Sacred Brows

Comedy writer Sarah Morgan gets microbladed and finally sees what all the fuss is about

I’m sort of obsessed with eyebrows. Eyebrows can do so much heavy lifting on a face (see: Elizabeth Taylor, Brooke Shields, John Belushi-when-he-takes-off-his-sunglasses-in-Blues-Brothers, oh god oh god) whereas mine have never been much to write home about, unless you like letters about the patchy moustache favoured by Private Walker in Dad’s Army. Blame genetics, blame ill-thought-out teenage pluckings. They’re sparse. Look:

I’ve never really got the hang of eyebrow make up – it’s seems so fundamentally boring a purchase it should come free with interdental toothbrushes and dried apple rings. Smearing mouse-coloured-makeup on a mouse-coloured-part of my body seemed no fun at all (which is what make up is for, FUUUUN) and I am in technical terms, ‘not very good’ at it.
But what I am good at is being lazy and having a reasonably high pain threshold, so I was bang into the idea of a (semi)-permanent solution – enter micro-blading.

If you don’t know, micro-blading is the latest trend in permanent make-up, despite being a technique that’s thousands of years old. Unlike most other permanent make up that uses an electric needle, it uses a hand-held tool that adds each ‘hair’ a stroke at a time. The pigment is added to a different layer of skin for an ‘extra natural and soft effect’. It’s often called ‘brow embroidery’ because it’s more of a 3D look than other methods, and promises to last between a year and three.

The first appointment took about two hours. I did a lot of back and forth with a very patient technician who let me tweak and fiddle her suggested template many times over. I assume that most micro-blading clients want something that looks somewhere between natural and ‘the natural look’, ie not very natural at all, the Kardashian-y ‘I woke up like this’ Instagram version of natural. (Micro-blading isn’t cheap, and you want your money’s worth I guess.) “Your right eyebrow is higher than your left – I can fix that.” Fix righty? The only muscle I’ve ever knowingly cultivated, grown from sarcasm? No thank you.

I just wanted my eyebrows to look like, you know, normal eyebrows, like mine do after half an hour’s patient filling in with Tom Ford Brow Sculptor. “Please don’t make me look like Scarlett from Gogglebox,” I wanted to say. (I love Scarlett. I just know my own face.)
I have to admit I was fully anxious about the outcome – I couldn’t visualize it at all, because when you look at a picture of it done well, it looks like really good normal eyebrows. And, you know, FACE TATTOO.

But finally, we agreed on a template, and a shade of mouse not far from my own. So you lie down. They put on numbing cream. I won’t lie. It hurts (“uncomfortable” they say) and it’s hot and quiet and you can hear this scritch-scritch noise that sounds a little bit like hair being cut veeeeeeery slowly, and it’s about halfway through you realise what that sound actually is, which is your SKIN, your flesh, being cut veeeeeery slowly, and you feel a bit queasy. You also feel like the edge of a pie.

If you’ve ever been tattooed, which I have, like, a lot, there is no point of comparison for the situation. There’s no jolly buzzing gun, no chit chat. Just an hour of quiet scraping, happening very near your eyeballs. Bring some heavy thoughts to ponder.

I was fine until the end of the appointment, when the technician showed me the tool she’d used – it looks exactly like a tiny version of the thing you’d use to acquire lemon zest for a cocktail. A lemon zester? Exactly. A prison shiv. Something about the medieval-ness of it in a posh salon was quite thrilling, and wrong, which made me happy – oh THAT’S what’s been scraping my face for an hour. Yeah, that tracks with the hot twin throbbing in my forehead, sure.

And the results? I LOVED it. Ermagod. Like my best ever make up day. “When you come back for the top up, you might want something a bit less natural, more dramatic?” she said. “No, no! You don’t understand! My eyebrows look like people-eyebrows! This is amazing!” I shrieked. She shrugged, gave me a sachet of vitamin E cream, a detailed after-care sheet, and sent me wobbling out into Kensington High Street on a giddy adrenaline bender. (PIC two hours after leaving salon)


The next three days, I ran around pointing my face at anyone who came near me. I’d been warned that the first couple of days they would look ‘quite intense’ and fade down, but these brows were an instant classic. Out the gate. Boom. I was reborn. I had entered the BROW ERA.

Day 4, as instructed, I washed.
My eyebrows disappeared.
What?
Was this a joke? Had she just drawn them on with a Sharpie after all? There was literally no sign anything had happened, not even a scratch.
I googled around in a mad panic, and it turned out… this was a thing. It happens to some people after micro-blading. Not all. Probably just super-nails mad-healing Wolverine types like myself, I thought. I was glum.

Then I remembered the ‘top-up’ appointment, the one I hadn’t really thought about, because my life was sorted now, in the BROW ERA. I called the salon, waited (they advise clients to wait as the pigment process can take around six weeks) and returned.
On the second consult, we reviewed the photos from last time and agreed to go harder and darker. “It happens with some clients,” she said. “sexy, Wolverine-esque healing machines?” I didn’t ask.

Now I knew what to expect, the process went quicker. Afterwards, yeah, I felt sore and I looked a bit… painted. Sharpie-esque. Bit Groucho. Observe:

I waited four days. I didn’t use any cream this time, and washed gently. It went a bit flaky, like teeny dandruff.
Then after a week or so – I (literally) woke up like this. (Thank you, I am very brave. No really, thank you.)
(Sarah – interrupting this broadcast to say that the cleansing situation here is giving me a nervo – Sal)

Doesn’t my whole face just HANG off them?
Here I am, all gussied up, nothing at all done to brows.

Now I don’t remember the before time. I just look nicer. More polished. Bit less tired. Like when you get a blow dry or a manicure, I feel a bit more ‘life-ready’ in the mornings.
The fact this is a big deal to me, a person with very few actual problems in life, makes me realise how utterly life-changing this could be for someone with alopecia or going through chemo. Or, screw it, anyone who feels like they should invest in themselves and would feel happier being ‘on fleek’ (I only sort of know what this means).

And who’s to say the time I save NOT painting and pondering my brows couldn’t be spent on creating some amazing art, or helping others. Mostly though, my thoughts are consumed with what I can get tattooed on me next to save time and brain-space. Trousers, maybe, or my oyster card.
Fin.

Micro-blading costs £595 for appointment and top-up, at Tracie Giles 24 Beauchamp Pl, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1NH Traciegiles.co.uk

The SHB promise: All our treatments are trialled for free unless stated otherwise. Likewise, all products are press samples unless stated otherwise. This ensures a level playing field for all brands. Free products and treatments are never, ever accepted with the promise of favourable reviews. If we don’t like it, we don’t feature it. No exceptions, ever.

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  • degb

    Just to understand – in the first photo – those brows look very well groomed, in the sense of you don’t have any stray hairs etc – so are you saying your brows were just like that normally, or you had had them done, or plucked them yourself immediately prior to that photo being taken? And then afterwards, the brows look thicker and denser and darker – but there seem to be more actual hairs – or is that the illusion that is being created? Or have you also groomed the brows and left a thicker line of hairs naturally there? It is definitely something I would be interested in, but I would like to know exactly what the result it, as opposed to other prep for a photo. Thanks for any clarifications

    • Sarah M.

      Sarah here – I really don’t have a lot of stray hairs, it’s the lack of hairs (thinness, patchiness) that was the problem. When I took that picture (the close up after the first paragraph) I’d actually let my eyebrows grow out for a couple of weeks, including the odd tiny strays I would normally pluck, to give the salon as much to work with as possible. In the after photos, the illusion of more hairs is entirely down to the microblading – as I say in the article, when it looks good, it looks like actual hairs. If you imagine a template brow ‘shape’ laid over the shape I had in the beginning, that is then filled in, that’s the effect. My ‘real’ eyebrows were extended towards the bridge of my nose about half a cm that looks completely natural. (they also plucked a few rogue hairs on the day, which is the only maintenance my eyebrows require now – I haven’t worn any eyebrow make up since)

      It’s really hard to take photos of your own eyes, and the salon did before and after shots that I think are on their website, you’ll get a much clearer idea. All the photos on their website are, in my opinion, a very accurate portrayal of what can be achieved by the technique. (and there’s a fun slider thing that really shows what it looks like) Good luck! http://www.traciegiles.co.uk/treatments/eyebrows/

      • Degb

        Thanks for that. Anyway your brows look sensational.

  • Sarah M.

    Re: Sali’s nervo interruption. I’d like to say I was extremely cautious about doing any cleansing round my eyes in the recovery period, as the salon recommends you don’t get them wet for at least 4 days. In reality, I haven’t properly removed my eyemake up in 25 years and it would be a shock to my eyeballs to start now. Sorry.

  • RhoRho

    Sarah, can I ask where your glasses are from?

    • Sarah M

      Hello! They’re BOGOF from Specsavers (I have a 4 year old so cheap frames a must!) Frame is called Dolores I think.

  • This looks really good on you.It is totally enhancing your facial features.

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