Eyebrows are one of the most important parts of our beauty routines.

They truly complete our faces and, if they’re not in tip-top shape, you’re going to notice. Nicole Shotto, owner-operator of Halo Salon and Spa, Dickson City, knows all about the importance of brows. That’s why the cosmetologist with 27 years in the business decided to create a separate company, Bonded by Brows at Halo Salon.

Shotto is a certified microblading permanent makeup artist and uses the technique, in which a blade cuts pigment into the skin, to create fuller brows, carve out a more dramatic arch or change the shape of the eyebrows to better frame the face. I sat in on a microblading session with Shotto to get the lowdown on what it’s all about.


Do your research

Take a look at a microblading artist’s work and check out what past clients have had to say. Also, look for credentials. Same as tattoo artists, microblading falls under permanent makeup, and there are no state health regulations on tattooing in Pennsylvania. Shotto looked into the laws of other states and follows Ohio’s laws on permanent makeup.
All prospective microblading clients should talk to their doctors, as those on certain medications such as blood thinners or those with certain medical conditions may not be ideal candidates for microblading.

Sessions at Bonded by Brows start at $250 and can vary. A deposit also is required.


Define your style

During the consultation, clients will go over style, shape, thickness, arches and color with their artist. Shotto recommends certain styles for her clients, but in the end, it’s up to them and their preferences, although she advises them to think beyond what’s trendy. She also prefers that clients come to her with their makeup done. She will need to remove clients’ makeup and prep their skin, but she likes to see how a client looks with makeup on in order to best shape his or her brows.


Yes, it will hurt (a little)

Similar to a tattoo, the procedure involves a blade going into the skin, though it only penetrates one layer, unlike the three a tattoo does. Shotto applies a numbing cream beforehand and adds more as the session goes along if the client asks for it.
“You can feel it a little, but it’s not unbearable,” client Victoria Fiore said during her second session with Shotto. “I’ll usually just ask to be numbed a little more.”



It takes some time

The first session typically takes about one-and-a-half to two hours. The second session typically takes around 45 minutes. It takes two sessions to see full results, and sometimes a third is added depending on how the client healed. Healing time completely depends on the person, but it takes about 10 full days, Shotto said.
At first, the brows will look very dark before they scab and flake. On days seven to 10, the color might look like it disappeared, but Shotto explained that’s just the body’s process of trying to reject the ink. By the two-week mark, the eyebrows should settle at the shade and shape they end up being. The second session will perfect them.


After-care is key

For 10 days, clients should keep their eyebrows clean and dry. They shouldn’t use any alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids and absolutely no retinoids. Shotto advised that clients shouldn’t get their eyebrows wet for those first 10 days aside from patting them twice a day with a cool damp cloth. Bacteria is everywhere, and cross-contamination is real, she added.
Shotto wore gloves and wouldn’t touch anything but the blade during the session. Clients should wash their sheets and pillowcases as well as be very careful not to touch their eyebrows to avoid getting bacteria into the tiny incisions. After they heal, clients should always wear facial sunscreen to preserve the ink. (And because it can save your life.)


See the results

The results can last anywhere from six months to two years depending on how the client took care of them and how his or her body responds to the ink. Shotto has worked on everyone from those with over-waxed brows that just never grew back to some who never liked the natural shape of their eyebrows.
Fiore was tired of filling hers in every day and is happy she took the leap.

“Eyebrows are so important, and they really make your face,” Fiore said. “I just can’t believe how much more put-together I look with them done.”
Shotto also has done microblading on individuals with alopecia to those with autoimmune diseases, thyroid disease, and through who went through chemotherapy and lost their hair and eyebrows.

“One client said to me, ‘I have no eyebrows, and no one ever knew if I was mad or not or if I was happy or not. You made people be able to see my actual facial expressions, and that’s the best thing anyone could have ever done for me,’” Shotto recalled. “I couldn’t ask for better reaction than that. That’s why I do what I do and I love what I do.”

To book a session or for more information, call 570-840-5358 or Bonded by Brows Microblading by Nicole Shotto on Facebook.