I have rubbish eyebrows.
I was one of the infamous 90s over pluckers (I was 12 and there was nobody around to educate us tweens properly back then) in addition to this I kind of ‘play’ with my brows as a kind of comfort mechanism which is made them extra crazy and sparse.
I’m also rubbish at doing things to my eyebrows to make them look half decent. I’ve tried every kind of powder, pencil and wax (to the tune of hundreds in f pounds I’m sure) read hundreds of blog posts and watched as many YouTube tutorials, but I still haven’t been able to master the illusive #BrowsOnFleek
After being self conscious for years I decided a few months ago that I wanted to get some expert help, so I turned to the brow queen of the Hull and East Yorkshire area, Gemma Winstanley.
I’ve never showed my bare brows to the internet before! They don’t look quite as awful from the angle of this photo, however you can see that they are pretty spares and short. I’m not wearing any makeup because I had the day off work so decided to give my face a break, but it’s absolutely fine to wear your usual products when having the procedure.
Next came stencilling of the shape. This picture is a lot smaller because it was cropped to hide my double chin and resting bitch face!
Gemma spent a lot of time making sure the shape was absolutely spot on, so I trusted she’d picked the right one before I even saw it for myself. One of my brows is slightly lower than the other so this was accounted for; the outline looks a little larger to account for shrinkage of the tattoo line (I know, weird right) although all strokes are kept inside the drawn out shape.
Then came the procedure itself. I have a HUGE phobia of needles so was pretty anxious, however Gemma had shown me her equipment during the initial consultation so I knew what to expect. I have a bit of a low pain threshold so was worried I wouldn’t be able to bear the pain (I even asked her to a bit on each side so they’d still be even if I needed to tap out) but I found it completely bearable – it was a very fine, yet occasionally sharp, scratching sensation. After the initial strokes were in Gemma was able to numb my brow area and then I didn’t feel a thing.
Well, that was until the rubbing alcohol was applied. Damn, that smarted!!
A light/medium colour was used as I was worried they’d end up too dark (There is the option to darken up in a later session) and applied using a manual process (i.e. no machines). It sounds very much like a finger running along comb teeth, which gets louder when covers a section that has more hair.
After treatment 1
After the entire treatment had finished my brow area was extremely sore, like a bad sunburn. However by the time I arrived home (about 40 minutes later) that has reduced significantly to a milder soreness. Another hour later and it was gone completely.
Now Gemma had done her job, I had to do mine. As part of the aftercare I needed to clean my brow area with cooled boiled water a few times per day, before applying a conditioning balm to help them heal well. For the first few days some of the pigment will appear on the cotton pad after wiping, which is just the excess coming away from the treated area.
The soreness returned a teeny bit for the next 2/3 days, which is normal, and I continued to aftercare. Then, after 3 days, part of my brow literally disintegrated as I was applying the balm.
As you can imagine, I freaked don’t just a little bit. After a quick message to Gemma including this delightful photo, she assured me that this sometimes happens and I hadn’t done anything wrong. Just keep at it, and fill in missing areas with pencil until my next treatment.
Treatment 2 (Gemma and I both forgot to take pics of this stage, oops)
On going back for my next appointment, I discovered there had been a bit of an epic fail in my healing process. Part of this was my fault – I had mistaken some of the dead skin on my brows as scabs that needed to heal so hadn’t cleaned them away, which had led to the pigment not taking hold properly and my skin becoming a flaming mess. The other part of the problem was just unfortunate – I seemed to have had a reaction to the conditioning balm that made my skin extra red and flaky.
I was sent home to return a couple of weeks later to apply the next lot of strokes, after being advised by Gemma to switch to coconut oil for the conditioning.
When I came back everything had healed much better and the second lot of strokes were applied with darker pigment, which took less time to do (about 35 mins v 50/60 mins the first time). This time, the pain was heightened a little due to there already being an ‘open wound’ when product was being applied. Again, after the skin had been broken numbing cream could be applied and took the sensation away. Then it was the same rubbing alcohol and sunburn like feeling.
I was a lot braver with my brow care this time and made sure the area was cleaned gently but firmly twice per day and followed up with coconut oil. I noticed the results were better immediately, and the pigment took hold much more easily.
The only downside to the coconut oil was that it would slide throughout the day and destroy any attempt at eye makeup; even when only using a tiny bit and wiping the area underneath thoroughly did little to help.
Before treatment 3
As you can see, the pigment definitely established after the second go, but still needed a bit more ‘oomph’ to get it to stay put. Over the course of the month I’d still felt as I could manage without product in the brow area though which has been brilliant, it saved a hell of a lot of time getting ready is the mornings!
After treatment 3
As this was a fresh wound that had now been aggravated twice, the pain went up just a little bit more again, to the point were even the numbing cream didn’t take it away completely.
This time the healing process was much quicker and less “messy” there was less scabby fallout or flaking skin. I kept up the wiping and coconut oil application for a couple of weeks, then went to just applying coconut oil in the evenings for another weeks or so.
How do they look now?
Overall I’m mostly pleased; I feel more confident going out without eyebrow makeup in the daytime and it takes less time to do my make up (not to mention how much money I’ve saved on brow products that I use, break, re-purchase and lose).
However – it has been a little tricky to get the pigment to ‘take’ to my skin so they’re not perfect like they were immediately after each treatment, parts of the pigment simply peeled off without leaving any colour whatsoever, which sadly I think is just bad luck as we had three sessions of treating the area. More than a bit annoying for the amount of money it cost, but unfortunately just “one of those things”.
My overall aim now is the keep conditioning the area in the hope that this will maintain the colour of the pigment for as long as possible and encourage hair growth in the sparse areas at long last.
Cost and advice
My treatment with Gemma cost £350 – this included 1 consultation and up to 3 treatment sessions. This was split into instalments – £20 to secure the consultation, £80 after consultation to secure 3 treatment sessions (both non-refundable) and the final balance after treatment 1. Top up treatments are charged at £175 and include 2 sessions.
If you’re considering microblading, these are my top tips
– Be sure: this is pretty permanent and costly procedure, so take some time and give it some serious thought before you take the plunge.
– Pick a reputable and qualified practitioner: this is a procedure on your face, and a pretty permanent one at that, so do your research and find the best person for the job. View results of their work and ask people you trust for recommendations. As Gemma herself says, the end result is like a billboard showing the quality of her work.
– Be prepared to wait: both for the treatments and the end result. If they’re good at what they do, it’s likely that they’ll be busy and therefore not have appointment straight away (unless you’re lucky and manage to get a last minute cancellation). From booking my consultation I had to wait around 8 weeks for the first available appointment, then another 6 weeks for the first available treatment session. Each treatment is 4 weeks apart to allow your brows to heal and then ‘settle’ into the pigment. You may also have short periods where your brows don’t look their best whilst they’re healing, as I did.
-Ask questions: about anything you’re not sure of. A good practitioner will have answers for you and be more than happy to speak to you on the phone/online about any concerns between treatments.
-Consider a trainee practitioner: I don’t make this suggestion lightly! There are opportunities to receive the treatment from someone who is in training that will be supervised by someone qualified throughout, which would come at a reduced cost if you’re unable to afford the kind of price I paid. If this is something you’d consider then any research you do should focus on the training academy and the supervising practitioner; reputable establishments will not allow someone to practice on a real person if they don’t have faith in their ability and are in hand to assist if anything didn’t go quite as smoothly as planned. That said there is always a risk, as there is with anybody carrying out a cosmetic procedure, that something could go wrong, which is why you should be sure you want to start the process.
I hope sharing my experiences have provided a more real insight into microblading overall, whether this encourages or dissuades you from doing it.
Thanks for reading,