Will our collective obsession with our eyebrows ever go away? Probably never, especially now that we have even more ways to finesse them that are less permanent and expensive than microblading, but more dramatic than using a brow gel, pencil, or pomade. Brow lamination (a slightly misleading name, but more on that later) is a way to wake up with feathery, fluffy-looking brows. You've probably seen it on Instagram, and if not, you've certainly seen the brow lamination look and likely wondered, "Hmmm… how do I get my brows to look like that Australian bikini model's brows?" In short, a perm is what it takes.
In case you thought we've run out of ways to chemically assault all of the hairs on our heads, now your eyebrows can get the same treatment. Brow lamination works the same way a lash lift does, by chemically changing the way the hairs lie on your face. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King explains how it works: "It is like a perm process to straighten the brow and groom it, as it has three parts: Break the hair keratin bond, neutralize to prevent further breakage, then moisturize." As a lash lift enthusiast, I was totally intrigued by brow lamination and jumped at the chance to try it at Blink Brow Bar in New York City.
Brows have always been something I feel really "completes" my face. If ever I leave the house without wearing any makeup, you can bet I've at the very least curled my lashes and brushed my brows. I've had them microbladed for about a year, which has faded by now, so I still like putting a little something on them (usually just brow gel) for added depth and contrast.
I prefer styling my brows to look as powerful as possible, which I was previously able to do on a daily basis with my go-to, Flower Beauty Bubble Brow, but its hold would wilt by the evening and sometimes require midday brush-ups. My brows aren't particularly dense, but they are oddly long, which makes them look all the more dramatic with a "soap brow" treatment. With brow lamination, they could look power-puffed 24/7 for six-to-eight weeks straight. Sweet.
As a cautionary measure, Blink Brow Bar does a patch test on your skin at least 24 hours before the process — makes sense since the perming chemicals are slathered directly on the skin on your face (unlike lash lifts, where it just touches the lashes). The day before my appointment, a technician dabbed the perming solution behind my ear for a minute and then removed it to make sure I didn't get a rash or have an adverse reaction to it. The next day, I was in the clear. Sure, if you're very busy and important this could be annoying, but better to take this step than have some vicious chemical reaction halo-ing your eyebrows.
Pre-treatment care is essential — if you love a fake tan, maybe skip it before getting your brows laminated. Brow Stylist and Founder of Brow Code, Melanie Marris explains: "A lot of people might not realize this, but fake tan actually affects the overall result." It's also always important to let your eyebrow specialist know of any skin medications you use or of any recent intense facial treatments you undergo before your appointment.
Of course, it was imperative to ask how these salons are handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Marris knew many of her clients would ride-or-die for their laminated brows, so she launched an at-home solution with the Brow Code Advanced Lustre Lamination Kit. "Ever since COVID hit, I've taken these health measures to the next level, bringing these strict protocols to front-of-house, making sure everyone entering the studios follows the same," she shares.
Veronica Tran, owner of Toronto-based lash and brow salon Pretty in the City tells Allure that it was always important for them to disinfect all work surfaces (including the chair where her clients sit during services), using one-time disposable supplies when they can, and cleaning and disinfecting tools that are not disposable with a hospital-grade disinfectant.
In addition to their existing rules, Pretty In The City has added protocols in response to COVID-19 that are in line with what many other salons have put in place, including providing face masks and hand sanitizer, only allowing one client in at a time, and screening staff members daily.
Salon protocol may differ depending on your location, so call ahead first if you have questions about COVID-19 safety.
Besides that, there are skin concerns to consider, too. As New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Shari Marchbein previously told Allure, putting these relaxer-type chemicals so close to the delicate skin on your eyelids can cause a major issue. "[That area] is especially prone to irritation, so harsh chemicals from this brow lamination could cause eczema, which is characterized by red, dry, itchy, and inflamed skin." She says to pay special attention to the skin-care products you're using.
A more serious side-effect to consider? The lamination chemicals getting in your eye and "potentially [causting] irreversible damage." And then still, you may accidentally over-process your brow hairs, which can damage them. All of this is to say be extra careful and be sure you're giving your brows some extra lovin' once you are able to post-lamination.
My "before" brows.
The "Lamination" Process
The process itself is very easy and takes less than an hour. First, my brow hairs were brushed upwards with an adhesive. Then, a softening lotion was applied to relax the hair cuticle, and a technician groomed them into my optimal brow shape. That was left on for 10 minutes. After that, a fixing lotion was applied for another 10 minutes to lock in the new directional hair pattern. After the fixing lotion was removed, a nourishing serum was brushed on as the last finishing touch to hydrate and condition the brow hairs. Et voilà — I had the fancy, fluffy, brows of my dreams.
Perming solution no.1 on my glued-up eyebrows
Perming solution no. 2
If you've ever had a perm of any sort, you already know — you can't get it wet for 24 hours (we all saw Legally Blonde). Water will release the chemical hold of the perm, wilting your brows back to gravity's will. This is really the only annoying part of the process, but it's worth it! I washed my face very strategically that night with a washcloth and hoped for the best.
After brow lamination
After two weeks, my brows were still reaching for the sky. The hairs seemed to lie a bit flat against my skin, but miraculously, they bended to whichever way I brushed them (meaning, I could also brush them downwards and they'd stay that way until I brushed them back up). It's not like they were in a perma-scared-stiff position. Sometimes they looked a bit janky when I woke up since I'm side-sleeper — that definitely smushed them around. But a swift brush-up with a clean spoolie brush did the trick and my brows were once more power-puffed.
[Extremely DJ Khalid voice: Anotha one]
For less than $100, I'd definitely do this again. I really love how my brows have turned into the shoulder pads of my face — they make me look powerful, like I mean business. I liken them to Farrah Fawcett's signature feathery 'do but with a subtle suggestion of a feral she-wolf: my optimal vibe. If you have thinning brows or they're just slightly unruly, brow lamination would be an easy way to make them look dramatically leveled-up. (If you search the hashtag on Instagram you'll see loads of fluffed up before and afters that show how face-changing it can be.)
Price for brow lamination varies depending on where you live but Blink Brow Bar's will run you $85 ($105 if you also want a tint).
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