When Milly Marques was 14 years old, she was obsessed with eyebrows. The native Brazilian recalls how people would come over after church, and she would sit on her patio, tweezing and shaping their brows. By the time she was 17, Marques was working at a salon, waxing, tweezing and as an esthetician.
In 2008, her mother developed thyroid cancer. Her thyroid was completely removed, but the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. When Marques’ mother lost her hair and teeth from the chemotherapy treatment, Marques set out to find a solution to the hair loss side effects of chemotherapy.
At the time, she was also working with clients who were dealing with alopecia (medical hair loss). Marques was filling in brows for them. It wasn’t a permanent solution, she said, but she was not drawn to tattooing. One day, she happened to see a picture on the Internet of beautiful brows filled in with tiny hair-like strokes of ink. The technique, called microblading, intrigued Marques; but it wasn’t offered in Atlanta.
She decided to travel the world to learn the technique, not only to help her mother look and feel more beautiful, but to help all brow-challenged women and men. When she returned, she introduced microblading to her mother and other cancer patients and survivors.
Microblading is typically used on eyebrows to create, enhance or reshape their appearance in terms of both shape and color. Unlike standard eyebrow tattooing done with a machine and a single needle, microblading creates each hair stroke by hand, using a blade that creates fine slices in the skin. It deposits pigment into the upper region of the dermis, so it fades more rapidly than traditional tattooing techniques. Treatments can last one to two years. A touch-up session is encouraged around six months from initial treatment.
Soon, Marques wanted to share her brow expertise with more cancer patients and survivors. She partnered with Ceca Mijatovic, a Serbian cancer survivor who has a podcast, a website (www.truthanddarecancer.com) and who coaches other women who have survived cancer. Each year in mid-October, Marques and Mijatovic select six women who have received cancer treatments, resulting in hair loss. Many of the women are chosen based on financial need, and Marques gifts her microblading services to them.
“I began this journey, with the desire to help the people I knew,” she said. “Now, people come from all over the world for my services.”
To help keep up with demand, Marques said she is now training others in microblading.
Cancer survivor Tricia Dempsey raves about Marques’ techniques.
“Post-breast cancer, I had almost no eyebrows,” Dempsey said. “If I wore a ball cap, people thought I was a man. Before meeting Milly, I was worried that my eyebrows would look like black lines, but she mixes colors to look more natural. Her skill at shaping is amazing. You can see every single hair.
“Her main focus is on after-care,” Dempsey continued. “I went to a meeting right after my treatment. I didn’t have any flaking in my eyebrows or scabs. Scabs come from slicing too deeply in the skin. Her store is so clean — absolutely meticulous. It’s the best beauty thing I have ever done.”
While microblading may seem like a luxury beauty treatment, it can have an impact beyond giving confidence to cancer patients. After many of her clients have returned to her saying their boyfriends have proposed, Marques laughed and said microblading can even lead to marriage.
Marques has been living in Atlanta for more than 20 years. With more than a decade of eyebrow-shaping experience, Marques has since perfected her own unique technique to designing beautiful, natural-looking eyebrows and has been recognized as a top master artist in microblading. She currently works at Sweet Peach Wax and Sugaring Studio in Johns Creek. You can follow her on Instagram @browsbymilly.