The memory is clear as day. I'm 13 years old and suffering from a crush of the highest degree on a boy at my church. A group of us are sitting around a table when suddenly my biggest nightmare manifests in real life: Inexplicably, said crush looks across the table, makes eye contact, and points directly at me. "Whoa—you have no eyebrows!" he laughs.
Never mind the fact that I've known this kid for years, and he was uttering this like he'd never seen me before. Never mind the fact that even if he’d never seen me before, this is a wildly mortifying and potentially earth-shattering thing to say to an impressionable young girl. Sure, I eventually tucked this experience away into the folder of my brain marked "EMBARRASSING: DO NOT RUMINATE," but clearly the trauma remains—it was the first thing that sprung to mind as I sat down to write this post.
This is all just to say that I have very minimal eyebrows, and the lack of them is the bane of my existence.
Other than a short-lived period in college when I blithely left my brows bare (I had more important things to focus on, like which frat party to go to), I've regarded my brows—or lack thereof—with a potent mix of anxiety and care. Every morning for the past five years, I would painstakingly fill them in with my trusty The Brow Gal Skinny Eyebrow Pencil ($23) and cringe anytime anyone came near them, lest they smudge off and leave me looking like this.
When microblading first started getting buzz a year ago, I was intrigued. I immediately set up an appointment with a brow specialist in Los Angeles, but the appointment kept getting cancelled. Eventually, after the third reschedule, I gave up (out of exasperation, but also because I was too lazy to call again). It seemed like a sign from the universe: Microblading was not meant for me.
But a few weeks ago, the universe came back around. I got an offer to get my brows microbladed by Piret Aava, or @eyebrowdoctor, as she's known on Instagram. Part of the reason I gave up so easily with my first microblading attempt was because the brow expert didn’t have any photos of her work; I had the nagging fear I would leave her practice with thick, unnatural Sharpie brows. Piret's page, on the other hand, is a gold mine of mind-boggling brow before-afters; I scrolled for a full 10 minutes, marveling at the brow transformations and wondering if I, too, could be a part of bushy-brow crew.
So I did it. I booked the appointment, met with Piret, and got my brows microbladed. In just under an hour, I went from having zero brows to having soft, natural-looking arches. I felt reborn, like my brows had been baptized, and they would never again be the same (well, for the next year or two).
A few follow-up things I wanted to mention: Microblading is painful. Like, at times excruciatingly painful. Someone is using a tiny scalpel to carve into your skin and then fill it with ink, after all. Though the expert will (and should) use a numbing cream, I found that it didn't really help with the pain. I'm never doing this again was the thought that raced through my mind as the tiny blade ran across my forehead, trying to block out the pain and also the very disturbing scratching sound the blade made. But then I looked in the mirror and saw my brows. I had an internal "Who is that girl I see?" Mulan moment, and suddenly the pain I had felt just minutes earlier seemed like nothing. My brows looked so good. What's a few minutes of mind-numbing pain compared to a full year (or more) of good brows?
Secondly, I want to point out that my brows look much more reddish and stark at the end of the video than they do now. Piret explained that my brows would look much darker right after my appointment, and she was right; it's been a few weeks, and the brow hairs have faded to a much more natural-looking shade and shape, as you can see in the photo above.
I did my best to not get them wet for the recommended 10 days, and I did notice some mild scabbing for the first week. Now, however, I wash my face and shower like usual, knowing my beautiful new brows won't disappear. I'm going in for my touch-up next week, but honestly am still so ecstatic with the way they look. I use Benefit's Gimme Brow ($24) on some days to define them, marveling and relishing the fact that I'm now one of those girls who only has to use a tinted brow gel on her arches instead of a full-on brow regimen.
So was the pain worth it? Yes. Am I glad I finally jumped on the microblading train? A resounding yes. Do I wish I could give my 13-year-old self a hug and tell her it's all going to be okay; that boys would still like me (brows or no brows); that I would soon realize my crush was actually sort of lame and not worth a second of my time; and that my brow worries would be solved in the future by something wonderful called microblading? Yes. But hindsight is 20/20, as they say, so for now, I'm just relishing the fact that I finally, finally have a damn beautiful pair of brows.
Keep scrolling to see more of Piret's amazing eyebrow transformations!
Click here to find out more about microblading, from the price to the procedure.
This story was originally published on May 9, 2017.