We Need to Talk about … Microblading The art of eyebrow tattooing
The new way to get beautiful eyebrows is by having them tattooed. Michelle Hather finds out what it’s all about…
My eyebrows and I have had a complicated relationship. For most of my life I’ve gone au naturel. Left to their own devices, my brows are wildly asymmetrical, the right one beginning a good centimetre later than its twin, the left as straight as an arrow and refusing to arch. And then there were the breast-cancer years, when they clung on for dear life against the effects of chemo. By the end of my treatment they were patchy, greying and a little bit … sad.
I took myself off to a Bobbi Brown tutorial, in which I learnt the art of thickening with a gel, darkening with a shadow and shaping with a wand. The effect was quite eyeopening. Having groomed and darker brows made me look ready for the day and, dare I say it, younger? But soon the process became a chore. What I really needed was perfectly groomed brows 24 hours a day.
That’s when I learnt about microblading, a semipermanent tattoo. It’s also known as eyebrow embroidery – a little alarming – but, as it turns out, it’s an apt description. I was warned the procedure was a) lengthy b) painful and c) scary. But, they assured me, the results were brilliant. I decided to be brave. Karen Betts is a brow expert who has taught microblading to thousands of students. When I meet her, she tells me that Google searches for microblading have skyrocketed since the start of the year. Anyone can benefit, even women without any eyebrows due to chemo, overplucking or alopecia. Many of her clients are going through menopause and hate what the hormonal changes have done to their eyebrows. She also treats men.
A week before my appointment, she sends me a patch test to check for allergies and, reaction-free, I head for my appointment. Karen takes many photographs and asks me what I’m hoping for. Natural, I say, but natural like I was 30 years ago. Is it possible? She takes a pencil and draws her shape like an artist. Next, she mixes her colours, several shades of my own brown hair. I lie down and steel myself for the pain, but, honestly, it’s not too bad. Karen uses a cluster of fine needles to create her strokes. It feels like I’m being scratched with a pin. As she works, she sweeps on pigment plus a numbing agent that takes away most of ‘the ouch’.
An hour later, I’m looking at my new arches – and I love them. Even at this raw stage, with a touch of redness and a slight stain of the pigment, they are a revelation. My eyes seem lifted, my face is brighter. Once I’ve had a top-up in a month or so, and they settle down, I’m told they will look perfectly natural.
Postscript: and they do! I actually have to convince people my brows aren’t real. So would I recommend microblading? Well, it’s pricey (about R2 500), but the answer is definitely yes.