Your eyebrows are either asymmetrical, wild, broken, or barely there. You are aching to have them fixed so you could look like one of those hot Korean actors your wife or girlfriend is obsessing about. But you’re hesitant to go to a regular eyebrow tattoo salon for fear your brows would end up looking fake, funny, or more feminine than masculine.
Celebrity makeup artist Paolo Maranan realized so many Filipino men actually have this predicament when he started to offer his microblading service in October 2020. Microblading is a cosmetic tattooing procedure that uses very fine needles to create hyperreal hair strokes. Unlike traditional brow tattoos, these are semi-permanent—meaning, they last for a year or two—but they look very natural.
Paolo had already finished three courses on microblading since 2018 but he never got to practice it professionally. When the pandemic hit, however, and makeup bookings went down, he found the time to practice his microblading skills on latex.
He posted one of his works on his social media account and it caught the attention of a young bodybuilder. “Sabi nya, ‘Pao, half lang ang brows ko. Baka you can come in for home service,’” recalls Paolo. Since he had no work to do, the makeup artist agreed, and the client was so happy with the result. [You can check out his before and after photos here.]
Paolo began accommodating a few more clients at Styluxe Salon and Makeup Studio and posted their photos on his Facebook account. That’s when inquiries started pouring in. “Around November 2020, I had bookings every two hours. Then in December, bumilis na ako, so one hour na per person. Nakaka-ten or more clients na ako in a day,” Paolo shares.
This was also when he got to the surprising realization that his market for microblading is really mainly men. These are guys who want to have better-looking but still natural and masculine-looking brows. “Pati strokes, ayaw nilang hindi mukhang totoo,” he told Jing Castañeda recently on her Kumu show Pamilya Talk (also available for viewing on YouTube).
The procedure is almost painless, Paolo assures. He applies topical anesthesia so one would only feel a slight itch. Pain level at the brow bone would be 1 or 2 out of 10. “Most of my clients say tolerable sya,” he says.
A good microblading artist hits the right depth of the skin, says Paolo. “The goal is to reach the dermis part. Kaya siya semi-permanent kasi mababaw lang [ang incision],” he explains. This also means little to zero bleeding should be expected.
A semi-permanent tattoo can last up to two years depending on a person’s skin type. The color tends to last longer in people with dry skin (two years or more) than in people with oily skin (9 months to 1 ½ year). Paolo says it’s because the oil of the skin tends to mix with the pigment.
Following their initial microblading procedure, Paolo’s clients are usually requested to come back after three weeks to a month for a retouch. The after-care, he stresses, is very important. “Dapat talaga bawal mabasa ng five days, especially pag oily skin, so that sa retouch halos 20 percent na lang ang idinadagdag ko.”
Drinking too much collagen, which causes skin renewal, will likely cause the color of the microblading to fade faster. He doesn’t advice the use of soaps that cause skin to peel. But he recommends using sunblock so that the microblading will last longer.
Who needs it
Microblading will benefit several types of people, says Paolo. First, those with sparse brows. “Minsan kahit mukha kang bata, if your brow hair is manipis, that makes you look older” As we age, we also tend to lose brow hair.
Second, people with asymmetrical, unbalanced, or disproportionate brows. “Minsan, yung isa super nice, pero yung isa magulo,” he says, citing an example. Men’s brows, he adds, are not supposed to look perfectly symmetrical. “Dun kasi nagmumukhang babae.”
People with alopecia is another group who could benefit from microblading. He mentions a 23-year-old client, a pilot, who’s had very thin brows since he was Grade 2. He is also bald. “He sent me a long message, saying that he’s not having his eyebrows done for vanity, but to boost his confidence,” Paolo recalls.
There are also people who are born with just half their brows, like it fades as it approaches the tail. These clearly need a little help, since brows not only frame the face but also help project expressions and emotions.
Finally, there are those with bushy and droopy brows, which is something that can’t be remedied by Botox. What Paolo did to one client with this problem was give the brows the needed lift by adding a few strokes here and there. “He looked younger instantly,” he says, “kasi mukhang awake ang mata niya.”
What to expect
Like any cosmetic procedure, it all starts with a consultation, which is usually done online. A client often sends a peg, or a look he likes to copy. “Madalas na ang peg [ng mga Filipino men] ay Korean. So I explain to them na ang eyebrow shape ng mga Koreans actually is different sa mga Pinoy,” Paolo offers. The brow bone structure of Koreans is flatter compared to Pinoy dudes, which would naturally result in a different brow shape.
Paolo says there are other considerations when deciding on the microblade pattern. One considers a person’s eye shape, his existing brow hair, as well as his lifestyle. Of course, his primary consideration is the happiness of his clients, so he usually follows their wishes.
During the consultation, he draws the shape of the brows, for the client’s approval. “Minsan mukhang friendly ang brows nila, tapos gusto nila mukhang suplado. Meron naman masungit ang eyebrows nila tapos ginagawa kong friendly,” he says.
The brow expert stresses a few differences to take note of when it comes to men’s and women’s brows. One is the placement of the arch. “Sa babae kasi nandun sa ibabaw ng pupil ang arch. Sa lalaki, towards the end na. Magkadikit din halos ang head ng brows ng men,” he points out.
Female brows are also symmetrical. While women can flaunt brows that look “made up,” because they do put on makeup anyway, men’s brows are more natural and rugged looking.
Paolo saves the natural brow hair of the client as much as possible, as this helps create layers that look hyperreal when incorporated with the microblade strokes. “Yung lagpas nya, nakakadagdag sya sa masculinity. Sa babae [naman] dapat malinis,” he says. Men’s brows are also usually thicker than women’s, says Paolo, although there are women who look great with thick brows.
Paolo’s microblading service isn’t exactly cheap. It’s Php 25,000–which could, uhm, raise eyebrows.
[For inquiries and bookings, send a DM to @bruskobrows on Instagram or to Paolo Maranan’s Facebook account.]
Photos from @bruskobrows on Instagram