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Brow lamination is the beauty treatment I never knew I needed, but wow, did I need it. For as long as I can remember, I've had to deal with brow hairs that have a mind of their own, sprouting out in different directions like siblings that drifted apart as they got older. No matter how much I brushed them or saturated them in brow gel, they didn't look like the perfectly-groomed brows I'd see on Instagram. You know the ones—they adorn the models made over by the very brilliant Nikki Wolff (otherwise known as @nikki_makeup on the 'gram). Despite having had microblading and bought a tin of Soap Brows, my brows still didn't have that certain je ne sais quoi.
In fact, last year, Wolff did my makeup and while it looked so good I was distraught to wash it off, my brows just didn't look like the models' brows she's famous for making over. What did they have that I didn't? On my quest for the truth, I discovered brow lamination and I'm here to tell you everything I found out about it.
A noninvasive procedure that involves straightening the brow hairs so they lie straight, full, and in the right direction.
It's like a perm, but without curling. Because the brow hairs are straightened and well-groomed, your brows look bigger, too.
Now that I'm based in Amsterdam, I went to the city's brow queen, Nina Nurian, founder of iBrowBar, a luxe salon in a very chic part of town. Nurian created the Brow Lift treatment, which involves threading, eyebrow lamination (using vegan lotions) and tinting, so you leave with brows that appear like you have a permanent brow gel on them or you got them microbladed but without the pain or downtime. Nurian told me that women in Iran and Russia have been straightening their brows for years "I thought, why not bring it to the Netherlands?" she pondered. And so she did.
Benefits of Brow Lamination
- Gives a natural look
- Makes brows fuller and more fluffy
- Is needle-free
- Lasts up to eight weeks
"This procedure is best for anyone who wants to make a thin brow appear full within 30 minutes as-well-as a more full brow to appear fuller and more fluffy," says Melanie Marris, eyebrow stylist and founder of Brow Code, a brand of brow products for professionals.
Before the actual process, it's safe just to have a patch test and check for allergies and sensitive skin. As both iBrowBar and Brow Code's formula are vegan friendly, the risks are low if you choose a good and cautious professional.
How to Prepare For Brow Lamination
Actually, there's no pre-preparation for getting a brow lamination (aside from avoiding retinoids for a couple of nights prior to prevent further irritation). However, if you're looking for fluffier results, Marris advises: "Grown brows that have not been trimmed can look the best in terms of how even the length will look when fluffed up."
One more thing to have in mind is that you can't get your brows wet for 24 hours, so be sure to schedule your brow lamination so you can avoid showering and exercising.
What To Expect During a Brow Lamination
After you've had a patch test and you've got the okay, the whole process only takes around 30 to 45 minutes. Nurian started by cleansing my brows and marking out the shape she wanted my brows to be. She then threaded any stray hairs to get a good initial shape.
She then fluffed up my brows using a tool and solution that coax the hairs into a straight, neat shape. A straightening lotion is applied to the hairs and they are flattened under clear wrap and left for 30 minutes. This lotion opens the hair follicles, straightening and shaping the brows. After the allotted time, the lotion is removed.
The next step is the setting lotion that's slicked on and left for eight minutes. As the first lotion is a little harsh, she then applied a hydrating oil serum to nourish the hairs. Finally, Nurian tinted my brows to help elevate the look of fullness.
Brow Lamination vs. Microblading
Marris says that many people are mistaking lamination for microblading because the effect is really impressive. According to her, "these are two completely different treatments and actually brow lamination looks amazing on a healed microbladed brow so you can have both."
Both microblading and microfeathering involve needles. "Microblading adds tattooed hair strokes to the eyebrow to give the effect of more hair strokes in the brow, whereas lamination is a straightening treatment, which can allow the hairs to relax and sit nearly in your desired style whether it be full and fluffy or sleek and defined," says Marris.
Eyebrow lamination is a more temporary and affordable way to get your desired brow style. Not to mention faster.
At Home vs. In Office
I'm a big fan of the laminated brow look, and as it was my first time, I definitely liked this more refined finish I got at iBrowBar.
At-home brow lamination involves using a kit with the same kits and bonders, and I can tell you it's pretty easy and quick. It's definitely a more affordable alternative, as well as a good option while we are facing some restrictions. "DIY brow lamination can be safe if the guidelines and correct protocols are followed and the at-home user performs an allergy patch test prior," Marris advises.
Potential Side Effects
While the vegan formula is gentle, it can still irritate your eye area. "Don't try it if you have had any kind of reaction to a perming solution or had sensitivity to any of the ingredients in brow lamination products," says Marris. It's also expected you may just get a little redness from the threading.
Other than that it is similar to the procedure of a lash lift or a hair perm used to curl lashes and hair which has been around for many years. "Like any product of this kind, you must avoid the eye area," she alerts.
Brow Lift at iBrowBar costs €55 (around $62). At KD Brows, in Los Angeles and Miami, Brow Lamination costs $90 and can also be combined with other services like shaping ($120) and stain ($125). You can find brow lamination in salons such as Brow Bar London in the UK and at Eye Design in New York.
How Long Does It Last?
Your brows will last like this for five to eight weeks, depending on your hair. If you have thick hairs, Nurian says you can get away with having the treatment every eight weeks, but if your hair is fine you should leave it 10 weeks. "We always check the brow hairs before giving a treatment to make sure they are strong enough," notes Nurian.
Nurian also told me that the treatment helps to coax your brow hairs, so they start to grow in the direction you want them to. The whole treatment also helps to boost hair growth, so eventually, you'll be able to extend the time between treatments.
Depending on your hair type, brow lamination can be slightly drying. That's why Marris alerts to the importance of the aftercare: "I recommend using our Brow Gold Growth Oil treatment each night to restore nutrients back into the hair. Our clients have never reported any dryness when following and using the correct aftercare," she says.
To get the look, all you have to do is give your brows a brush each day using a spoolie to ensure they look groomed. You shouldn't need to fill your brows, but you can use your brow soap or gel to add definition if you so choose.
The Final Takeaway
I'm still totally shocked that these are my brows. I usually wear glasses, but now I'm thinking about rimless alternatives because I can't bear to hide my brows behind frames. Let's put it this way: I've already scheduled my next brow lamination appointment.