If eyes are the windows to the soul, eyebrows are like the shutters. Or the blinds. Or the decorative bird feeder. Or something. That’s Shakespeare.
From the thick brow pomade of middle school to the Pears Soap of last year, I’ve tried just about everything to get mine in check. Here’s the situation: my eyebrows are around as blonde as my hair — not super but enough. But, because they’re relatively sparse, without product, they look about three shades lighter — Tilda Swinton chic.
My typical routine nowadays is a simple brow pencil and gel. Every month or two, I’ll take some Just For Men to them. Or, as a real treat, I’ll go to the salon to get them tinted and waxed.
About three weeks ago, I found myself sitting in a Benefit Brow Bar for my semi-regular tint and wax, and my aesthetician said this to me:
“You have the perfect brows for lamination.”
This wasn’t exactly a compliment, likely more of a recommendation, but regardless, I trusted her implicitly. My brows have these funky lil splits in them that only soap and wax have been able to hold down to date, but lamination would, miraculously, get rid of them.
And so, three weeks later, I found myself in a different chair at a different Benefit Brow Bar for a brow lamination appointment.
What is brow lamination?
Brow lamination is a chemical treatment that relaxes and reshapes the hairs of your brow to achieve a full, lifted, and fluffy shape. According to Benefit Global Brow Expert Jared Bailey, “lamination removes the natural bend or curve of the hair, which helps to fan out the brows and give the illusion of fullness.” Think soap brows but semi-permanent.
But it's also so much more than that. “Brow lamination doesn’t mean you have to style them upward or in a feathery fashion,” Jared says. It’s perfect for anyone, he adds, whether you have sparse brows, coarse, curly, or unruly hair, or even a cowlick. (Or funky lil splits.) It simply helps straighten the hairs to give you the ability to brush them wherever you want them. And they’ll actually stay put.
What happens, exactly?
The actual service works in three main steps: relax, reposition, and condition. In total, it’ll take around 30 to 40 minutes, depending on your brows, and a bit longer if you go for a tint as well.
The first solution that’s applied to your brows opens up the cuticle. While you wait — about six minutes — your brows will get cling-wrapped up. Once that’s all done, your aesthetician brushes the hairs up and out, and then the gel that seals the cuticle back up will get brushed in and on as well. Another strip of Saran wrap, and another six minutes, and then you’re set.
If you opt for a tint — which Benefit recommends you do — that’ll be the next step after the lamination. “Brow tinting adds depth and richness to the brow shape,” says Jared Bailey. “It also helps even the finest brow hairs look thicker and the overall brow shape look fuller.”
Before we started the whole process, my aesthetician made sure to warn me that since the cuticle will be open, the tint sets faster and will typically end up deeper than you might be used to with your typical tints. She also told me that if you have an existing tint in your brows, it might lift during the lamination process. Because I’d just gotten a tint a few weeks back, and my brows were already darker than their natural tone, I opted out of a tint for the time being.
How much upkeep do laminated brows need?
As anyone who’s seen Legally Blonde knows, the first cardinal rule of perm maintenance is that you cannot get your hair wet for at least 24 hours afterward. Lamination works the same. Once you leave the appointment, you’ve got to keep your brows dry and in place for 24 hours. This means no messing with them until the Earth has done one full gyration. Don’t rub them. Don’t go swimming. You get the gist.
Also, try your best not to sleep on your face or side — I know this is basically physically impossible, but I’m telling you anyway — lest you move the hairs and send them in the wrong direction. If you do wake up with them all over the place — I did — just brush them back into place and pretend nothing happened. This worked for me, but still, it’s probably better if they don’t move at all.
Then, because it is a chemical treatment before you go to bed every night, you should brush them with a nourishing oil to keep them conditioned. My aesthetician specifically recommended castor oil, but practically any oil will do. “Even a hair conditioner is better than nothing,” she told me. She was a realist, and I appreciate that about her. I’ve been using a drop of this hair oil I already own from Gisou every night and brushing through with the spoolie end of my eyebrow brush. In the mornings, I’m also using Benefit’s Browvo! Eyebrow Primer to keep them extra hydrated and happy.
How do I style them?
On the daily, you’ll want to use a waterproof gel to style them into place, as well as whatever brow pencil you typically use to fill in as needed. Again, you can brush them wherever you want them. The sky’s the limit.
That’s all it takes, and for 6–8 weeks, you’ve got these wonderful, full, not split in five ways, brows.
How long does it last?
Where is it available?
All Benefit boutiques, Macy’s Brow Bars, and select Ulta locations.
(Find your best location here.)
How much does it cost?
Brow lamination (includes shaping + waxing), $80
Brow lamination + tinting (includes shaping + waxing), $98
What else do you need?
Castor Oil, $10
Browvo! Conditioning Brow Primer, $18
24-HR Brow Setter Clear Brow Gel, $24
Gimme Brow+ Volumizing Pencil, $25