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Manual Vs Machine PMU

Nov. 16, 2021

Manual Vs Machine PMU


Table of contents:

  • Microblading,
  • Microshading,
  • Nanoblading
  • Machine Hair Strokes,
  • Nano Brows.
  • PMU Machine Shading
  • Combo Brows.


Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of fights and heated discussions in social media forums regarding “the correct way” to implant pigment into the skin when it comes to eyebrows permanent makeup. Either it’s done manually or with a machine.


I also see a lot of misinformation from other schools, trainers, pigment manufacturers and even artists who were never trained to be trainers.


It seems to me like professionals in this field are trying to put other colleagues down in order to promote their own business agenda.


And that is just sad because I feel like there is enough space and plenty of business for everyone. We are ARTISTS, our ART is unique. Therefore, besides some exceptions, like guarding the integrity of the client’s skin and the client’s health, there is really no “right way” or “wrong way” in how to express your art.


It’s like telling a painter that he can only use one method or tool to paint a house or telling a sculptor he can only use one type of chisel or rasps to sculpt a beautiful mermaid.


Misinformation is dangerous not only to our clients, who should know that there are different options out there, but also to our students since It kills their artistic inspiration before they even start to develop it.


I have been in this industry for a long time and saw the most beautiful works of art done on clients’ eyebrows in every possible way you can imagine.


I’ve decided to explain and name things as they are, since they are being falsely advertised at the moment.


Hopefully, this article will reach those who are confused by the “he said/ she said”, going around in social media lately.


Basically there are two major ways to do permanent makeup/ microblading etc on eyebrows:

the manual way (using your hand, a hand tool and needles) or the machine way (using your hand, and a machine and cartridges with needles).


Manual Way


Microblading: hair strokes done manually with needles in a row, in groupings of 9-21 (NOT a blade or knife etc…)

This movement can be done two ways: by scratching or tapping the row of needles (also know as a BLADE) with pigments (ink) inside the skin.


It has been argued by those artists who prefer machine work that this hurts the skin more because it cuts the skin while the needles are being dragged to create the hair stroke look.


But we can also create hair strokes by tapping them into the skin, therefore creating way less trauma.


Microshading: powder look done manually by tapping needles with pigment into the skin.

There are different types of shading styles that can be done with this method like Combo (if hair strokes are added), Ombre Brows, etc, but the movement is the same (up and down tapping).


Nanoblading: hair strokes done manually two ways (scratching or tapping) with nano sized needles.




Machine Way


Machine hair strokes: also called Nano Brows (if done with a nano needle) are a type of line tattooing simulating the hair strokes look done with a tattoo or PMU machine.

This movement is done by the artist’s hand gliding or dragging motion on top of the skin while the machine makes the needle go up and down like a sewing machine implanting pigment (ink) into the skin.


Now, a lot of trainers and artists who prefer working with machines will argue that this way is the least traumatic to the skin when creating the hair stroke look. 

I say to them: “ask a veteran tattoo artist!”


Since our work came originally from tattoo artists, they know what is real and what is superstition


When you are creating hair strokes with the machine, you can also cut the skin,  just like if you were performing the manual microblading.


Yes, the needle is going up and down like a sewing machine creating dots but your hand is still dragging through the skin to create a line and if your machine is going fast enough you are cutting the skin


“Correct problems with lining.  What skin looks like when your machine is running too fast.  You can actually cut the skin with the needle.  Read the tattoo and make corrections.”

Source: Tattoo University.


Plus, from my own experience I can say that sometimes when you are working with such thin and delicate skin (eyebrows) you can bruise your client just from the powerful punch from the machine (even without a needle!).


I always recommend light tap work or very slow machine speed for those with thin, delicate skin like our mature clients, for example (55 and older).



Machine shading: also called Powder Brows, Ombre, Combo (if hair strokes are added).

This is a very popular method nowadays because it is relatively “easy” (think Paint by Numbers).

This movement is achieved by a back and forth motion (pendulum) or one way (whip-shading) with very little contact with the surface of the skin (think of throwing a stone in the lake and it skips the surface, hopping, skipping forwards, never sinking).


This method is even more preferred than the machine hair strokes because it’s easier and usually has better healed results for women looking for beautiful eyebrows.

I would never recommend this method for men, unless they already have very full eyebrows and just need them to be a little darker.


What is the best method?


So what is the best way to do Eyebrow Micropigmentation?

What are the best needle sizes, machine speed, or manual tools? What’s the best method? Manual or Machine?



The answer is: your way! You know what works for you, you practice with everything until you “get it”.

Unfortunately, sometimes I have to tell my students; “I give you the tools and the knowledge, but YOU have to do the work.”


So yes, there is no right or wrong way, our art is unique and there is no such thing as “one-size-fits-all” in this business.


If you are starting now, do not let anyone kill your artistic inspirations, experiment and find what works for you and your clients! Learn all the methods before you decide what is your forte, and if you prefer machine or manual please do not kill other aspiring artists’ dreams and inspirations. Do not BAD MOUTH one method just because it is not for you.


Remember, there is plenty of business and choices for everyone out there, the world population just keeps growing more and more each second and so your art and business can  grow too.


If you are a trainer or a manufacturer, don’t say negative things about other methods than your own one. It is extremely unethical and it can backfire very quickly (the world is round and what comes around…well, you know).


Important thing is to let your art skills evolve; let it flow and be happy!




Ana Perrone