chosen not to say who I consulted with or where, because if I ever do go
through with micropigmentation, the artist I consulted with is the one I’ll
choose, largely because there aren't many options. She was lovely and very professional, and
I don’t want to damage her reputation. My issues weren’t with her per se, but
with SOME aspects of the whole industry, at least in my area.
I’m not including
photos of my brows (for anonymity), but I’ve drawn some pictures based on
photos I took just to give you an idea. I hope that omission of details isn’t
frustrating for anyone reading, but I thought others like me might benefit from
knowing what the consulting process is like and why I made the decision not to
I’m in my early
30’s and have a long-term neurological condition. I’m housebound and mostly
bedbound, only making rare trips out to see doctors. When I first got sick I
lost a lot of hair and my eyebrows thinned out. I fill them in meticulously
every day, and I prefer a full, soft, natural look. I’ve mastered the art of
making them look extremely natural, but it is an effort for me, and if I ultimately
end up in hospital I won’t be able to wear makeup.
Like a lot of
you, I love makeup, wear it every day, collect it (MAC, Nars, Bobbi Brown etc.
when I can afford it, plus plenty of budget stuff), play with it, follow blogs
and watch tutorials online (love Lisa Eldridge) and read up on beauty trends.
I’m not obsessed by any means, but I am fussy. I have a really strong sense of
what works on my face, and how to minimise the effects of illness and look as
pretty as possible under the worst of circumstances. I'm usually aiming for a really natural, healthy look.
When I went in
for a permanent makeup consultation, it was a big deal for me. I can’t stand up
for long, sit up for long, or even talk for long. The consultation went for two
hours. Two. HOURS. I had no idea it would be that long. I hoped I would be able
to explain from the outset that I was very ill, but the tattooist took control
of the consult and did a sort of presentation of the kind you would deliver to
a crowd of novices. I had done my research and knew a lot about permanent
makeup, so I didn’t really need the whole A to Z introduction. I also had a very clear idea of what I
wanted, and had brought pictures, which she declined to look at. I had heard that some artists want to know what brow products you use and ask you to show them how you usually do your makeup, and knowing that that would be too difficult for me under the circumstances, I did it at home and took detailed photos.She also told me to hold my questions
until the end.
She took me
through some pictures of her work, but much of it was stuff like lipstick and
medical tattooing that I wasn’t interested in. I only saw a couple of pictures
of brows, and I actually didn’t like the ones she showed me, but I didn’t have
an opportunity to explain to her that that wasn’t what I was interested in. I
would rather she had asked me up front what I was hoping for and then showed me
some pictures along those lines.
After about an
hour she said she would sketch my brows on with brow pencil that day just to
show me what they would look like. I started to panic at this point because I
was so sick and really needed to get home, but I couldn’t get a word in
edgeways, and I was really interested in the procedure, so I thought it would
be easier just to be quiet and let her do her thing. She had me lie in a
dentist’s chair while she drew my brows on, and asked me to jump up every
couple of minutes to look in a mirror. This was almost physically impossible
for me, but when I tried to explain my difficulty she just talked over me. I
have to say at this point that she was lovely, super-extroverted and really
positive and friendly, but I just would have appreciated it if she’d listened
to me a little.
When I looked
in the mirror, she had sketched actual hairlines on with a brow pencil, and
while the brow looked okay, it wasn’t at all what I wanted. I have very large,
round eyes with pronounced dark circles and bags. Everything I do with makeup
is aimed at balancing these flaws. I love a bold, natural brow, a slick of
jet-black liquid liner that gently swooshes out a few millimeters either side
of the outer corner of my eyes, lashings of black mascara, sometimes a strip of
natural-looking false lashes (Ardell 110), and some soft contouring in a
greyish-taupe to make my eyes look clear and bold and pretty. I NEVER wear liner
on the lower lashes. It drags my eyes down. I just apply a subtle smudge of
taupe shadow in the outer corner under the lower lid to draw attention away
from the bags and make my eyes look wider, brighter and more almond-shaped. I
extend my brows outwards too, and make them look a lot wider and fuller than
artist sketched my brows quite short with a really pointy arch, so instead of a
wide brow with a natural arch (think Miranda Kerr) it was kind of a small triangle
shape. I was determined to make myself heard at this point, so I said “I
usually prefer them a lot longer” and pointed out towards the temples to
demonstrate how I elongate them. She shook her head very firmly and insisted it
wouldn’t look right. She added a few millimeters to the tails just to show me,
and of course it did look weird because they looked like pointy triangles with
long tails. Totally out of proportion.
she went ahead and drew liner on the upper AND lower lashes, right up to the
inner corner. It wasn’t jet black, more of a dark grey/soft black, but she said
it wasn’t possible to achieve jet black with tattoo. She’s probably right, so I'm not blaming her for that. She smudged the liner liberally with a Q-tip.
The whole look aged me a decade in 10 minutes. It was harsh, dated, and dragged
my eyes down, making my face look even more tired than it was.
I told her I
didn’t want lower liner, but she insisted that she had to do both upper and
lower eyeliner so she would “know where my eyes sat in my face,” and had a
theory about how putting liner only on the upper lashline is bad idea because it makes the eyes go “up
and back.” I actually want my eyes to go "up," that's kinda the point. The plain fact is that the way she did the liner and narrow, triangular
brows emphasized the roundness of my eyes, aged me, and looked really dated.
Like a Revlon ad from 1980.
frequently that her approach is “medical” which is why she doesn’t consult
patients about their wishes. She showed me various measurement devices and
insisted that because she’s a professional, she understands symmetry and
aesthetics and science, and I should defer to her expertise. I certainly see
her point, but what she fails to take into account is that beauty isn’t just
“medical.” It’s highly personal, very diverse, and entails a lot of artistic
freedom. Some girls look amazing with thick black kohl under their eyes – I
look awful. Some girls look great with red lipstick – I don’t. And while
scientific measurements and bone structure are important considerations, there
are other less rigid things to factor in too, like age, the makeup styles an
individual prefers, hair colour and length, and in my case, illness. Skipping
lower liner makes me look healthier. I also have really large eyes, so I think
I look better with a bolder brow to balance them out. Full, soft, wide brows
open up my face and give me a lift. Thin, hard, dark brows in a sharp triangle
contribute to all the flaws I want to minimize. Again, if she had asked me a
little bit about my background, I could have explained all this pretty
Looking at the
few pictures of other brows she’d done that she allowed me to see, they were
mostly on older women, and they looked quite old-fashioned to me. This is the
way my mum or my grandma would like their makeup: thin, highly-tweezed brows
with a dramatic arch, and a thin, sharp line of eyeliner on the top and bottom
lashes. And I have to say, the way she did my makeup didn’t appeal to me at
all. I went home and looked in the mirror and thought “EWW!” and wiped it all
off. Even my mom thought it looked hard and un-pretty. It wasn’t modern, fresh, youthful and natural. It was contrived, dated,
old-fashioned and unflattering. It was also not very stylish. I felt like
I asked her if
it was cheaper to get just the upper lashes done and she said no. She seemed to
have a clear idea of where she thought my eyes belonged in relation to my other
features, and she was pretty determined to persuade me that upper AND lower liner was the only option. She wouldn't even do a flick at the outside corner, because she said it would look better if the upper and lower liner "joined up," which to me just made it look like she'd drawn a dark grey circle all around my eye. Like a panda.
two hours, she wrote down the prices. She charges almost as much as Tracy
Giles in London, who is probably the best brow tattooist in the UK, and probably one of the best in the world. I had brought in some
pictures of brows by Tracy Giles, but what this artist did was really not
similar at all, so I would be paying first-rate prices for second-rate brows. She
led me to expect that there would be “hundreds” of tiny hair strokes, but in the
pictures she showed me, I could only spot about 20 hairstrokes per brow. The colour
was also a much darker - almost chocolate - brown than the soft-focus taupe I
usually use. Maybe that was just the pencil, but I would still be concerned
that the finished brows would be darker than I wanted.
I asked her at
the end if she wanted to see my pictures, and she said no, but I gave them to
her anyway. She quickly leafed through them and at one point said in surprise
“oh, I see what you want!” If only she had asked me that in the beginning, she
might have won a client.
I don’t have a
lot of money, and I really can’t afford to have this done at these prices. I
knew as soon as she wrote the prices down that eyeliner was out of the
question. I would definitely have paid for brows though, if I had more faith in
her process. Again, she was a lovely person, and I actually do think she is
probably the best in the field in my area, but what I realised is that the process
is highly subjective. It’s nowhere near as objective or “scientific” as she
suggests it is, and depends a great deal on the personality and preferences of
The process of
drawing the brows and liner on with a pencil may have actually done more harm
than good in terms of persuading me to go through with it. She only drew about a dozen hairstrokes on each brow, and they
looked crayony and messy. Not the neatly groomed and ultra-natural look I
achieve with makeup.
When I Google "permanent brows," I only like about 25% of the images that pop up, and about 50%
of them look dreadful. You know the ones I mean: solid, thin lines, set way too
far apart, too red or too blue, rounded like tadpoles, totally unnatural. Where
I live, the market for permanent brows still seems to be mostly (but not
totally) older women with plenty of money and old-fashioned tastes. I know
there are some AMAZING artists around, especially in Asia where they seem to
have nailed the process of doing really ultra-soft, full brows, so I’m not
slamming the process generally. I really don't want to imply that there's anything wrong with the process itself. I just think it depends SO much on the individual artist.
process was so frustrating and so exhausting for me as a sick person that it
was borderline traumatic. I actually burst into tears when I got home, (but
that was mostly because I was so sick that leaving the house for anything is
like running a marathon). It would have been less stressful if she had asked me just a little about myself straight up. If the brows were similar to those done by Tracy
Giles, I would save up for them, but for brows that aren’t anywhere near as
nice as those I sketch in myself, it wouldn’t be worthwhile. Judging by the consultation,
I would almost certainly walk out feeling that I hadn’t got exactly what I
wanted, and that I hadn’t been listened to. If I ever get too sick to do my
makeup myself, I’ll reconsider, but it would be with the understanding that it
won’t look as good as the makeup I do myself.
anything else I do, my eye makeup routine brightens and beautifies my otherwise
unhealthy face. It’s like a little face-lift. I would want a permanent makeup
artist to understand that and help me achieve something pretty close to what I
If you’re under
40 and prefer modern, fresh, full, soft, natural-looking brows like those you
see in CURRENT fashion magazines or on the runways and red carpets, just be
aware that some permanent brow artists cater to an older clientele with a more
1980’s -1990’s concept of the ideal brow shape/makeup style. If you have plenty
of options, shop around until you find one who thinks the way you do. If you’re
limited to those in your area, you might – like me – decide that you’re better
off sticking with makeup of the non-permanent kind.
For interest, I
use Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow in Light Ash to fill in my brows, and sometimes a
matte dark brown shadow (like Bobbi Brown "Mahogany") with a thin angled brush to sketch in a few fine “hairs.”
I find this combination of products really natural-looking and surprisingly long-wearing. They don’t even come
off on my pillow if I sleep with my makeup on. Which of course I never do. ;)
I know this
website probably isn’t for posting reviews of brows you haven’t even had done,
but I hope others might benefit from my experience of the consultation process.
I would post photos, but I do want to remain anonymous, and I’m also scared
that some random people might tell me my brows look horrible. I don’t want to
cry about my eyebrows twice in one year. ;)
Please see pics
for a rough illustration of what my eyes look like without makeup, with my own makeup,
and with the mock-up the tattooist did. I’ve made them as accurate as possible.
Hope this is
helpful for people on the fence!