Eyebrows have never been bigger. In both a figurative and a literal sense, brows have become huge in recent years.
Perhaps because the only way to go was to go large following the sad little plucked caterpillars of the Noughties, or perhaps eyebrows – like the popular hemline theory – are reflective of the economic times. Most likely, it had something to do with the meteoric rise of Cara Delevingne and her power brows.
Whatever it was, brows have become so popular that they are now firmly a beauty focus in their own right. Today, as well as brow pencils and brow powder, we have entire salons dedicated to plucking, threading and tinting.
The latest? Brow tattooing. We’re not talking the dodgy blue lines scribbled across the foreheads of Nineties goths, we’re talking a natural looking full brow, a procedure designed to make the most full and natural looking eyebrows day in, day out. The process known as microblading is skyrocketing brows into the stray hair stratosphere.
The process, which creates semi-permanent brows, thickens thinning brows or draws on new brows for those without any, is becoming so popular that there are waiting lists to get it done. But what exactly does it involve?
What is microblading?
Microblading is a semi-permanent tattooing procedure designed to bring volume to sparse and thin eyebrows.
Originally a method for alopecia and cancer patients to reshape their brows, the treatment is now a readily available beauty solution for those seeking a fuller look.
Although the word tattooing might suggest a commitment as daunting as taking on a hefty mortgage, the new technique is considered so subtle and natural-looking that it dispels any concerns about dodgy errors.
“Microblading is a form of cosmetic tattooing which is also known as micro-pigmentation,” says Laura Kay, a microblader and instructor based in Hertfordshire.
“The procedure, which is carried out by a hand tool, rather than a machine, It’s done with a little make little cuts into the skin, which are not dissimilar to papercuts. The cuts are filled with pigment, making for a realistic eyebrow adjustment.”
Does it hurt?
Although tiny eyebrow papercuts don’t exactly sound like anyone’s idea of heaven, numbing oils and treatments are said to make the procedure more than bearable.
“There’s numbing techniques on the market now, so most people won’t feel much through the treatment at all,” says Louise Bannigan of Epibrow.
“It’s a little bit scratchy and some find it painful, but other clients don’t at all,” says Kay.
There is one unexpected reaction, however.“Clients tend to sneeze during microblading, because the brow line is a sensitive area,” explains Kay.
Kay assures that in spite of the movement, the blades can still make graceful, coordinated movements that create symmetrical and natural arches.
How long does it take, and how long does it last?
Microblading lasts from 1-2 hours per session, and generally includes a follow-up appointment to further etch out the line a week later.
“How long it lasts can vary on client – the average lifespan is about 12-18 months,” says Bannigan.
How much does it cost?
The procedure can cost anything from £250 - £450 depending on your location. While some salons include the first treatment and the top up appointment in that price, others charge on session-by-session basis.
Even though it’s tempting, the experts warn against getting discounted procedures.
“Think before you click on a voucher site to procure discounted treatment – is it discounted for a reason?” says Kay.
What you should know
Both microbladers agree that if someone’s going to be tattooing your face, it’s imperative that you do your research.
“Make sure the person you go and see is a brow artist who understands that being an eyebrow artist is key to microblading, because that’s the best way to achieve facial symmetry,” says Bannigan.
“Also, make sure you see a portfolio of the microblader’s work. Any professional should give you a full consultation and a patch test. Some people have one day courses, so make sure you go to a reputable salon,” she added.
“Do your research, definitely” says Kay.
“It’s essential that the microblader draws on the shape first and you both agree to it before starting the procedure.”