2017 was undoubtedly a big year for brows and whilst many of the trends surfacing left us with one brow firmly raised, there was one trend that caught my eye… and my brow!
Today is National Brow Day and to celebrate I’m talking about Microblading!
Last year, brows got a lot of press. If I didn’t feel bombarded with the ‘no-brow’ or the ‘negative space brow’ on my Instagram, then the girl in my local urban outfitters had me covered by trying to make the unibrow happen. Let’s face it. That was not going to happen. Not for me anyway.
Following on from a particularly stressful year, I started to notice my eyebrows were thinning a considerable amount.
As my brow hairs started to fall, thinning at my arch and completely disappearing at the ends, my search for a solution became a daily pursuit.
I’d invested a decent amount of time and money trying to work the perfect brow with products from Anastasia Beverley Hills, NARS angle brushes, brow-definers, dip brow pomade and WunderBrow sticks and was spending at least 25 minutes a day trying to perfectly draw in the brows that had suddenly gone MIA on me.
My biggest problem? None of them were permanent.
A sweat induced work-out, sauna or swim and I’d find my brows creeping down my face. No amount of fixing spray or waterproof product could keep my brows firmly on my face, and the struggle was real.
Despite my crippling anxiety and reluctance to trying new things (especially where needles or numbing creams were concerned), I decided Microblading was the way to go.
Not wanting to have my brows done by just anyone, I decided to go with Karen Betts.
Karen Betts is leading the way in the world of Microblading. Not only is she a multi-award winning business woman, she pioneered permanent cosmetics in the UK over 20 years ago and has since treated thousands of people and numerous celebrities across the world. She continues to advance her standards of beauty excellence by developing incredible new treatments and products and she’s one of a very few elite artists in the UK recognised by the Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals in the USA.
She also happens to be an amazing woman with a huge heart. Spending as much of her spare time as she can working alongside incredible charities like the Katie Piper Foundation, Breast Friends and Caroline’s Campaign, Karen gives away her incredible skill to help people feel more confident about themselves. Using medical tattooing, Karen gives back by providing her services to people living with burns and scars, coping with the side effects of chemotherapy or suffering the effects of stress/trauma-induced hair loss like alopecia or trichotillomania. She says, “I do what I do because I like to change people’s lives for the better. I believe everyone, young or old, fighting fit or seriously ill, deserves to look their best”.
I truly admire Karen for the work she does and couldn’t have chosen a better person to bring my brows back to life.
Let’s get down to the not so gritty details!
What is Microblading?
Microblading is a form of tattooing. It’s a “permanent cosmetics treatment, performed using either a tattooing machine or a manual hand tool. A three-part process usually completed within two appointments”, Karen explains.
How does it work?
Karen uses a state of the art microblading tool. By hand, she creates tiny precision hair strokes that mimic the natural direction and lengths of your brow hair. This is needlework at its finest. Pigments are then implanted into the channels created by the microblades in the dermal layer of the skin.
Does it hurt?
Absolutely not. I was more than worried about this as I have a really low pain threshold. I have no tattoos and it took me until the age of 21 to get my ears pierced. Yes. I’m that girl. So as you can imagine, this was a terrifying experience for me in the lead-up but it was actually, for the most part, quite therapeutic.
I had been pre-warned by our marketing assistant Elle that it feels a little bit like velcro. I couldn’t quite get my head around that but as soon as the microblading began – I totally got it! Karen explains this as a sensation “similar to a little scratch and you should not feel any discomfort”. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most painful thing in life – I’d say this was a 1!
What to expect
A few weeks prior to my first appointment I received a welcome pack with all the necessary information to follow closely before I went for my treatment. Included, were two tiny pots of sample pigment for me to test on my skin to ensure I didn’t have any adverse allergic reactions. I was told to arrive with my eyebrows already made up so that Karen could get an idea of how I like my brows to be.
I arrived at Karen’s London clinic in Harley Street where I was greeted by one of her lovely assistants who sat me down in the waiting room and gave me a few additional forms to fill out.
I had a good old chat with another client sat opposite me who reassured me that Karen was the best in the business. She managed to alleviate a lot of my anxieties about ending up with a unibrow or bleeding to death on the table etc. You know, the regular concerns one might have.
Shortly after she was ushered in for her treatment, another assistant came out to ensure I felt OK about everything. I can’t tell you how helpful this was. After a good chinwag, my numbing cream started to take full effect and I was ready to be seen.
I was thrilled to meet Karen and after a short talk about how I liked my brows and what I wanted from the treatment, she got straight to work. Her passion and excitement for her work blew my mind. It was so refreshing to be around such a positive, vibrant and uplifting force – it was clear how her determination and drive coupled with her passion and zest for life had led her to be so successful.
Like a true artist, she took her time measuring my brows, lining things up and drawing in a ‘rough copy’ of the final piece.
Once she has done this, by eye, she’d already decided on the perfect mix of pigment to create the natural brow I’d always wanted.
The treatment then lasted about an hour and was completely painless (minus the weird velcro sensation). I managed to take a slight selfie whilst Karen’s assistant showed her the social updates – and despite this photo looking like a scene from Snapped Women Who Killed, it’s not the full-on surgery I’ve managed to make it look like in this pic, so don’t panic!
When the treatment was complete, I sat up and Karen proceeded to add some final strokes before showing me the result in the mirror.
When I saw myself for the first time, I actually wanted to cry. I literally could not believe what I was seeing. She had gone above and beyond my expectations, as I’d only ever seen artists creating line upon line, paying no real attention to the detail of how a brow is actually formed. I was blown away by Karen’s technique. She had managed to make them look multi-dimensional and natural AF!!!
What’s the aftercare like?
Much like a regular tattoo, you have to be considerate of your newly inked skin. For two weeks you can’t get your brows wet and have to be extremely careful when cleansing or exfoliating your skin. I kept this to an absolute minimum and was super careful about getting anything near my new brows. My first experience with washing my hair was fun. I masking taped an entire length of cling film around my eyes and eyebrows and almost broke my neck leaning my head back to wash my hair. It needn’t be this extra – with time you find ways that work for you. Luckily I don’t have to wash my hair every single day, but if you do, just be extra careful. After your treatment, you are given an information sheet on how to look after your brows for the following two weeks and an amazing gel that has to be applied a minimum of 4 times a day.
You are advised not to wear make-up until 72 hours after your treatment so don’t book an appointment the day before a wedding or event! Sunbeds, jacuzzis, saunas, salt waters, swimming pools etc are all to be avoided during this two week period so don’t book any spa days or facials either.
Is there any pain during the healing process?
The following few days after your treatment might give you a little bit of discomfort. I had the odd sharp brow itch here and there but that was about it. The 2-5 days after may leave you with a bit of tenderness, flaking, dryness and itching and some experience a little bit of swelling or redness. I have extremely sensitive skin and the after effects were at the absolute minimum so I was pleasantly surprised.
4-12 weeks after your first appointment you will need to go back for a re-touch. This is usually a 30-60 minute appointment to add more pigment to your brow. The reason for this being that during the healing process, some parts may not ‘hold’ as well as others and you may have a few patches that need more colour. This is completely normal and everyone heals differently – Karen and her team are amazing and always advise you go back for your re-touch to make the final touches.
If you are anything like me, you’ll probably want to do extensive research before going ahead with a procedure like this. I very nearly didn’t make my appointment because my unruly anxiety loves to kick in and make me fear the absolute worst. If you have the same worries, please be reassured that the anticipation is always a lot worse than the treatment and Karen and her team will go out of their way to make sure you have the best experience, they really are a lovely bunch! If you love looking at before and after photos, Karen has a page on her website that you can view here.
It’s worth mentioning that Microblading is an investment. It’s a permanent cosmetic procedure – on your face, so, not the easiest thing to cover up if anyone was to make a mistake.
There are a lot of people out there doing a really bad job at microblading so make sure you do your research before committing yourself, and your brows. I couldn’t recommend Karen and her team enough and will continue to sing their praises. Not only have they given me back my brows, they’ve managed to install the confidence to help me feel good about myself again – and that alone is absolutely priceless.
To find out more about Karen and the treatments she has on offer, you can visit her website here. Alternatively, you can access special offers via her Facebook page and keep posted on her work via Instagram.