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What Is Brow Lamination? The Trend Is Still All Over Instagram

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Much like our closets, our eyebrows have enjoyed ebbs and flows through the trend cycle in years past. The Instagram-favorite block brow overthrew the thin, over-plucked shape that was popular throughout the '90s and early '00s, followed by microblading's moment in the late 2010s, with henna tinting and sugaring sprouting up in between. Now, a treatment has bubbled to the top of every Instagram feed, so what is brow lamination — will it give me fuller brows?

"Brow lamination also referred to as a 'brow lift' is a service that creates the look of full, fluffy brows by realigning the directional hair growth and enhancing the brow shape," says Connie Ko, cosmetic and medical tattoo artist and founder of Jelly Lab in Los Angeles. "It is a semi-permanent brow perm great for stubborn, down growing, curly brows to achieve the popular editorial brow look. Brow lifts make it easier to style your brows to your preference."

Fluffy, full brows are always in style, which has only helped fuel the popularity of the treatment. Brow lamination, typically offered at salons from $70 to $130, allows you to shape your brow hairs in any way you need — whether you want them pointing straight up or any which way — and holds them in place without the use of brow gel.

Though it will probably be awhile before things go back to normal and you can actually book a brow lamination appointment, it's always fun to add things to your post-coronavirus to-do list. (And trust: Brow laminations are totally worth the wait.) Ahead, read everything you need to know about brow lamination and whether or not it's the right treatment for you.

What Is A Brow Lamination Process Like?

You should go into your appointment with your brows free of makeup and any other product, but your technician should cleanse your hairs anyway. Ko also applies a barrier like a petroleum-based lubricant around the brows to protect the skin from the chemicals. After cleansing and drying, an adhesive — or "lift," as some techs refer to it — is applied to the brows as the hairs are combed straight up to realign the hair's growth pattern.

Step two is the lamination process helps hold the new hair growth in place. After the product is applied, a plastic wrap is placed over the brows to occlude the hairs and set in place for five to 15 minutes, depending on your hair type. For the third step, the brows are set in place with a different solution and wrapped in plastic again. Finally, the brows are conditioned with a keratin solution or something equally nourishing — depending on the brow tech's preference — to soften the hairs after processing.

The process typically takes around an hour, and is often combined with tinting to make the brows appear naturally fuller. Effects can last up to six to eight weeks, and it's recommended that you wait at least eight to 12 weeks in between each appointment, according to Ko.

Who Can Get Brow Lamination Done?

"Due to the natural downward-growing brow pattern, clients think their natural brows are small and thin, but by relaxing and lifting the hairs, they appear thicker and fuller," says Ko. So anyone who wants their brow hairs to appear thicker and fuller and likes an editorial, fluffy look can try out brow lamination.

Those with hypersensitive skin or eyes, breakouts around their brows, and women who are pregnant or nursing should stay away from brow lamination. The chemicals used in brow lamination can sometimes give off fumes that irritate the skin and eyes, so that's something to keep in mind.

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Who Should Get Brow Lamination?

"Our clients who regularly get brow laminations absolutely love the effects of what this service does for their brows," says Kayla Weiss, owner of Los Angeles eyebrow threading chain Thread Eyebrows. "It not only gives your brows the appearance of being twice as thick, but some clients have eliminated brow gel as part of their daily routine." If brow gel is one of your daily staples, the treatment almost eliminates the need for it.

How Can You Achieve Brow Lamination At Home?

While there are some DIY brow lamination kits on the market, Ko strongly advises against them. "Brow lamination products that professionals use are made up of strong, high-grade ingredients, and you really need to know what you are doing," she says. "You can easily over-process the hair, causing it to eventually break off, or you could burn your skin."

But don't you worry — a temporary brow lamination can be achieved with a little bit of makeup and a couple easy techniques. Most makeup artists mimic a laminated brow with a little bit of clear soap, setting spray, and a firm fingertip. (Remember soap brows? They're back.) A general rule of thumb is to make sure that your skin is completely clean before you try out the soap brow trick to make sure that your hairs stick to your skin; do your brows before your skincare, and be really strategic and precise when you apply your products afterward.

Celebrity makeup artist Jose Corella recommends finding soap that is clear and mostly glycerin, since creamy soaps typically leave a white cast on the hairs. Spray a strong setting spray like Urban Decay's All Nighter directly onto the bar, coat a spoolie brush in the soapy gel, and brush your brow hairs into their desired shape. Then use the pad of your finger to press the hairs onto your face to get that spiky, editorial effect.

Katie Jane Hughes, another makeup celebrity makeup artist, warns that this technique is only really works for people with straight hair because it isn't strong enough to hold curly or wavy hair in place for that long, so for her curly-haired clients, she typically recommends a "crunchy brow gel" like Blink Brow Bar London's Brow Build Gel. Though you won't be able to flatten the hair against the skin with a gel like this, you can direct the brow hairs up in a fluffier shape.

If mixing up soap and setting spray seems a little intimidating, Benefit Cosmetics Global Brow Expert Jared Bailey has a solution for you. Benefit's 24-Hour Brow Setter can help you get that desired effect. Take the wand out of the bottle and let it get tacky (similar to lash glue). Brush the product through the brows, style them up and out so they look extra fluffy, and let your hairs get overly saturated to make them look thicker and fuller. Then use the flat side of the wand to press the brows up (similarly to how you would use your finger tips in the soap brow technique).

While you probably won't have the luxury of having a brow lamination treatment done anytime soon, it's definitely something to look forward to when you're allowed to book appointments again. In the meantime, you can try out the DIY versions — if only for a quick Instagram pic.

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