ICYMI, Bella Thorne recently Snapchatted her way through a beauty procedure known as "microblading" that took her face from Gorgeous Teenage Actress to Extra-Gorgeous Teenage Actress. The procedure is actually a modern twist on permanent makeup, applied ever-so-delicately in the form of strokes that resemble single hairs.
Bella did it at a Los Angeles salon by the no-nonsense name of Microblading L.A. That's where I live... so I had to go try this thing for myself.
Júlia Faria Elmassian performed the procedure for Bella. She's the apprentice of salon owner Lindsey Ta Brender, who did my brows herself. Cool thing? Lindsey is literally the world champion microblader: She even has a trophy from an Amsterdam competition to validate the claim.
If you didn't know about the World Microblading Championships, you are forgiven: Few people outside of Asia (where it began) and Europe (where it's been popular for about six years) knew about microblading at all until 2015, when the trend took off like a rocket and Google searches for the term went off the charts.
Of course, Bella's latest in-depth social media sharing will only continue to increase interest in the treatment.... as it spawns stories like this one.
Now, let's get back to my experience so I can walk you through what microblading is really like.
I arrived at Microblading L.A., in the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles, to find a salon way more tricked out than I expected. This is the brand new location of a business that knows it's growing—and fast.
Lindsey first sat me down and answered my many questions. Mainly, I wanted to know if the effect is permanent—not wanting to get stuck with full eyebrows in 10 years if the trend circles back around to favor super-thin ones. She clarified that, unlike traditional tattoos, microblading is applied to a more superficial layer of skin. So you can expect it to last for as long as three years, depending on your skin and lifestyle.
Next, she got started drawing a perfectly symmetrical shape on my eyebrows with the precision of a surgeon. She sharpened her pencil with a razor blade to keep the lines just so, until we were mutually happy with the look.
Once that part was settled, she used an additional pencil to draw a series of vertical lines that would help serve as her guide; it would indicate in which direction she should sketch each hair to mimic the look of natural brows most closely.
Next, she applied a topical numbing cream and gave it time to work while I sat on the chic white sofa and banged away on my laptop using the salon's wi-fi network. (An editor's work is never done, and this process involves a big time commitment!)
At last, it was time for the actual micoblading. Lindsey led me to a treatment room that was far from sterile, but felt more like a plush spa. There was even a cozy grey blanket to cover me up against the overly ambitious air conditioner.
I was expecting a scary buzzing machine, but microblading is actually performed with a hand tool, at the end of which is a delicate tip comprised of needles. Lindsey got to work dipping that tip into a custom blend of ink and then drawing between 70 and 100 individual hair strokes on each of my brows; her strokes felt precise but artistic. Her expertise is why her price for the service is $900. Júlia, who performed Bella's service, charges $700.
Was it painful? I've carried and birthed twins, so I'd say no in comparison. It wasn't even painful on the scale of waxing or threading. I did, however, feel similar discomfort as being in a dentist's chair. It's always disconcerting when you know someone is scraping away with sharp objects at delicate bits in your head, even if that scraping is celebrity-approved.
And then, it was time for the reveal. Lindsey arranged it with Hollywood drama, getting her camera as well as my own iPhone ready to capture my reaction in stills and videos for her ever-growing Instagram archives that attract people to travel from all over the world, who might require tons of evidence before trying permanent makeup.
Without further ado... voila! Here's the before and after:
I loved how the result was plenty natural looking, but increased my arches. And it also added symmetry to my eyes, whose asymmetry I had noted before.
I'd put my result in the subtle category: It's less dramatic than microblading would be for someone with thin or no eyebrows (for instance, someone with alopecia), or for someone who wanted to go with a very bold look. And I'd say you'd have to be mere inches from my face to identify that my groomed look is anything but ordinary makeup (or good-eyebrow genetics). Let's review the process:
Last, Lindsey plied me with after-care instructions. For one thing, there should be no water or soap near the brows for a week afterward. I should also avoid sweating—alas, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Angeleno, so spinning would be a requirement. (But I didn't mention that.)
She did say that the healing would be a process, which is complete after around 30 days. That's when people would typically come back for a touchup to firm up their final shape for good. What I didn't consider was that—although the process required no hide-from-society downtime—I wouldn't recommend people do it right before an important event. As the hair strokes form small scabs, the brows look darker, so it turned out that I was rocking pretty bold brows for my wedding anniversary date just two days later.
All told? I love my brows for now, and I'm glad I don't have to commit to a given shape for the rest of my life, like old-school permanent makeup... which I never would have done. I'm also pretty thrilled to have a clean, fresh, and natural look that makes me feel pulled together even as a super-busy working mom who needs all beauty boosts to be low maintenance. I'm totally on board with microblading. Thanks for the amazing work, Lindsey. And thanks for the tip, Bella!
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