Brow lamination is one of the buzziest trends in beauty, and the treatment is often credited for the fluffy, defined brows popular with the celebrity and supermodel crowd. That said, the gravity-defying technique can also be mystifying for newcomers—and we’re all still new to it, since brow lamination only landed in the United States a few years ago, according to celebrity brow artist and facialist René de la Garza. “So, still a very new trend that is here to stay, and will only get better and better!”
But how does brow lamination work? And why is it called that? And, most important of all, are you stuck with fluffy brows once you’ve been laminated? Below, Garza and Studio Sashiko owner Shaughnessy Otsuji answer all the questions you have about the brow-enhancing treatment.
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WHAT IS BROW LAMINATION?
You know what laminated brows look like: tall, straight hairs that appear as if they were just brushed up with a spoolie and set with gel, yet keep their shape for days on end. But how do you get them to stick that way? “It is done using a gentle perm solution, neutralizing lotion, and moisturizing treatment to temporarily relax and redirect your brow hairs upwards and into place. Because the hairs are relaxed, they appear longer, giving the effect of a larger brow shape,” explains Otsuji. “The hairs also become more pliable after lamination, making this a great service if you are looking for a ‘fluffy’ brow without the need for a brow gel, or if your natural brow hairs are curly, unruly, or point downwards.”
Traditional brow services, such as waxing, can be incorporated into the service afterwards. “Once the solutions have treated the brows, the lifted and laminated brows are groomed by waxing and tweezing to perfection by styling the new shape,” adds Garza.
This [is] a great service if you are looking for a ‘fluffy’ brow without the need for a brow gel, or if your natural brow hairs are curly, unruly, or point downwards.
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CAN YOU DIY BROW LAMINATION?
That magical fluffy brow does, in fact, require the help of professional-grade ingredients. “Which is why you should never DIY your brow lamination,” notes Garza. “Instead opt for receiving the service from a trained and certified brow lamination artist. This treatment does not hurt.”
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WHY IS IT CALLED BROW LAMINATION, ANYWAY?
Think back to the laminator machines from grade school. “Lamination is the technique of overlaying a flat surface with a layer of plastic or some other protective material in an effort to keep it in place. In brow lamination, we follow a similar process,” explains Otsuji. “After applying the perm solution and neutralizing lotion to the hairs, the brow area is overlaid with plastic wrap to boost the chemical reaction and achieve the groomed end result. Because the result sees the hairs relaxed into such a uniform position, they appear set in place, or ‘laminated’, once complete!”
HOW LONG DOES BROW LAMINATION LAST?
Garza says that the biggest con to brow lamination is the fact that it only lasts six weeks, though you might be able to stretch that number higher if you’re lucky and smart with your beauty routine. This means no steam, sweat, makeup, or skin care products on the brow area for 24 hours, or retinol and exfoliators for 72 hours, according to Otsuji. “This allows the hairs to further set in their newly brushed-up place,” she adds. “Beyond that, incorporating a night oil into your aftercare routine will help keep the hairs nourished and healthy before your next appointment.”
Luckily, if you aren’t into how your brows look post-lamination, this means that you aren’t stuck with fluffed-up hairs forever. “Another thing to note is that immediately following the treatment, the brow hairs will appear quite flat, which can be a bit of an intense look—but after the first 24 hours have passed, you can start brushing them out into your desired shape where the overall look will soften,” Otsuji notes. “The initial look isn’t forever!”
WHICH BROW TYPES BENEFIT MOST FROM BROW LAMINATION?
All hair types and face shapes can get in on the fluffy brow trend via lamination, though you do need to have natural brow hair. If you’re sparse in that department, another service such as eyebrow microblading would be a better fit.
However, consult your brow artist before you count yourself out. “The beauty of this service is that it can be customized to each person’s face shape, eye shape, and desired brow shape. Although the brushed-up, bold and fluffy brow tends to be quite popular at our studio, brows can be laminated in a variety of different ways,” says Otsuji. “If you prefer a more neat and tidy look, you can request for your brow hairs to be styled by being brushed to the side and tapered together at the ends. Laminating the brow hairs upwards can create a nice lift to the eye, especially when the natural hairs tend to grow downwards.”
“It’s amazing for thin hair, because it strengthens and thickens the hair. It’s great for thick hair because it tames and smoothes. For curly hair, it really irons out the texture and straightens,” says Garza. “When designing brows, there are five things I take into consideration: Evenness, proportion, density, hair growth pattern, and makeup style.”
And the more you laminate, the easier it becomes. “Those with more coarse or curly hair may not achieve the same results as those with straight, fine hair—and the results tend to fade a bit more quickly,” Otsuji explains. “However, as you continue to regularly have this treatment done, the better your hair will relax and laminate!” Which means fluffy, lifted, and defined brows are in your future.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US