From paper thin to bold and bushy, eyebrows have seen many styles over the decades and in recent years we have begun to see an increased emphasis on highlighting them in our makeup routine. What was once an overlooked feature is now being recognized for how important they are: the frames of the face.
With the increased awareness of styling our brows just right, we have seen an expansion of specific products and techniques that promise to be your ultimate brow solution.
Two innovations have taken over the brow conversation recently: brow lamination and microblading. What are these techniques and how do you know which one will work best for you?
So, what are the differences between brow lamination vs. microblading? In general, brow lamination is creating smooth brows in a set shape to enhance existing brows, while microblading is tattooing additional hair strokes with long-lasting pigment to create the appearance of more brow hairs.
Below, we will discuss in depth what each of these brow techniques are and how to determine which one is the correct one for you and your brows.
What Is Brow Lamination?
Brow lamination has been blowing up social media for the past few years, whether it is before and after photos or video tutorials documenting the entire process resulting in shiny, fluffy brows.
Essentially brow lamination is a “perm” for your eyebrows, but rather than creating waves or curls, this style of brow perm creates straight, vertical hairs that are sleek and shiny.
By perming the brow hairs in this way, it creates and adds a shape to the brow that is able to be maintained even without the use of additional brow products.
Individual brow hairs are defined and lengthened through the lamination process, which allows the brows overall to appear fuller, fluffier, and very much on-trend.
The lamination process also smooths the brow hairs and leaves a slight sheen, a result almost mimicking the application of how brows look after applying a brow gel.
If you’d like to see the whole process, here’s a great video from Huyana Beauty on YouTube.
Who Is Brow Lamination For?
Brow lamination works on a wide variety of brow types and concerns.
Whether you are looking for a solution to smooth out unruly brows, want to add definition to your arches, are concerned with thinning brow hair, or are dealing with gaps from over-waxing/tweezing, brow lamination can work to smooth, create shape, and assist the brows in appearing fuller.
If your brows are particularly sparce, or you have minimal brow hair, microblading might be the better solution for you so keep reading!
Benefits Of Brow Lamination
Brow lamination is a non-invasive technique that creates semi-permanent results, and the process can take less than one hour.
It can also be a more affordable alternative to fix brow concerns than its more invasive counterparts, such as tattooing or even microblading.
By straightening the brows hairs and allowing them to all lay in the same direction, brow lamination fills in the appearance of any gaps or space in the brow and gives the appearance of additional brow hairs. Brows look well-groomed, sleek, and give a natural appearance.
Downside Of Brow Lamination
While no needles or pigments are used in the brow lamination treatment, it does use processors that can cause irritation to the eye area.
Because the eyelids and the skin around the eye are delicate, using chemicals in those areas can cause redness, itchiness, bumps, or general irritation, especially if your skin is particularly sensitive already.
Some experts also caution that, much like with the hair on your head, “perming” the brow hairs consistently might cause eventual damage to the brow hairs.
Brow Lamination Process And Maintenance
To begin the process of brow lamination, a processor cream is applied to the brows to lift the brow hairs to make them pliable to be shaped in the desired direction.
Next, brows are brushed up in a uniformed and vertical direction, which is then followed by a lotion neutralizer to seal the brow hairs in place.
Lastly, a nourishing oil is provided to help mitigate any skin irritation or hair dryness that may occur due to the chemicals, along with any final grooming tweaks to the brows such as tweezing or waxing.
Avoid using cosmetics, steam, or skincare on the brows in the first 24 hours after the lamination takes place.
Brow laminations are semi-permanent, so while the results could last for a couple of months, touch-ups will be needed to maintain the shape and style generally every 6-8 weeks.
What Is Microblading?
Before brow lamination started taking over the scene, microblading was the in-demand brow service. While it is still a very popular treatment, it achieves a similar effect of a fuller brow through a different technique.
Microblading adds hair-like strokes to the eyebrows by using tiny needles to create realistic hair-like strokes, while depositing color pigment under the skin. The results are brows that appear fuller, denser, and more defined.
To see the full process, here’s a great video from It’s Laura Mranda on YouTube.
Who Is Microblading For?
Microblading works well for those who have sparse or patchy eyebrows that want to fill in areas where there is a loss of brow hair.
However, microblading can also work on those who want to add more definition to their brows or want to enhance the fullness of their natural brows.
Depending on how you want your eyebrows to look on a daily basis, microblading is a technique that can work for pretty much anyone.
Microblading is a process that can work for a wide variety of skin tones and hair colors as well, as there is a diverse range of color pigments available.
Benefits Of Microblading
Instead of spending the time in your makeup routine patiently filling in your eyebrows, microblading already takes care of it for you.
By filling the gaps in sparse areas and overall adding the appearance of more individual brow hair, the usual work of filling in and evening out your eyebrows with your typical brow styling product is not always needed.
The effects of microblading vary depending on your own desires for your eyebrows; you can work with your microblading expert on what the best brow look for you would be.
From adding needed brow hairs to the tail of your brow, a natural and soft definition, or a full and dense brow, each style can be achieved to work with your own features.
Microblading is a semi-permanent procedure, and the effects can last generally for about one to three years with minimal touch-ups needed.
Downside Of Microblading
Similarly to brow lamination, some irritation around the eye area can occur with microblading. As you should avoid washing and applying skincare and makeup to the eyebrows and surrounding area after the initial process, the newly microbladed brows will become itchy and start to scab over as the begin to heal.
Microblading does require time to heal, as the hairlike strokes are created by small cuts depositing pigment into the skin. Healing varies by individual but can generally take up to three to four weeks.
During the healing process, especially after the initial appointment, the appearance of your brows will vary in terms of color, texture, and overall appearance resulting in some scabbing and flaking.
Depending on skin type, amount of natural brow hair, and desired look, microblading often takes more than one session to achieve the end results. Second or third appointments are scheduled between 6-8 weeks after the first session.
Numbing creams are used during microblading appointments but depending on individual response to the numbing cream and pain tolerance, the microblading process can range from general discomfort to being more painful.
Microblading Process And Maintenance
The first step in the microblading process is discussing with your specialist the desired outcome and collaborating on what works best on your individual features. When the process is ready to start, the microblading specialist will use a numbing cream to the area and let the numbing begin to take effect.
Using a hand-held needling tool, the microblade specialist will begin creating small, hair-like strokes that are essentially tiny cuts to the skin. The color pigment is deposited with this small tool as well.
Because the device being used is a hand-held needling tool, the specialist has more control to manually create the desired shape and hair appearance rather than with a tattoo gun.
Typically, an aftercare treatment is applied at the end to aide in the healing process. After the first session, a second session is then required to finalize any needed touch-ups or tweaks. Depending on the desired look or scarcity of the natural brow hair, a third session might be encouraged.
After that, touch-ups are recommended about every 12 months. Microblading appointments can take anywhere from about 40 minutes to two hours or more, depending on the desired results, and do require several weeks to heal properly.
As previously mentioned, on average the results from microblading can last anywhere from one to three years, however oily skin types generally tend to absorb the pigment and fade quicker and may need touch-ups sooner.
Can Both Be Done?
Microblading and brow lamination do work well together because they target the brows through two different techniques. While microblading adds realistic hair-like strokes, brow lamination relaxes the brow hair to its more defined shape.
While microblading and brow lamination can be done together, it is best to wait until the microbladed brows have healed before starting the lamination process.
As both methods involve the delicate skin of the eye area, chemical creams, and/or needles, it is important to do your own research on the professionals you are interested in, read reviews on the salons, and ask questions to get a full understanding of who you are trusting your eyebrows with.
Brow Products To Try
With the changes in brow trends over the years, there have also been a great deal of brow products exploding on the market to help you achieve the brows of your dreams.
If you are still unsure of whether you want to try brow lamination or microblading, or want to try to achieve similar results as you wait to make your brow appointment, here are a few products that you can add to your routine now to see similar results.
To mimic the lifted and lengthened effect of a brow lamination, using a strong hold brow gel that helps to define the individual brow hairs will help.
A product like this no-color gel allows you to shape and lift your brow hairs into the feathered, soft look attained from a lamination, and has a strong hold to keep brows in place throughout the day. A gel like this works best with a clean mascara spoolie.
If you want to achieve a fluffy brow, but also like to add color to your brows then this is a great option for you. The tinted gel will still allow you to shape and define your brows to the desired appearance, but with the tint of color it will allow the brows to look slightly fuller with a more dimensional finish while still being natural.
With the fine pen tip applicator, it allows you to mimic hair-like strokes with precision. Using light flicks to draw on additional brow hair, you will be able to create the appearance of a fuller eyebrow overall.
Similar to a brow pen, a brow pomade allows you to draw on brow hair with a brush in a similar fashion to using a gel eyeliner with a slanted brush. By using a brush to apply the product, you can have more control than using an eyebrow pen, especially if you are a beginner to filling in your eyebrows.
Both of the brow gels can work with either the eyebrow pen or the brow pomade to provide additional hold or to create more definition to the brows.
Including one or more of these brow products into your routine can give you the chance to see what type of brow styles you like, what works best for you, and gives you a glimpse of what either brow lamination or microblading can look like for you.
Which One Is Best For You?
In general, brow lamination will give you a feathered, full result with definition to the individual brow hairs. The shape will remain in place as long as the treatment lasts. It works best if there is already an existence of some brow hair to begin.
Microblading adds density and fullness to the brow by adding in brow hairs in a natural way to fill in sparse areas, or even create an entire brow if little to no brow hair is remaining. You can achieve anywhere from a natural to bold brow, that requires little filling in with any additional product.
Both procedures are semi-permanent, however brow lamination does not last as long as microblading, lasting anywhere from 8-10 weeks, while microblading can last up to 3 years.
While brow lamination would require more frequent touch-ups, after the first or second session with microblading, touch-ups are only recommended every 12 or so months.
Brow lamination is non-invasive, requiring zero down time for the procedure to take effect. Microblading does require typically two weeks or more of down time to heal, and a second session to ensure the desired results are achieved.
As far as costs, brow lamination is more cost effective than microblading. Depending on where you go and where you are located, brow laminations can cost anywhere from $60 to over $150. Microblading on average can cost about $600, but can vary to be less than that, or closer to $2,000.
While brow lamination and microblading do have similarities, the goal of both methods is to have your eyebrows looking their absolute best for your own individual brow shape and style.
Eyebrows are an important feature on the face and help in providing structure and definition to the eye area and the face overall.
Whether you prefer going natural and make-up free most days or full-on glam, choosing the right brow style for you can help elevate your look to the next level and allow your unique features to shine through.