Understanding PMU

Written by Kim Anh

What is the difference between microblading, full shading, combo brows, and blade and shade?

With all of the different styles of brow tattoos out there today, it’s easy to feel confused and overwhelmed about which style best suits you. When choosing a permanent makeup procedure to enhance your eyebrows, there are a few things to consider: your skin type, hair density, and personal style. Let me walk you through the different brow procedures to better educate you on your life-changing decision!

Microblading is a semi-permanent brow tattoo using a handheld tool, which creates very natural hairlike strokes. Microblading is perfect for those who want the most natural look, or for those who want to define their brows and fill in some gaps. This is best for clients who have normal/dry skin with fine and relatively evenly dispersed hair.

Blade and shade (microshading) is a combination of microblading hair strokes and shading. Shading is done either manually with a handheld tool or with a digital machine to add a soft shade of colour in between the hairstrokes to mimic hair density. Shading with microblading adds intensity and boldness to your brows and is best suited for those who have little to no hair, dense hair that is uneven, or for those who are used to a filled in and more full looking brow. Blade and shade is my go-to for most clients because it gives a very realistic, 3D effect. 

Full shading (AKA powder ombre) is not microblading. It is a semi-permanent eyebrow tattoo using a digital machine, giving you that "filled in" look. Full shaded brows can range from a soft powdery look to a more dense and bold “Instagram brow” look. Shading is better suited for those who have oilier skin or who like the look of brow makeup, but don't want to fill them in every day.

Combo brows is the love child of microblading and powder ombre shading. The combo brow procedure is different from blade and shade, as it is a full shaded brow (using a machine) with microbladed hair strokes only at the front part of the brow. Combo brows suit clients who prefer the filled in makeup look (“Instagram brows”), who have dense and uneven eyebrows, and who still want the natural look of some hairlike strokes at the front of their brows. This works for clients who don’t have an oily t-zone as microblading strokes can heal less crisp on oilier skin.


Now that you have an idea of the different types of procedures, make sure you do research to find an artist who specializes in the one you’re looking for! It is especially important to see healed results in addition to before and after pictures. A perfectly shaped set of eyebrows can drastically enhance all of the features of the face and can be life changing in the best way!

Are you ready for the brows of your dreams? Click here to book an appointment at Tina Davies Studio.