashley Pena brings over 13 years of seasoned writing and editing expertise, fortified by her Bachelor of Science in Management. Esteemed in the beauty domain, her content captivates readers with its depth and authenticity. While she navigates a broad spectrum of beauty trends, Ashley shines particularly as our resident K-beauty guru. Her articles are a harmonious blend of passion and profound knowledge, inspiring readers on their unique beauty journeys.

  • Mary Lois Jhie-an Garchitorena

    A seasoned beauty expert and permanent makeup artist with a rich educational background from top international academies, including Yumi Lashes and PhiAcademy. Her career began in 2017 out of a passion for enhancing natural beauty, leading her to master various aesthetic treatments and PMU. Mary has learned from grand masters like Dovile Zilinskaite and Anastasia Gilmanova, ensuring her clients receive unparalleled service. Despite challenges, she continues to thrive as a home-based artist, committed to delivering excellence and innovation in beauty aesthetics.

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