Trigger warning: this article contains themes of mental health and suicide.
Way back when, I used to have thick, fluffy eyebrows that would make even my mother jealous. Every few weeks, we’d walk up to our favourite beauty parlour and get our eyebrows threaded together. It was a bonding session I looked forward to because we’d always head to our local Thai restaurant afterwards for lunch and gossip. But then lockdown hit which meant our regular visits to the salon came to a sudden halt. My eyebrows were left to grow out, which I didn’t mind since thick, bushy eyebrows were suddenly back in style, according to Gen Z TikTok and celebrities like Zendaya, Cara Delevingne, and Zoe Kravitz.
But later that year, in November 2020, I witnessed a suicide on the London Underground. It took months to recover from it. I was signed off work and sought out trauma therapy which took a long time. Around six months into 2021, my mother, who was on her way to the eyebrow salon, noticed that my eyebrows had disappeared. “Jess, what’s happened to your eyebrows? They’re gone.” Panic stricken, I made a beeline for the mirror. There they were: thin, hairless, gone. My eyebrows had disappeared. For months I tried to understand why my eyebrows had suddenly fallen off my face since I hadn’t plucked or had them threaded throughout lockdown.
I rang my GP and low and behold, they told me that I had developed eyebrow alopecia – hair loss of the eyebrow – and that it can be triggered by infection, skin conditions, hormonal changes, an overactive immune system, or in my case, trauma and stress. Once it had sunk in that I had developed eyebrow alopecia, and there was no guarantee that my eyebrows would grow back, my confidence slowly chipped away. I’ve never been a big makeup wearer and often apply minimal makeup which consists of brow gel and mascara, and maybe a bit of red lipstick. My eyes have always been one of my favourite features, but without my eyebrows, I looked like a different person.
Google then became my best friend. I spent hours searching for remedies: eyebrow growth serums, black castor oil for hair growth, supplements – you name it. But none of the remedies would guarantee that my brows would grow back.
What Is Microblading?
A friend recommended I tried microblading, which is a tattoo technique that adds semi-permanent ink pigment to the skin, creating the illusion of natural brow hairs. I have two tattoos already, so I know what having a one feels like. But on my face? Terrifying.
So I made a visit to Liarna Jessica London, a microblading expert with eight years experience. She put my mind at ease and told me that some of her clients include cancer patients who come to her for microblading treatment before they undergo chemotherapy. After I shared my story with her, she assured me I was in good hands. She took a look at my brows and understood why I had been so upset for so long.
First, Liarna measured my eyebrows using a ruler, and drew a rough template of my desired brow shape using a brown pencil. Once we were happy with the shape, she applied the numbing cream and talked me through the process.
What Is The Microblading Treatment Like?
Microblading is a semi-permanent treatment that deposits high grade pigment into the upper dermis of the skin to create natural looking eyebrows. It can last up to 18 months, and after the first treatment, it is advised that you return after eight weeks for a top-up. Liarna began the treatment which lasted for around an hour and a half, showing me my brow shape half way through. She used upward strokes using the tattoo gun to apply the pigment into my skin to blend into what was left of my natural hairs.
We opted for a dark brown pigment since it lasts longer and matched my natural hair colour. While it looked intense and cartoon-like at first, Liarna assured me that the colour would fade during the healing process. When she completed the treatment, my only reaction was to cry because it had been that long since I had seen myself with eyebrows. I instantly felt like myself again.
The treatment was virtually pain-free because numbing cream is used, and there was minimal bleeding compared to what you would expected when you have a tattoo. A few hours after my treatment, the numbing cream wore off and the area around my brows were a little bit sore, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
It is recommended that you should avoid getting your brows wet for up to 48 hours, and avoid all skincare around the area to allow the brows need to heal properly. Liarna equipped me with an eyebrow brush, and a healing balm, to speed up the process. This ointment is meant to keep the area moisturised and should only be used after the first 48 hours.
After about a week, the scabbing phase had begun and slowly the cartoon-like shape of my eyebrows faded, and I was left with natural looking brows.
Months later, I can say that I am still very happy with my brows. While the pigment has faded, my eyebrows have still kept their shape and they don’t look as thin and patchy as they once did. I would definitely recommend this treatment for anyone suffering from eyebrow alopecia, or those who want to improve the shape of their brows. The price of microblading ranges between £300 and £600. Considering that the treatment lasts for up to 18 months, you get a lot of bang for your buck – as well as your confidence back.
I can now wake up in the morning without feeling ashamed or embarrassed to leave the house. While drawing on my eyebrows with a pencil had become second nature for me, I now no longer feel pressured to do so. The microblading treatment has been one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made, and I’ll definitely do it again.