Chasing the Perfect Brow

July 27, 2019
Legendary beauty Audrey Hepburn's iconic eyebrows

In my pursuit of the perfect brow, I’ve done some crazy things. From Nair (not recommended) to over-plucking to zero re-growth to microshading, I’ve been there. I want this post to help you avoid the mistakes I’ve made so that you can achieve your own personal best when it comes to your brows.

My latest experience was with microshading, initally done last summer, with a fall followup and a touchup 1 year later. Overall,  it’s been positive in that my brows do look better than they did before, but next time, because my brows are both patchy and fair, I’ll choose an artist who does both microblading and shading, so I can get the natural hairlike strokes of microblading at the inner and outer edges, plus the ombre effect of microshading to add drama and fullness to my arches.  I wish I’d chosen a different artist for other reasons as well, which brings me to a list of several things to think about before you get your brows done:

1. Are you a good candidate? Any ethical artist will advise you honestly, and if she fails to mention the potential downside + upkeep, she may be more concerned with her bottom line than your well being. Ask yourself: do you have very sparse brows/no brows, or are you basically happy with them and just want some minor tweaks? If it’s the latter, then you may want to look for another solution as microblading will fade and you will have color shift so you need to be prepared for touchups to neutralize it and fill in faded spots. I was willing to commit to this because my brows are so sparse, but if you are already blessed with full brows consider alternatives to microblading/shading such as tinting. If you have oily skin + large pores or if you like to spend a lot of time in the sun, microblading/shading may not be for you as it will fade quickly. And if you’re low on iron, your body will take the iron it craves from the iron oxide pigment in your brows, worsening discoloration. Bottom line: assume that there will be some degree of permanency + color shift with microblading/shading and either prepare for regular maintenance or search for less permanent alternatives if you’re basically happy with your brows and just want minor changes.

2. Choose the right artist  check her technical proficiency by poring over tons of her Instagram pics and reviews and ensure that she’s licensed, and meet with her first to assess her personality to see if she respects her clients. My biggest mistake was skipping the consultation and going to an artist based solely on her Instagram + Google reviews. She argued with me in the makeup phase when I told her not to extend the inner brow corner past the outer edge of the corresponding nostril, and then she ignored me  + tattooed it as she’d drawn it. Any artist who argues with her client is a huge red flag – RUN, don’t walk away. Another red flag: the tech is using a stencil instead of hand drawing your brow shape, not good. Use your consultation to weed out control freaks: does she truly listen and offer polite feedback, or does she argue and remain focused on what she wants? Also, ask to see pictures of her work at different stages, not just new but also healed brows so you can see what your future brows will look like

3. Microblading + shading are not pain free please know that you will experience some pain, even though your tech should apply numbing cream prior to the procedure

4. Sterility is Key ensure that the salon is clean and uses sterile instruments, they should be prepackaged and single use only, ensure that your tech always wears gloves and changes them after each client. Ask in advance what their infection control procedures are to ensure they have a solid protocol in place

5. Factor in Downtime  your brows may look like they were drawn on with a Sharpie for the first 2 weeks even with a quality job, and you will have scabbing/peeling, so plan your appointment well in advance of any important events. You may want to book off work if possible, or you may have a job where you can get away with a trucker hat. You will probably feel self-conscious about your new brows for at least the first 2 weeks, so plan accordingly

6. Don’t Cheap Out! Some things are worth spending extra $$$ on for a quality job, and your brows are one of them. Expect to pay anywhere from $350 to $700 depending on location for a job well done. If necessary, take the time to save, trust me, it’s worth it, you do not want to look like these poor ladies

7. Expect Fading remember that your brows will fade over time (1-3 yrs) and plan on touchups, ask your tech in advance if the initial charge includes a touchup. Be prepared for color shift, because as your brows fade they will often turn a pink or orangey color, but this can be at least partially prevented with proper sun protection

8. Be Patient most artists who are great at what they do are in demand, some are booked months in advance. It’s worth the wait because you don’t want that sick feeling when you look in the mirror and you see what looks like a demented clown staring back, and laser tattoo removal is painful, costly, and can cause hair loss + scarring. Saline solution removal is also costly, up to  $1000+ for badly botched brows. It can be hard to wait, but patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to your brows

9. Semi-permanent may last longer than you think  even though microblading and shading are touted as semi-permanent procedures, this is, after all, a tattoo, so be prepared for the possibility that parts of it could remain well after the 3 year mark, so think long + hard before you take the plunge

With all that said, microblading/shading can be a great choice for many women, and it can even be life changing for some, especially for those who suffer from alopecia or trichotillomania or have been through cancer treatment. The key is to first establish that you’re a good candidate for the procedure, do your research, have realistic expectations, and choose a talented artist with a proven track record who wants to work with you, not just on you.



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