Getting a Korean eyebrow tattoo treatment was on the top of my list when traveling to Itaewon, Seoul. The beauty capital of Asia did not disapoint! Read on for the full experience and cost of eyebrow tattoos in Seoul!
I remember the moment I became aware that I had poor eyebrows. It was 7 years ago, when I was pregnant with my son. A new friend was spending a few hours with me and she, being self-conscious of her own brows, randomly explained that they were a “mess” because she was growing them back out for being a bridesmaid a few months in the future. This was after thicker, more natural brows were solidly in fashion and she wanted to stay modern.
I had never wanted thick eyebrows, but she made a valid point of letting them grow back in to be able to groom in a more natural way.
I stopped tweezing after that conversation, but after two years of never touching my brows they refused to change. After years of faux arch design the hair follicles were simply dead.
I hated that.
Why I wanted microblading (AKA eyebrow tattoo & eyebrow embroidery) in Seoul
I’ve been tweezing my eyebrows since I was 12, and filling in the gaps left from said tweezing for the last couple of years. I feel so much more confident and prettier when my brows are filled in, but it’s not a convenient thing to do every day. It takes time, if I’m rushed I end up looking like a clown, the eyebrow pencils I use are expensive, the makeup eventually fades during the day, and I’m left with tiny pimples around my brows because I’m sensitive to even the most natural makeup.
Getting a semi-permanent eyebrow tattoo means I don’t have to do my brows myself anymore. Who wouldn’t jump on that?
People who aren’t up to spending $600, that’s who.
I was excited to look into Korean eyebrow embroidery done once we got to Korea, since it’s known as a beauty getaway location and usually much cheaper than the U.S. I was right: eyebrow tattoo and shading treatments are around 200,000 – 300,000 Korean won; less than half the cost in US!
Finding the right Korean eyebrow embroidery studio in Itaewon, Seoul
It’s always been the fashion in Korea to choose natural makeup. In comparison to the dramatic, sultry look of American makeup, Korean eyebrows are delicately sculpted around their natural fullness and trimmed for maintenance. Korean women may use a light eyebrow pencil to further define their natural brows, but the effect is meant to be much softer and more feminine than the dark, noticeable brows popular in other countries.
I was a little nervous to find the right beauty salon for my eyebrow tattoo in Seoul, since I’m a fan of the dramatic American-style of eyebrows. I was concerned that the studios in Seoul wouldn’t be used to American styles, and would leave me with a tattoo effect without an arch and which lacked definition.
Ultimately I stumbled on a studio that provides semi-permanent makeup just by walking around my neighborhood of Itaewon. This is known as an expat neighborhood based on its proximity to the US military base, and I’m not surprised a makeup tattoo studio was here: I bet lots of other women from America are interested in eyebrow embroidery in Seoul!
I immediately felt comfortable at Luxury Beauty Lounge. It’s both a cosmetic studio and a beauty academy. I would always prefer to put my body in the professional’s teacher’s hands!
The studio is bright, modern, and clean with very professional, helpful staff. They also have an English-speaking easthetician, Rachel, which definitely helps.
In the minutes before my appointment started I became nervous. Yes, this could be a huge thing for me in a lot of ways, but we’re still basically talking about getting a face tattoo on a foreign country!
I was made to feel comfortable before everything began, but I still had butterflies in my stomach the whole time.
The Korean Eyebrow Embroidery Procedure
Step 1: Choosing the right eyebrow procedure.
Two semi-permanent makeup artists cleaned my brows of my makeup pencil and discussed if I should get microblading (pencil-like tattoo strokes meant to look like tiny hairs in place) or shading (tattooing individual hair lines plus shading to look more filled in). They also showed me a book comparing the two procedures.
The spoke together quickly in Korean, often tilting me head and touching my brows. Rachel, the English-speaking artist, interpreted and asked me questions as necessarily.
After about 10 minutes we three agreed on the shading procedure since it requires less upkeep and I won’t be able to come back for a follow-up treatment in the recommended one month.
Step 2: Numbing Cream.
Rachel came back with a jar of numbing cream and applied a thick layer to both of my brows with new q-tips. I stayed in the lobby while it set in for 30 minutes, which was super comfortable and private. They don’t over-schedule clients, so I had the whole office and everyone’s attention to myself!
The cream felt heavy, but never hurt or became hot or anything.
After about 15 minutes Rachel came back with another swipe of numbing cream. Double dosing. I like it!
Step 3: Eyebrow shaping and outlining
As I was led to the service room I tentatively asked Rachel if she would draw an outline before beginning. She stifled a quiet laugh and replied Yes. I must look like such a paranoid American in this professional studio! I knew this was an important step in the process, and I wanted to be sure I had natural, shaped brows and not the flat Korean eyebrows which are popular in Seoul.
She cleaned my brows then began to fill them in. She showed me her work after we talked about the shape I wanted, and I was able to check the outline in the mirror for approval.
I thought they looked great but not really “me”, so I asked if the bottom line could be thinner to make the arch more prominent. Rachel explained that she had followed my natural line and that it looks thick because the numbing cream made the brow skin expand. Once the cream wore off the line would be thinner.
I approves the design and she sent me to lay down on a table at the opposite side of the room.
Step 4: Eyebrow Embroidery (tattoo) and Shading
I knew this was going to be good when I moved to the table.
I unexpectedly caught my reflection in a mirror and was startled at how good the person staring back at me looked. Rachel did a great job with the outline. If she tattooed it in correctly the results would be great!
Before she began I sat on the table, facing her, while she used a pen to define the outline. I then laid down and she began.
She spent a couple of minutes scratching my left brow then added another numbing gel and a swipe of pigment over it.
She worked on the right brow for a couple minutes, then added the numbing gel and pigment to that side. She alternated in this way about 6 times. That way neither brow was scratched to smithereens at any one time, and the continuous gel treatments kept the pain at bay.
After every couple of passes Rachel would ask me to sit up so she could continuously check the progress in different light. She would add pen lines carefully, and I really appreciated her attention to detail.
Step 5: Final Eyebrow Check
When she was done Rachel asked me to take a look at myself in the mirror.
The result was incredible. I looked great and was so happy I actually felt like I might cry!
There was one spot that was a still a bit open, which I asked Rachel to fill in a little more. She did, then she and the other artist stared at me for a few minutes and slowly added another line here and there.
The attention to detail… seriously. I don’t think I or anyone else will ever look at my brows with so much care!
Final Thoughts on getting a Korean eyebrow tattoo in Seoul
I can not say in words how happy I am.
When I saw myself in the mirror I honestly had to choke down tears. Instead I just kept saying, “They’re so good! They’re so good!” and gave Rachel, laughing, high fives.
Rachel was right, the slight swelling in my brows from the initial numbing cream went down by the time she finished and they were in the same shape I fill in on my own but way, way better.
It’s an incredible feeling to have someone care about the thing that makes you self conscious and do everything they can to make it go away. Yes, I paid for this service, but I honestly felt like I was given a gift. The gift of time, attention, patience, and skill.
I can’t say if other studios are as great as Luxury Beauty Lounge is, but I can recommend microblading in Seoul 100%!
Microblading results: Was getting eyebrow embroidery in Seoul worth it?
I absolutely loved my eyebrows after my tattoo procedure in Seoul. The tattooed areas scabbed slightly for a few days, but I still felt like a gorgeous goddess.
For about 6 weeks.
That’s right… all the confidence that comes with waking up beautiful (to me, at least!) started to disappear within two months of microblading. That confidence was replaced by confusion, frustration, and, ultimately, betrayal.
What went wrong? Why didn’t the tattoos last? Was it a flaw in the procedure, or was my skin impervious to the ink?
I collected a lot of stories of other bright-eyed American girls eager to be made beautiful in Korea who all reported the same results. We don’t know why, but eyebrow embroidery just doesn’t seem to last.
The studio suggested an initial touch-up after one month, and recommends another at 6 months and 1 year. I wasn’t able to make the one-month touch-up based on my travel schedule, and I do wonder what impact that had on the longevity of my eyebrows.
The tattoo is advertised as gradually fading between 6-12 months, but I can’t help but think that estimate is a stretch. Many others had the same experience I did, after all, so there must be something wrong with the marketing.
While I’m depressed that the results didn’t last (especially considering the cost of eyebrow embroidery!), I did love the results. This experience was one year ago, and every now and then I find myself thinking about my Seoul microblading experience and wondering if I should give eyebrow tattooing another try. I don’t think I will, based on the pain, cost, and short-lived results, but I do fervently wish it had lasted longer.
Waking up feeling like your best self is such a blessing, no matter how long it lasts!
Where to get eyebrow embroidery in Seoul
I did not receive my microblading from LBL for free nor was I paid for this review. As stated, I simply walked in off the street and made an appointment. Nothing in my review has been embellished in the least, and I’ve only written this review in hopes of helping another clumsy ex-pat get her cosmetic wish.
I have heard from other beauty lovers in Seoul that Luxury Beauty Lounge is on the expensive side for permanent makeup tattooing. Others have found salons closer to Gangnam for 150,000 – 200,000 won, so it’s worth it to do some research if you’re willing to travel for a better deal. For me, I love love love the service I received there and the end result, and I didn’t mind paying so much to be able to walk there from my apartment!
If you are in the Itaewon area or are willing to travel here, I wholeheartedly recommend making an appointment with Rachel at LBL!
- Phone: 02-790-1196
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Address: 3rd floor Indong Building 136-46, Itaewon Dong Yongsong Gu, Seoul
- My shading microblading session was 300,000 won ($264)
If you’ve had eyebrow tattoos done in Korea I want to hear about your experience!
If you have any questions about my microblading in Seoul please leave it in a comment. I would love to help!