I only ‘discovered’ eyebrows relatively late—I knew they were there, nondescript floaters on the upper half of my face, but the more obvious features tended to hog my attention; red lips, defined eyes… my eyebrows were an afterthought. Until a few years ago, that is, when I started playing with them one chilly January much like this one, and that was it—I was hooked.
Tragically for my brow-maestro-wannabe tendencies, though, I have very little to work with; naturally sparse brows that abort at the sides as though my nearing hairline has menaced them into submission. So brow amplifying, filling-in and shaping via pencil or brush became a crucial (and time-consuming) part of my daily routine—not ideal for the chronically late like me.
Step up microblading. This relatively new method of applying semi-permanent makeup uses a very fine blade to implant pigment into the epidermis, closer to the surface of the outer layer of skin than conventional tattooing, meaning the strokes appear crisp and very fine—perfect for imitating individual eyebrow hairs. The technique can also be used to outline lips and eyes, and with a huge range of mixable shades, there’s no better way to get flawless, fuller, natural-looking brows that last for up to 18 months (though you should go back in for top ups at 12 month intervals to maintain the shape).
Sian Dellar, meanwhile, not only has a decade’s experience as a permanent makeup practitioner, but was named Make-Up Specialist of the Year at The London Hair & Beauty Awards 2015, so when the chance to have her take my lacklustre brows in hand came up, I leapt at it.
Turning up at Sian’s Harley Street clinic, her lovely PA Jaya greeted me—and showed off some of the most stupendously perfect brows I’ve ever seen. Obviously Sian herself looks impeccable, but you can’t microblade yourself, so Jaya’s face is a walking advert for the skills Sian brings to the table.
There was the usual form-filling and signage there is with any cosmetic procedure, and a scratch test behind the ear to check for allergies, but most important of all the preamble, Sian talked to me about what eyebrow look I was going for, what I liked in a brow, what I disliked about my brows—building a picture even more precise than my own of what I wanted. That done, she sketched her plan directly onto my face and we consulted again about any tweaks before getting on with the treatment itself.
Having had an anaesthetic cream applied, the sensation of the microblading is an odd one—I felt nothing at some strokes, but heard them, a sound a bit like paper tearing. Others, meanwhile…I did feel. Nothing unbearable, and certainly not with the end brow goal in sight, but still quite a sharp stinging. If you’re not good with pain I’d suggest arriving early to give the numbing agent longer to work, or even applying your own beforehand to double up.
Then it’s home to tend to your brows with coconut oil and let them heal, before you return in a month for session two. This is a shorter one, as it doesn’t need the preamble of the first, but is vital as it lets Sian see how the colour and shape looks after healing and is when she really fills in all the gaps and perfects the eyebrow shape.
My second appointment was just before Christmas, so I worried that I’d be less disciplined about fiddling with my brows, with all that free time. I needn’t have, though—between jolly familial arguing, eating, drinking and games I wouldn’t have remembered my eyebrows, had it not been for the compliments I started getting about them from family—and even remotely, from friends looking at my pictures.
My mother, to whom I had mentioned the upcoming microblading, started cautioning me about how I apparently drew on my arches too high sometimes—‘You didn’t have such high brow arches when you were six!’. You have to be careful, she said, that it’s not an unnatural shape as you’ll have to live with it for a year—in fact, she suggested, how they are today looks perfect, you should take a photo of them now to use as reference for Sian when she fills them in.
If my mother can fall in love with—and be fooled by—Sian’s artistry and skills, anyone can be. I’ll be booking in again for a top up in a year.