Despite Doja Cat and Bella Hadid’s best efforts, skinny brows are a little scary—especially for those who over-plucked in the 90s and are still in brow regret. (Who, me?)
While microblading seemed like the answer to getting the on-fleek brows of your Zendaya dreams, there are downsides to the treatment, including the dreaded Sharpie look or worse, scarring and infection.
Hyperrealism brows are the latest semi-permanent makeup solution for sparse brows. We spoke with Jessica Lee, hyperrealism artist and owner of Native Brows in Houston, TX, to tell us about this latest technique that’s touted for its incredibly natural and realistic results.
Reflect Beauty: What are hyperrealism brows?
Jessica Lee: Hyperrealism is just a word. It’s a machine hair stroke—not a blade—that gives the most realistic eyebrow tattoo in the industry. It’s a newer, advanced technique that creates a design that follows the natural pattern of a person’s own brow hair. I use a tattoo rotary pen with different needles and cartridges. It’s very individualistic to the client, not one-size-fits-all. With hyperrealism, I can use more than one color, usually two to three. I can criss cross strokes for more dimension. I can create baby hair or long thick strokes. I have the most artistic license and freedom with hyperrealism.
It’s a gentle and airy technique that gives a soft, pixelated look that ages with my clients. It looks like hair and doesn’t fade to a bold gray brow like microblading can.
Though I trained with a Russian artist who coined the term hyperrealism, I believe eyebrow tattooing (including machine hair stroke) started in Asia. Hyperrealism is really popular in Asia, Russia, and Europe because the benefits far outweigh microblading.
RB: How is it different from microblading?
JL: Microblading is done with a manual handheld tool. It has 12 to 18 fine microneedles that form the shape of a blade and make little scratches while implanting ink. Because of the incisions, there’s bleeding, two to three weeks of healing time and scabbing. You can’t use more than one color and you can’t criss cross strokes. Because it’s done by hand, it’s easy to go deeper into the dermal layer with microblading. The ink can blow out and migrate at this deeper level. It heals solid like a powder brow and you don’t see the micro strokes. A great result also depends on the skill of your microblader. I’d say 80% of the microblading industry isn’t qualified or experienced enough.
Also, not everyone is a good candidate for microblading. More mature skin is thinner, drier, and more delicate and you don’t want to cut their skin. People who are immunocompromised because of chemotherapy or diabetes have a higher risk of infections, bleeding, and bruising. Asian skin tends to be thick, textured, and more porous and oily. Melanin-rich skin can scar and keloid easily and turn white or gray due to hyperpigmentation.
Hyperrealism is the best alternative to avoid all these issues. It won’t heal to a gray or ash color. There’s better ink retention. It’s a more inclusive technique.
RB: Does hyperrealism hurt?
JL: Not at all. I’ve had microblading done four times myself and it feels like hundreds of paper cuts on your forehead. With hyperrealism, I don’t even pre-numb the skin and nine out of ten times, my clients fall asleep during the three-hour treatment.
It’s such a gentle technique that’s perfect for young adults, people with alopecia, the immunocompromised. I treat alopecia patients for free.
RB: What’s the upkeep?
JL: With all semi-permanent makeup, including hyperrealism, there’s the initial session and then a follow-up in about six weeks to perfect the look. It heals quickly, in 7 to 10 days, and it can last three to five years after that—depending on your age, lifestyle, and how good you are about following the aftercare protocol. It is a tattoo, so UV rays will fade the ink faster. Wear sunscreen and a hat!
Hyperrealism won’t eliminate your brow makeup, especially if you like that strong brow look. Again, it’s very natural and looks like your real hair.
Would you try hyperrealism brows? Let us know in the comments!