For as long as I can remember, I have always had super thin eyebrows and like most Asian women I blame my mother. In the 80s, my mother Grace, came home one night with eyebrows that looked like someone had sharpied them in. I thought it was a joke! I had never seen anything like it. I was in tears from laughing at her! Why in god’s name would she do that? She too was cursed with the thin, shitty brow and she took matters into her own hands by having them tattooed in. When I first moved to New York, I tried one of those serums that promised to grow my brows but instead of them growing to be thick, bushy ones like Cara Delevingne’s, mine were more Dr. Fu Manchu—only growing long and not thick. Thank goodness that was many years ago and since then eyebrow treatments have come a long way. We no longer have to look like crazy ladies with tattooed pencil brows of yore. These days I rely on Tom Ford’s brow sculptor. Of all the brow pencils I’ve tried (and I have tried them all), it stays on the longest and the brush never clogs up. It applies super smoothly because of the slant on the applicator. Lately though, I’ve been noticing friends with beautifully shaped brows, thick, tamed and arched to perfection—their brows were practically sculpted to their face! The answer to their designer brows I found out was microblading! For those of us unfamiliar with microblading— it’s a technique that uses tiny needles on a small blade to deposit pigment like a semi-permanent tattoo on your skin. It originated like so many beauty fads —in Asia—China to be exact. I sent word out to my favorite Tai Tais of beauty and this is what I learned...
Asian brows are uniquely different.
Kathleen Hou, Beauty Director of The Cut says: “Asian brows are unique in that the hair can often grow in multiple different directions. They also tend to lack a defined arch. I find that Asian brows respond best to tweezing—it’s a more precise method that is literally done hair by hair versus something like threading or waxing. I get my brows done by Kristie Streicher and Bob Scott, who tints them also to make them look fuller.”
What does a professional makeup artist have to say about it?
Samantha Lau, a makeup artist who has worked with everyone from Gigi Hadid to Karlie Kloss and backstage at countless fashion shows tells me:
“I probably won’t ever microblade. As a makeup artist, I find that especially for Asian brows, a lot of makeup artists/microblader are not well-versed in the shape and color of our brows. I noticed for the estheticians who do microblading, you rarely get a brow that actually matches your real eyebrow shade. I think it’s the dye that changes the color slightly once in contact with the skin. If anyone who is serious in getting their eyebrows done, do lots of research and really take a long hard look at the final result. Don’t rush into it. Remember, we don’t want a redo of those tattooed eyebrows of our mothers’ generation.”
It hurts, but it’s worth it.
“1. It hurts, even with the numbing cream. Later, when the numbing cream wears off, it feels like someone scraped your brow bone through a mandoline.
2. The first day, you look cray. If you are a haphazard eyebrow makeup applier— You will look crazy the first day with dark, defined brows that look painted on.
3. The 3rd, 4th and 5th day you will still look insane. The peeling and cracking and healing will drive you batty and look horrible.
4. You will want to talk about it all in horrifying detail, but no one will care except your friend who is also getting #microblading at the same time.
5. Eventually, you will be very happy and forget all the rest until you have to go back for a touch up and relive it all.”
I’ll never go back.
Diana Tsui, Senior Market Editor at The Cut is a convert and will never go back to pencil, she stands by her devotion to microblading.
“I was resistant to the idea of microblading until I discovered Evertrue Salon (locations in New York and Chicago). Run by Harvard Business School grad, Ramon Padilla, the team knows their way around Asian eyebrows. They'll sit you down for a consultation so you can approve the shape and color before you commit. With naturally dark hair, my biggest concern was having a natural but still full look. I didn't want to look artificial or Instagram brow-like and my technician knew exactly what I meant. She was able to sculpt a natural arch and fill in any sparse areas, framing my face and opening up my monolid eyes perfectly. And for anyone who's afraid of pain—they'll apply numbing cream and it'll barely hurt. As for recovery time, don't panic! The first two weeks are the hardest. It'll be darker and slowly scab off. Just apply the healing cream and you'll be good to go.”
Most microblading sessions run upwards of $800 so committing needs some serious consideration. According to our friends who have microbladed, the effect generally around 18 months before a touch up is needed, that will cost around $500. My Tom Ford Brow Sculptor comes in at $52 and will last around 8 weeks but the effect of a brow pencil means every day application, sometimes twice as it does get wiped off throughout the day. So if my math is correct, a Tom Ford pencil will cost approx $507 for 18 months ($52 every 8 weeks and multiply that by 18 months) but as I do sometimes have to apply twice, that brings the cost up to around $600, give or take. Then there is the convenience factor of not having to think about one’s brows every morning and also finally knowing how the likes of Kaia Gerber, Cara Delevingne and Liu Wen feel like with thick brows. Surely that is worth my money! Wish me luck and don’t laugh if you see me with freshly micro-bladed brows!!