The great brow revival of 2012 saw model Cara Delevingne and her bushy arches become a permanent fixture on the modelling scene. As beauty lovers everywhere pondered all the ways that they could enhance their own arches, a host of brow grooming trends followed: tinting, threading, HD tattooing, microblading...the list goes on. However one brow movement in particular has piqued our interest this year. Enter: brow lamination.
What is brow lamination?
Hailing from Moscow, the treatment involves a semi-permanent grooming formula, which is relatively similar to a hair perm. A chemical solution infused with keratin is combed through brows, setting the hairs in a brushed-up shape which lasts for six to eight weeks. Unlike threading or waxing, the treatment is pain-free (although an allergy test is required to determine any potential reactions), takes as little as 40 minutes and achieves instant results with low-maintenance aftercare. Even better, lamination works on all brow types, even much thicker, coarse hairs. It's also ideal for those who fill in sparse patches with product, as hairs can be shaped to where coverage is needed.
With salons closed due to coronavirus, brow technicians are no longer practising brow lamination. But an increase in DIY kits means beauty obsessives have been giving it a go in the comfort of their own bathrooms, and the results are surprisingly good. So in the name of honest beauty journalism I bought one. Granted, my brows aren't unmanageable (I merely pluck them and have never tried microblading, waxing, threading or tinted them previously). I do, however, use Soap Brows to make them look fuller and fluffier on a daily basis. Would at-home brow lamination help me achieve the Instagram-worthy effect permanently? I was intrigued.
How to do brow lamination at home
The kit I bought came complete with formula and instructions, which encouraged me to perform a patch test 24 hours prior to using. It's easy to cut corners at home but this is incredibly important to avoid allergic reactions or damaging brow hairs. As I prepared to laminate, I was no more nervous than using an at-home hair dye. To start, I set a six-minute timer and dispensed the Lifting Lotion on to a spoolie brush. This creates a chemical process that breaks down bonds in each hair, allowing them to be moved into a new shape. I covered both brows fully as per instructions.
Once fully coated, I placed a strip of clingfilm over my brows to keep them slightly warm. Some technicians say that this helps speed up the process. There was no pain or tingling, just a very strong eggy smell, which I can’t say was pleasant.
After six minutes of waiting for the formula to do its thing, I removed the clingfilm and lotion using a damp cotton pad. But there was still a way to go. Setting another six-minute timer, I dispensed the Setting Lotion onto a spoolie and brushed each brow upwards into the exact shape I wanted. This was easy and I liked that I had control over how my brows looked. I could have brushed my brows vertically for a more striking look, but brushed the hairs to a 45 degree angle for a softer result. Once I was happy with the shape, I covered them with a fresh strip of clingfilm.
Top tip: the time passes very quickly so it’s best to have everything laid out and prepared. When six minutes were up, I removed the lotion with a damp cotton pad. At this stage, you could just stop. But I have blonde hair and so leaving on the optional tint for as little as a minute was advised. I applied this with a micro-applicator and removed with a damp cloth. That said, I instantly regretted tinting. It was a little too dark for my hair colour. Tint aside (and remember it always fades with time), I was very impressed with my new brows. The process was quick and gave me the result I’d hoped for.
Top brow lamination tips to know
After laminating, it’s important to keep your brows dry for at least 24 hours, which I'll admit is difficult. I showered but didn’t wash my hair, skipping my foaming cleanser for one on a cotton pad. That said, post-care is minimal. You must keep brows moisturised daily with a touch of face oil, otherwise they could feel brittle.
Since my instructions called for two six-minute applications, I think an at-home kit errs on the side of caution when it comes to timings, as you’re not in the hands of a professional. Because of this, I didn’t think my lamination would last the six to eight weeks promised but I was wrong. My brows remained in place for six weeks exactly before returning to their pre-laminated look.
Safety-wise, a patch test must be done prior and a kit should always come with detailed instructions. Sherrille Riley, celebrity brow expert and founder of Nails & Brows Mayfair told me: "One of the main risks with at-home brow lamination is over-processing resulting in dry, damaged hairs." She also says that lamination is not suitable if you are pregnant or have hyper sensitive skin. "The straightening solution can cause severe irritation," Sherrille added. Again, it's important to test first. Try the formula on the inside of your elbow and monitor your skin for any changes or irritation. If you are doing this at home, try your best not to get any solution in your eyes, as this could potentially cause damage.
For six weeks, I used no brow product as I was so happy with how my eyebrows looked and I didn’t wear much makeup, as I felt more put together. On week four, though, I lost two brow hairs. Whether this would have happened anyway, I’m not sure. Otherwise, they didn’t move a millimetre.
If anything, I'm slightly miffed that lockdown means I haven’t seen friends in person, only getting to show off my boujee brows to my local supermarket shoppers. But I'll definitely be laminating again. I'm just saving my next kit for when we're allowed to be social!