Powder Brows Allergic Reaction (How To PREVENT)

Reviewed by: Isabella Sylvester - Beauty Therapist

Powder brows is a popular semi-permanent treatment that gives you soft, defined brows. But did you know that powder brows can cause allergic reactions? In this article, we’ll explain the symptoms to look out for and how to combat any reactions.

Powder Brows Allergic Reaction

Powder Brows Allergic Reaction – Quick Facts

  • Always do a patch test first
  • Allergy can be due to nickel, paraphenylenediamine, aftercare cream, or latex gloves
  • An allergic reaction will usually occur 24-48 hours after treatment
  • Symptoms include redness, swelling, and an itchy rash
  • Infections are far worse and medical assistance is needed

What Are Powder Brows?

Powder brows (also known as ombre brows) are a semi-permanent eyebrow styling technique that utilizes PMU (permanent make-up) pigments. 

The eyebrow artist uses a small machine to place tiny dots of pigment into the brows which gives them a powdered appearance – hence the name.

The technique is often confused with microblading. However, while powder brows can give similar results, the difference lies in the application technique. 

Microblading uses a handheld tool, while ombre brows utilize a machine to deliver pigment into the skin. 

Can Powder brows Cause An Allergic Reaction?

Woman getting her eyebrows tattooed

Yes, powder brows can cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. The allergy can be caused by the ink and pigment used during the treatment and the symptoms are swelling, redness, as well as an itchy rash.

It’s worth noting that it can be difficult to diagnose an allergic reaction to powder brows as the healing process for the treatment does involve redness, itchiness, and scabbing.

It is therefore vital that you have your eyebrow artist conduct a patch test on a small area of skin 48 hours before treatment to see if an allergic reaction occurs. 

This should be an essential part of your ombre brow preparation and is the absolute best way to determine whether or not you have an allergy to the pigment used.

While it’s relatively uncommon, there are also some instances in which people’s skin rejects the pigment and causes an infection. 

Some pigments have an ingredient called paraphenylenediamine in them, which is also included in some hair colors. 

If you already know you’re allergic to hair dye, tell your eyebrow artist, as there are other pigments that do not contain this ingredient.

Note that a person may also be allergic to the aftercare cream that is provided or latex gloves used during the treatment.

What To Expect After A powder brow treatment

After getting your ombre brows done, the skin is very sensitive and you should expect some swelling, redness, and even itchiness – this is perfectly normal.

Healing from ombre powder brows usually takes around 4 weeks so you’ll need to be extra careful about what you put on your face.

Avoid touching it with your hands if they haven’t been washed or applying makeup to the area until the healing period is over. 

For a complete guide, check out our post on Powder Brows Aftercare.

What To Do If You Have An Allergic reaction?

Any abnormal itchiness or continued swelling may indicate that you have an allergic reaction to the powder brows treatment. If you suspect this to be the case, ask your brow artist for advice or see your General Physician.

If you do suffer from sensitive skin, it may also be worth seeing a professional allergist beforehand to make sure ombre brows are in fact safe for you.

In 2018, YouTuber Alissa Ashley documented her experience of having an allergic reaction to microblading and the experience was quite painful.

According to Allure Magazine, Alissia reveals that she immediately went to the emergency room and they confirmed it was indeed an allergic reaction.

What To Do If Ombre Powder Brows Become Infected?

Brow infections are rare but they do occur. They will often be caused by poorly trained artists or if the tools used have not been properly cleaned. 

When this happens, the skin usually forms a scab over the brow and is not allowing it to breathe, thus causing an infection. 

Signs of infected ombre brows:

  • Thick scabbing over the eyebrow area
  • Crust forming
  • Excessive redness
  • Discharge
  • Pain
  • Extreme itchiness

What to do:

If your infection is severe, seek medical attention immediately. An infection can spread to other parts of the face and body so this is important.

If the infection seems manageable, follow these instructions:

  1. Rinse your brows under warm water for at least 5 minutes. This will soften the scab and will make it easier to remove.
  2. After 5 minutes of rinsing the scab in warm water, very gently begin to rub it. It should start to come off, but if it doesn’t, soak it for longer. You must rub the scab off while rinsing under warm water, as this will cause the scab to come off without any pain, irritation, or further damage to the skin. 
  3. Once the scab has been removed, gently pat (do not rub) the eyebrows with a clean towel. 

Now that the scab has been removed, it is imperative that you take proper care of them for the next 2-3 weeks. 

Do not put any products or makeup on the area whatsoever with the exception of a facial cleanser. The only thing you may use on your skin is a moisturizer but keep it away from the brows.

Over the next 2-3 weeks, gently clean the area with soap and water (or a cleanser without any additives in it) every morning and night. 

It is normal for another smaller scab to form a few days after doing this. However, it should naturally peel off in no longer than a week. Do not pick at it, as this can cause further irritation. 

It’s rare for the infection to continue if you are taking proper care of it. But, if the infection doesn’t go away within a couple of weeks, see your physician or a dermatologist, as you may require a prescribed topical treatment. 

Are Ombre Brows Safe If You Have Skin Conditions?

Ombre brows are not suited for people with:

  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Keratosis
  • Rosacea
  • Cystic acne

Eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, or keratosis can cause inflammation, itchiness, scaling, and irritation. 

It can therefore be difficult for the ombre artist to work around this, resulting in uneven or patchy brows. 

Also, since the skin sheds so frequently, it will likely not hold the pigment as well.

For people with rosacea or cystic acne, ombre brows may also not be a suitable option as these skin conditions cause the skin to bleed easily. 

This means that the skin will likely not retain the pigment evenly causing you to have uneven brows that do not last nearly as long. 

If you have any of these conditions, still consult with your eyebrow artist to see if there’s anything they can do for you. In some mild cases, ombre brows may still be applied. 

Sunburns

Skin that is sunburnt should be completely healed before going through the ombre brow procedure. 

Since sunburns will cause the skin to peel and flake, it’ll likely cause the ombre brows to also flake off. 

This results in uneven or patchy-looking eyebrows.

Conclusion

To conclude, it is rare for powder brows to cause allergic reactions but if they do, it’s often caused by nickel used in the pigment, paraphenylenediamine, the aftercare cream, or latex gloves used during the treatment.

The best way to assess whether you have an allergy to the dye is to do a patch test at least 48 hours before your treatment.

If you do experience an allergic reaction, it’s best to contact your Physician who will be able to tell you what to do. If you think you may be getting an infection, you should also contact your doctor immediately.

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