26 Feb

Did you know that stretching the skin properly is one of the most important yet most overlooked and under-taught skills in PMU?Do you have skippy lines or blank and uneven spots? The lack of a great stretch may be a contributor! Unless you stretch properly and get the skin pinned down firmly, the quality of your deposit will be subpar and inefficient. This is the cause of one of the biggest frustrations and complaints heard from PMU artists - not being able to “get the color in the skin”.Unfortunately, this skill is under-taught because most of the focus is aimed at the tattooing technique but know that the final tattooing result largely depends on the effectiveness of the stretch of the opposing hand.

What is a good stretch? It’s when the skin is stretched taut like a drum and there is NO BOUNCE in the skin during tattooing. 

When a good, taut, stretch is in place, it flattens the skin, allowing the needle to enter easily and create clean and smooth lines, pixels, and shading. What you get is a clean pigment deposit, less trauma, great retention, and shorter working times.

When your stretch is subpar, it causes you to press harder to implant the pigment which in turn, implants the pigment too deep, resulting in poor healed results.

Here’s an example of this theory in everyday life: imagine trying to write down a phone number on a loose napkin. Then, contrast that with writing on a napkin that you hold and pin down firmly. On the loose napkin, your pen will skip around, unable to form smooth numbers and curves while you retrace faint numbers, tugging at the napkin. You will press harder trying to write better but to no avail. Now, contrast that to writing on a flat napkin that you hold down firmly - you’re able to write smoothly and effortlessly, without having to press hard or retrace. Big difference right?

The goal of proper stretching is to create TENSION. Imagine an inflated balloon vs. a deflated balloon. If you were to pop these balloons using a needle, which balloon requires more force/pressure?

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The inflated balloon’s “skin” is under a lot more tension, so it will pop as soon as it’s pricked. Only the tip of the needle needs to touch the surface of the inflated balloon, whereas the deflated balloon will require more force/pressure to pop.

The same theory can be applied to any PMU procedure. When you are stretching the skin in taut stretches, you are applying TENSION to the skin and less pressure is required to implant the pigment as only the tip of the needle needs to touch the skin.

When the skin is not fully stretched, more pressure is required to implant the pigment as there is less tension in the skin. As a result, needle insertion will be deeper and uneven. This will cause more pain and trauma to the skin and yield uneven healed results.

Here are the signs of good stretching:

  • The stretched area is across 1-2cm of skin at a time
  • No wobble or movement in the area at the junction where the needle hits the skin
  • Pores are flattened out
  • Wrinkles are completely flattened out
  • The skin is void of bounce during needle movement/impact
  • Healed results show smooth, continuous lines/shading with no breaks/holidays

Here are the signs of bad stretching:

  • The stretched area is across more than 2cm of skin at a time
  • The skin is wobbling/moving as the needle hits the skin
  • Wrinkles are not flattened out and in the pathway of the needle
  • Healed results show breaks and skips of color in the skin
  • Healed results show bare spots with missing color
  • You are pressing down into the skin rather than across the skin
  • Your hand is cramped or fatigued

1. Work in small stretches

The quality of your stretching will determine the quality of your healed work. It is really important to develop or adapt your technique to encompass these stretching habits:

  • Isolate your stretch in 1cm - 2cm sections
  • The 3-point stretch consists of using two fingers of the non-working hand, and the pinky of the working hand that is holding the microblade or machine.
  • Use your thumb and forefinger OR thumb and middle finger of the non-working hand to stretch while anchoring your pinky of the working hand on the brow bone. This way, your pinky will help you stabilize your working hand while stretching.
  • Adjust your finger position and move the stretch as you enter each new section. You can also adjust your sitting position to allow for a better stretch. For example, when working on the front of the brow, you can adjust your seat position to be on an angle and stretch on an angle to allow more room for your pinky fingers to sit.
  • Use the client's brow bone to get a better stretch. You can pull the ends up and forward onto the brow bone for better stretch and stability.
  • Mature skin will require more stretching than younger skin since it is looser. Ensure you extra-stretch well so that the skin is taut.

When the 3-point stretch is done properly with microblading, you can instantly see the strokes in the skin. Look for the proper depth into the upper dermis, which I call the “sweet spot”. 

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