Thanks to the likes of Cara Delevingne, Rita Ora and the whole Kardashian klan, not to mention Rihanna’s razor thin pair on the September issue of British Vogue, having statement eyebrows has become kind of a big deal over the past few years. So, what do you do if yours don’t quite stack up? With enough treatments, products, ‘miracle’ oils to daze even the most prolific beauty buff (and put a hefty hole in your bank balance), many people have looked into more permanent solutions, such as microblading.
Over the past few years, there’s been an influx of people opting for the treatment in order to make their lives easier and to bag themselves the perfect brows, but what exactly does it entail?
The actual technique of implanting pigment into fine incisions in the skin goes back thousands of years, but gained popularity for use with eyebrows in Asia with the feathering or embroidery trend. Later known as microblading, it’s essentially tattooing, but it involves using a specialised manual hand tool.
Rather than giving you a block of colour like traditional tattooing, fine strokes are done by hand to create the illusion of real hairs, which is why those on the search for brow perfection prefer it. Many beauticians class it as semi-permanent, but with regular top-ups and great aftercare, it can last a lifetime. It’s great for those with alopecia or people who’ve gone through chemotherapy, or just for the average Josephine who’s keen to up their brow game.
Now I’m not going to try and make everyone feel sorry for me here – the reason my eyebrows aren’t brow-envy-contenders isn’t because of an illness or condition, it’s purely because I overplucked them as a youngster and they just didn’t grow back properly.
In high school, I was cruelly bullied because a) I didn’t have eyebrows and b) when I tried to draw them on, I failed miserably because I didn’t have the right tools or talent. Kids can be awful, can’t they? Having so much attention drawn to my brows gave me a bit of a complex about them, and I grew to resent them, while they didn’t grow at all.
Pre-microblading, with my natural brows and filled in eyebrows.
After many years of tinting, gallons of castor oil and sampling product after product, I’d looked into microblading as a way to solve all my problems. So, when I was offered the chance to not only have my eyebrows microbladed, but to have them done by Suman Jalaf of Suman Brows, whose clients include Poppy Delevingne and Amy Jackson, I jumped at the chance. Here’s what went down:
I arrived at the salon and was greeted by Suman, who immediately made me feel welcome; she’s one of those people you feel like you’ve known for years. We chatted about the shape I desire and because it’s been such a long time since I’ve had proper brows, I confessed that I didn’t know what my actual eyebrows should look like. She said it was no problem and that she was excited for me to see my perfect brows!
Suman started out by threading my eyebrows to remove any excess hairs and then applied some numbing cream. This took about 40 minutes to kick in before the drawing process began. Using specific measuring tools, she worked out where my brows should be, as well as what shape worked best for my face. She also showed me some colour options and let me decide which I thought would be best. As I’d pencilled in my eyebrows for so long, I’m used to having quite a dark look, so chose a darker colour, which she said was normal.
Once she was happy with the shape (which she was an extreme perfectionist about, filling me with even more confidence), I was handed a mirror to inspect her art. I was pretty stunned and outrageously excited. Although they were just an outline, I could already imagine flopping my hair into a messy bun and frolicking out of the house with no makeup on (as sad as that sounds), with not a brow-worry in the world.
The actual process was uncomfortable, but not painful. If you’ve had a tattoo (I’ve got a few), the pain is way less than that of a tattoo. If you haven’t been inked, for me it felt no worse than a light scratch. The only off-putting thing was, if I’m honest, the sound. You can hear the blade as it moves across your skin, but I soon forgot about it when I remembered how gorge my brows were about to be.
A little less than two hours later and I was all done. The skin felt a little tender but there was no discomfort to write home about. Unlike tattoos, I didn’t have any kind of stinging afterwards. I was given in-depth information about aftercare, which, to name just a few points, included using coconut oil to moisturise my new brows twice a day, avoiding makeup and the gym for two weeks (bonus) and off I went, ready to conquer the world.
They were a little heavy at first, but after a few weeks, the colour settled down and even without the top-up, were absolutely perfect. There was some flaking, just as Suman said there would be, but it wasn’t noticeable to the average guy with a cuppa on the tube. My top-up session is in a few weeks time and I have no doubts that Suman will impress once again.
For someone who has amazing eyebrows (or, well, any at all), it can be difficult to understand what a big deal this was for me. After years of hiding my eyebrows behind my hair, dreading days I’d have to put my hair up and avoiding swimming like the plague, finally, I could have some freedom. It wouldn’t be something I’d have to think about anymore.
At long last, I could pop to the shop without needing to spend 15 minutes trying to make my eyebrows look half decent, I could avoid the stress in a morning when my hands weren’t doing what my brain wanted them to do to pencil them in evenly, and I could join my friends in the pool on holiday without fear of my brows sliding halfway down my face. I’d actually have some confidence in front of my friends, family members and boyfriend without having to wear makeup.
Now, of course, I know there’s more to life than eyebrows. But, they say that the eyebrows are the frame of the face, and not being happy with my own affected me in more ways than I thought it ever could. My only regret? That I didn’t do it sooner.
You can find out all about Suman on her website and don’t forget to give her a follow on Instagram for all the amazing before and after photos.