When it comes to my beauty routine, I’m admittedly not super focused on my brows. I’m lucky that they have a naturally good shape and thickness (thanks, Mom, for not letting me tweeze/wax them off in my youth!) and with my monthly wax and tint, all I really need day to day is some eyebrow gel (Benefit Gimme Brow is hands-down my fave) and I’m good to go.
But if there is one thing I *would* change about my brows, it would be the direction my hair grows, which is pretty much straight down (hence the need for gel to set them once I’ve brushed them up and outward).
My eyebrow hairs can grow pretty long and without a trim during my monthly wax and tint, they can get unruly. Even with my trusty Gimme Brow, they tend to fall back down by the end of the day, with those long hairs hovering below my brow line and thwarting that coveted feathered look.
So, when I heard about eyebrow lamination, and how it is essentially like semi-permanent soap brows, I was intrigued. Could this service be the secret to achieving my perfect no-maintenance brows?
Below, my no-holds-barred, no-BS review of my eyebrow lamination experience.
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First of all, what is eyebrow lamination?
While some people describe this treatment as a perm for your brows (similar to a lash lift), I found this description made it seem like my brows would either be made curly (umm…no thanks) or would stay straight up and “lifted” over the span of several weeks when, in fact, that’s not the case at all.
Instead, I prefer Toronto makeup and brow artist Jordi Houad’s definition: a semi-permanent, non-invasive service that relaxes your brow hairs so they can stand in the direction you desire. Essentially, the service (which originated in Russia but has recently made its way to North America) temporarily straightens your brow hairs and makes them more pliable so they can be easily manipulated and shaped in virtually any direction, with the results including fuller-looking, fluffier brows.
As for the origin of the name? That’s unknown, though some believe the (temporary) look of shiny, slicked-up brows post-procedure is the inspo behind “lamination.”
Can anyone get eyebrow lamination?
According to Kira Thompson, owner of The Brow House in Toronto, brow lamination works on virtually all types of hair for both women and men.
“This is honestly an amazing breakthrough for brows, because a lot of people have brows that are sparse, that grow in all different directions, brows that are not flat to the face, short hairs, or unruly, coarse brows. It really [solves for] all these types of brow [issues],” says Thompson, who adds those who are trying to grow back over-tweezed brows could particularly benefit from the service as it can act as a “comb over” for their arches.
“If you have a couple of gaps that are not growing as fast, [a brow lamination] lets you comb through your brows and lay hairs over areas that are more sparse than others,” she explains.
Houad, who performed my brow treatment, suggests avoiding brown lamination if you’ve had microdermabrasion or have used retinol, benzoyl, AHAs or BHAs within the past month.
“Certain medications, like acne medications, can affect the brows and skin. Sometimes, they can travel through the skin and sometimes they can thin out the skin,” she explains, adding that using these types of products may increase the risk of a reaction during the treatment.
She also tends to avoid doing brow laminations on pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding.
“A lot of pregnant women are either losing hair or getting weird hormonal hair growth, and because of that, the [brow lamination] may not work,” she says. “Also, there is the risk of the [brow lamination] products being absorbed into the bloodstream.”
JJ Cowan, owner of Wax and Lash JJ Cowan in Toronto, says individuals with skin allergies or a history of reactions to skin products should also be cautious when it comes to getting a brow lamination. She suggests informing the brow artist beforehand to determine if the service is a good fit.
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How long does it last?
A brow lamination can last anywhere from three to eight weeks, depending on your brow hair’s natural growth cycle and your hair type. (Thompson says people with thinner hair will notice longer lasting results.) Both Thompson and Houad say the fade out is gradual, so you won’t be left with rogue wonky-looking brow hairs in between appointments.
“It’s a very gradual fade. You’ll see that they will go back to ‘normal,’ but it’s a slow process,” says Houad, adding that the longevity of the brow lamination also depends on adherence to aftercare recommendations (outlined below).
Though the time varies on how long a brow lamination will last, Cowan suggests waiting six weeks before having a touch-up so as to not over-process and damage the brow hair. If things are looking a little funky, try getting a shaping touch-up or a trim to keep things manageable for a bit longer.
Can you get other brow treatments with a lamination?
Brow lamination can be done in conjunction with a brow wax and tint, however, the order of each service differs depending on the brow artist.
Houad prefers doing the wax and tint following the brow lamination service as the brows will already look fuller and thicker after lamination, so it gives her more control over the final look.
“It’s also safer for the skin that way, and you have more hair to work with, so you’re taking out less at the end and you don’t need to clean them up as much,” she explains. “I always tell clients to have their brows grown out as much as possible when they come in so it gives me more to work with.”
Brow lamination can also be done if you’ve had microblading, though Cowan suggests waiting 12 weeks following the final microblading touch-up before getting laminated.
“Also, the client must have pre-existing brow hair in order to get brow lamination… often people with limited brow hair have microblading treatments, so this must be kept in mind when considering the service,” Cowan adds.
So what’s the process actually like?
The brow lamination process is very similar to that of a lash lift. Depending on the kit the brow artist uses, steps can vary, but here’s what went down when Houad did my brows:
After a quick consultation, she applied a hair softener to my brows to prep. A couple minutes later, she applied the perming solution, which adjusts the pH of the brow hairs and opens up the bonds, allowing them to “lift” (straighten) and become more pliable. After combing my brows upward, she put saran wrap across my brows to hold them in place and help the product stay more concentrated in the desired area. (It also helped to keep the fumes out of my eyes).
Houad says the first solution can be kept on for 10–15 minutes, depending on the client’s brows shape and quality. It stayed on my brows for 14 minutes before Houad wiped it off and applied the setting lotion, which neutralizes the pH and restores the hair to keep it healthy.
“It’s like a keratin treatment for your brows,” says Houad.
Again, saran wrap was put back on, and the solution was left on for another 14 minutes. Again, timing can range from 10-15 minutes, depending on the brows.
Following the lamination process, Houad gave me a quick wax and tint before applying a nourishing gel, which has the same consistency as Vaseline and gives the brows a glossy effect. Its purpose? To nourish and lock in moisture.
As for the result? See below for my before and after:
How do you maintain your brows post-lamination?
As with any perm, the most important thing to do post-lamination is to keep your brows away from water, steam and makeup for at least 24 hours.
“The simple reason is you want to make sure you set your brows for at least 24 hours,” says Thompson. “If you do hot yoga or [expose yourself to] any kind of steam, most likely [your brow hairs are] going to fall.”
After the 24-hour period, Houad suggests setting your brows again with a clean spoolie while they’re wet, and swears by using castor oil daily to help nourish and hydrate between treatments.
So, what did I think of my brow lamination?
I wanted to love this service. After seeing photos online, and hearing rave reviews about brow lamination, I was convinced this would be life-changing and that it would give me the brows of my dreams. And honestly, after Houad did my brows, they looked amazing. Perfectly full and brushed up and outwards for a clean, yet still undone look. Admittedly, there were some times I looked in the mirror and found them a little bit extreme, but after I inspected more closely, I really did love them.
But for me, the daily styling of my brows was the hardest part. I couldn’t seem to figure out how to get them to look how Houad did—when I brushed them up, they looked a little too extreme, but when I tried to brush them over, it just didn’t work. Over the past few weeks, I’ve experimented with Gimme Brow, brow pencil and clear brow gel, and still can’t seem to figure out which one works best with my new brow texture. Some days I manage to make my brows look amazing, but it’s never consistent.
I’m not giving up entirely, though. Houad has since given me some tips (brush up, then just along the tips of the brow hairs to avoid a full comb over) and suggested that I get a grooming touch up since my hairs have already grown kind of long. If I manage to figure out a foolproof technique to styling them, I’ll consider myself a brow lamination convert but, for now, I’ll still on the fence.