I first got my eyebrows waxed when I was in the fourth grade, where the aesthetician my mother and sister frequented put the tiniest bit of wax above the bridge of my nose, removing the Greek unibrow and finally creating two separate brows, just in time for my sister’s wedding. As I grew older, I took matters into my own hands and swapped the spa aesthetician for bi-weekly visits to various nail salons, where I cut my bushy Greek brows down to thin, defined arches, which were very much in style in the 90s and early 00s. As if waxing, plucking, and threading my brows down weren’t enough, when I got to college I also started to dye them to match the same shade of blonde that I favored on top of my head – I honestly don’t know who I thought I was fooling, however, at the time you probably couldn’t have told me otherwise…I thought they looked good – and, considering the beauty standards at the time, I wasn’t terribly wrong. How was I to know that one day I would long for the fuller, darker brows I was born with?
The one thing no one tells you when you’re younger: eventually, over time, if you pull something out enough, (say, on a bi-weekly basis for over a decade), it just won’t grow back…and while that isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, (trust me, I’ve never mourned my unibrow), as I got older and I began to understand my facial structure, I longed for the days I had bigger brows to work with. #RIP.
I spent years trying to define my eyebrow shape, however, I eventually gave up – the hair just didn’t grow in anymore. Trimming them and penciling them in was really the only maintenance they required, save for a few plucks here or there when a random hair would finally surface – it was a sad existence for a beauty aficionado who was trying to make it work during a decade defined by bold brows, only to discover that I really didn’t know what I had until it was gone.
After the frustration and the anger came the acceptance phase, and I was content spending 10 minutes a day heavily filling in what I did have with the Urban Decay Brow Beater pencil – that is, until I started hearing chatter about microblading.
My initial thought was, “Wait, tattooing makeup is a thing again?” The cringe-inducing thought brought back the constant reminders of permanent makeup gone wrong that I would randomly encounter on a stranger in a salon, at a store counter, or on the subway. Was I desperate enough to consider something so…permanent?
While I shamelessly love to try any new beauty trend committing to any look forever just wasn’t my beauty MO, but after a little research, I decided to give it a go and visited Kendra Bray at Better Brows NYC – and I would be lying if I said the day of my appointment wasn’t riddled with anxiety as I second-guessed my decision. Luckily for me, Kendra talked me through the entire process and cleared up all the misconceptions I had about the treatment. “Microblading differs from permanent brow tattooing in that it uses a hand tool and not a machine. A microblade is made up of a bunch of tiny needles aligned in a row to a create a blade. It allows the artist the ability to have a lot of creative control in hairstrokes,” she explained...and it also isn't going to last forever! The procedure doesn't go as deep as a traditional tattoo, so it only lasts from 1-3 years, (depending on the person's skin and how they take care of their brows post-treatment).
I sat back and relaxed while Kendra assessed my current situation by measuring my brows. She marked the sparse areas she planned to fill in and we both looked over the area to confirm I was happy with the direction before she got to microblading. While I still have a relatively full brow, we aimed to make my eyebrows more symmetrical and fill in scant areas.
Next, Kendra mixed the perfect shade to match my brow while a numbing agent began to set in. Once she had the perfect hue, (using all-organic dye), she got to work.
Before I tell you about the actual process, I need to be honest with you: I don't have a very high tolerance for pain, so at first it did hurt, but it was totally manageable, (and this is coming from someone who barely made it through their first and only Brazilian wax experience). I never felt the need to stop the procedure and as we continued I got used to it. Now, looking back, I remember it as a pinching sensation.
Once she was finished, I was in awe of my fuller brows...I was looking at the eyebrows I spent years longing for. After my appointment, I diligently followed Kendra’s follow-up care, which meant I skipped out on vigorous workouts and avoided water like a feline. She says: “Don't get the brow area wet for at least the first week. Let the area heal naturally and avoid picking and exfoliating. Avoid makeup near the brow area for at least the first week.”
I applied Neosporin the second evening and made sure to keep the area clean and clear. She told me to be prepared for scabbing, but it wasn’t something I could actually see, because it just blended in with my brows. Once the scabs fell off, however, the brows seemed way lighter than they did on the day of my initial treatment, but Kendra explained that it’s all part of the healing process. Although you may love the way your brows look the day of your treatment, that’s not what you should expect to see when the process is complete. What you’re looking at that first day is essentially an open wound. When you completely heal after both sessions you’ll see your skin grow over the area you microbladed, which gives you that natural, born-with-it look.
While I’m obsessed with anti-aging creams and exfoliating, all of the rules that I’m used to applying to my face couldn’t be applied to my brows, because I didn’t want the skin to regenerate so quickly over the treatment area – I wanted to prolong the look of the treatment for as long as possible. Kendra explains, “Avoid acids, anti-aging creams, and exfoliants in the brow area. All of these will fade your brows sooner. Once healed, you can put SPF on the brow area, as the sun will also cause early fading.”
In six weeks I went back to see Kendra for my follow-up appointment, where she assessed how my brows were healing and touched-up the areas that needed a bit more filling in. Now, months after my microblading experience, I couldn’t be happier with the results. I’ve also managed to save so much time that used to be spent filling in my brows.
Thinking of going through with the process? Be sure to do your research. While anyone hoping to achieve fuller brows is a great candidate, there are certain individuals who should steer clear, and that’s “Anyone that is currently taking Acutane, blood thinning medications, or has skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis on the face,” Kendra adds.
Most reputable technicians will have a plethora of ‘before’ and ‘after’ images of their work and they’ll be able to answer all of your questions. “To prepare for your first appointment, spend time researching artists in your area. Every artist will have a different aesthetic and you want to make sure it matches with your own. Also confirm that the artist is certified, licensed, and insured,” Kendra says.