Meg Bellemore tries out the tattoo trend that’s taken over Instagram.
If you’d asked me to get my eyebrows tattooed two years ago, I would have hung up my beauty boots there and then. In my head, eyebrow tattooing meant harsh hairless lines (Gwen Stefani and Drew Barrymore in the ’90s), only with even less dimension, paired with blue, green or even a cherry tinge. Fast-forward to 2015 and I’m sitting in a salon with anaesthetic cream cling-wrapped to my brows, eagerly waiting to get inked. If that doesn’t sound like a quarter-life crisis, I don’t know what does. But let me explain: brow tattooing has changed… a lot.
The new technique, known as micro-blading or feather-touch brow tattooing, has been available for a few years, but only really gained hashtag-worthy popularity over the past two (social media and Bambi Northwood-Blyth win again). Instead of using a tattoo gun, which penetrates pigment deep into the skin, micro-feathering involves a hand-held pen of tiny, little needles that etch fine, hair-like strokes into the skin, then natural, different-coloured pigments are applied, rather than “tattoo ink”, to create the illusion of hair. It’s much more topical than the traditional technique, which means it needs to be touched up every eight months to a year. A big commitment, right? So I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about getting it done.
I went ahead and booked in with international brow artist Amy Jean Linnehan, who I trust completely because a) she regularly shapes my brows and b) won’t tattoo unless you’re a suitable candidate. I spent a huge amount of time discussing and tweaking my desired shape with her.
The tattooing itself was actually fairly painless. The scratching sound of the pen was probably the most uncomfortable part about the whole process. Afterwards, though, I freaked out a bit. It’s very strange to suddenly be able to feel your eyebrows on your face, and catch glimpses of them in the mirror, all filled in and fluttery before you’ve even rolled out of bed. The next day, my eyelids felt a little puffy, and the colour seemed more intense, but by day two they’d settled down significantly and started flaking (not Goldmember style – just a little dryness). Eventually, over a week, it faded to a tone I love.
This process varies for everyone, depending on skin type. I’m really pleased with the final results and the five-minute sleep-in I’ve gained from not having to fill in my arches, but I’m also glad it’s a semi-permanent look. Who knows when I’ll want to up my ’90s make-up game (currently made up of Drew’s brown lip) to Gwen’s statement pencil-thin arches again? For now, though, I’m beyond happy to be reacquainted with eyebrows close to my natural shape, which is something I haven’t seen since the tweezing marathon that was my teenage years.
Everything you need to know
The initial consultation, including brow sculpting, starts at $75. The brow tattooing costs between $695 and $995 depending on the brow artist and location, and a retouch appointment within eight weeks of treatment is complimentary.
Block out at least two hours: 30 minutes to an hour for the topical anaesthetic, and an hour for the actual tattooing.
A small amount of healing ointment needs to be applied to each brow pre-shower for seven days, and it’s important to steer clear of brow make-up for five days. Avoid the sun and don’t use exfoliating agents, like AHAs, on the skin.
The ideal candidate
Someone with sparse, fluffy brows, as strokes can be added between hairs. Drier skin holds the pigment more effectively.
candidates Anyone with very oily skin; the pigment can’t hold as the oiliness dilutes its strength. And people with very thin eyebrows that are quite coarse; the subtle strokes above and below the natural brow line can look strange.
Brow guru advice
- Book in for a consultation. Collect images of eyebrows you like, then ask your brow artist to draw brows on for you – try out a few shapes. Also, take photos on the day.
- Ask how many years your brow artist has “shaped brows” before tattooing. If an artist can’t shape your brows beautifully, they won’t be able to tattoo them well.
- Before booking anything, look at your artist’s before and after photos. Ask if their social media photos are actual clients or just re-posts of another artist’s work.