Growing up with five sisters, primping was something we did as naturally as breathing. My mother was full of beauty advice that had roots in our culture (we’re Lebanese-Australian), and for the most part, we dutifully followed her guidance.
But while we refrained from dying our hair; and waxed (rather than shaved) our armpits and legs one Saturday every month (the Lebanese version of the Italian ‘tomato day’, only way less fun); we drew the line at letting our eyebrows grow ‘naturally’.
One by one, the Youssef girls plucked and pruned our big, bushy brows until they resembled Kate Moss’ emaciated arches. And then, one by one, we cursed and cried, and began growing them out once Cara Delevingne’s power brows came into fashion in 2013.
One by one, we plucked and pruned our big, bushy brows until they resembled Kate Moss’ emaciated arches
Over a two-year period, my brows grew in quite a bit, thank goddess, but there were two patches at the inner corners that remained bald. For years, I meticulously filled them in every morning, and then, in 2016, an email landed in my inbox, asking if I’d like to trial microblading with Amy Jean Linehaan.
My finger hovered over the delete button. The thought of a needle going anywhere near my face – not to mention the permanency of tattoos – terrified me. No, I decided, tattooing wasn’t for me. I deleted the email and rebuffed the lovely PR’s subsequent offers.
But in 2017, two things happened: I spent that summer with brows that disappeared as the day wore on (alas, no eyebrow product is truly waterproof in the face of Sydney’s humidity); and I dispatched one sister and my mum to Amy Jean for microblading (they were willing guinea pigs, I swear). And they loved it. Loved it. Wouldn’t stop raving about it. So I booked my appointment.
Amy Jean pioneered microblading in Australia, and she counts Delta Goodrem and Dannii Minogue as clients – so her expertise is assured. But even still, when I turned up that first time, I was deeply anxious.
Amy-Jean, who is exceedingly nice, patiently talked me through the process: first, she would shape and tweeze my brows, then she would plug any gaps before finally perfecting the shape with a tattoo pigment.
We settled on a technique called misting, where dots of pigment are airbrushed into skin, and the whole thing took about two hours, including time for the anaesthetic to take effect (yes, yes, there is numbing cream involved).
The post-care routine was slightly tricky, as your eyebrow area – from your hairline to your eyeballs – must stay completely dry (no water, oil, moisturiser or makeup) for seven days, making showering and cleansing difficult.
But I would do it all over again.
It wasn’t that my pre-tattooed eyebrows were laborious (it took five minutes to fill them in every morning) but more that tattooing eliminates any fears that I might accidentally wipe them off – and that peace of mind? Priceless.
Linehaan says eyebrows can change the appearance of your face. “Your brow shape, colour and general appearance frames the face, and poorly shaped brows can be prematurely ageing.”
Her brow artists offer a bespoke service, which takes into consideration each individual’s facial features, skin tone, hair colour and capacity to grow the brows. And, no, Cara’s plush peaks won’t work on everyone, says Linehaan.
My advice: find someone reputable. Do the research. Scroll through Instagram, ask your friends or that lady on the train with the amazing arches. And be vocal about exactly what you want. I discussed my preferences with Amy Jean and she delivered precisely what I was after: natural-looking brows that did not look perfectly sculpted or drawn in.
I also feel a duty to warn you: your newly-tattooed brows will scare you at first. And possibly your partner and any small children. Straight after your first session, your brows will look comically dark, but the colour does fade dramatically after about one week. I promise.
Here’s what else you need to know:
Method: Pigment is finely etched into the outer layer of skin to resemble natural hairs. You’ll be left with brows that look like yours, only better.
Best for: Scant or over-plucked brows that won’t grow back, as the technique is performed over the entire length of the brow.
Method: A stronger, longer-lasting version of microblading, where richly defined strokes are carved into skin. If you like statement-making Instagram brows, this might be for you.
Best for: Severely over-plucked, inconsistent or extremely dark brows, as pigment is only deposited in sparse patches.
Microshading/misting (my service of choice)
Method: Pixelated dots of pigment are airbrushed into skin to deliver a soft wash of colour that appears subtle and shadowy, as opposed to the precise hair strokes achieved with micro-blading or feathering. It looks like you’ve filled your brows in with powder, as opposed to brow pencil.
Best for: Most brow types, with the exception of very dense or coarse brows