Brow Lamination Is the Secret to Perpetually Fluffy Brows
If you have trouble getting your eyebrows to stay brushed into place, brow lamination could be the answer.
Think of a few words to describe your ideal eyebrows. Depending on your tastes, "feathery," "HD," or "natural" might come to mind, but "laminated?" Doubtful. Believe it or not, though, a new treatment called eyebrow lamination is gaining traction. If you like the sound of waking up to perfectly-fluffed brows, you'll definitely want to look past the name.
Brow lamination is essentially a brow perm that sets your hairs in place. Scroll through brow lamination before and after photos on Instagram and you'll see the treatment can create results that look like each individual hair was meticulously placed. (Related: What Is Microblading? Plus More Qs, Answered)
The brow lamination process involves three steps:
- A technician brushes on a brow adhesive to secure the hairs in an upward direction.
- Then, they're coated with a softening lotion, which relaxes the hair cuticle. While brows are malleable, the technician shapes them into your desired style.
- Next, the technician applies a neutralizer (or a fixing lotion) that sets the hairs into the new position. (If you want to get technical: Together, these solutions break down the disulfide bonds that cause your hair to hold its shape, then reform new bonds. That's also how lash lifts, keratin treatments, and other hair perms work, too.)
- Finally, they apply a nourishing treatment that helps hydrate and condition your brows.
The whole process takes about 30-45 minutes total. Afterward, you need to wait 48 hours before letting your brows get wet, then the results can last six to eight weeks.
Since the treatment involves shaping your natural hair rather than coloring your skin, it's best suited for people who already have somewhat full eyebrows.
"If you have severely thin or over-plucked brows and want a different shape and the illusion of more hair, then microblading may be a better option," says Jaimineey Patel, head of training at Blink Brow Bar London. "However, if you're happy with your shape and would just like them to appear fuller, smoother, or to tame them, then lamination should be perfect." (Related: The Best Eyebrow Makeup If You're Just Not Ready for Microblading)
Your hair type can also factor into your results.
"If you have naturally kinky hair and your brows have some natural curl to them, it's harder to take the keratin treatment," says Geneva Fong, a makeup artist who provides brow lamination in NYC. "You'll have to let the treatment sit on them a bit longer, and that's not great for your skin." (A common ingredient, ammonium thioglycolate, can irritate and sensitize skin.)
Back to those #browlamination photos on Instagram. You might notice a theme: brushed-up Olsen twin-level brows. But brow lamination can also create a more subtle look, if that's your thing.
"Brow lamination has grown in popularity due to the big, feathery brows it can create," says Patel, "but our approach at Blink is to ensure the treatment is used to create the brow that suits you rather than following trends." It can be used to fill gaps, realign hairs that fall downward, and tame wayward hairs, she says.
In the U.S., eyebrow lamination services typically cost around $75-$100, so the total cost for a year of maintenance is on par with microblading.
It's easy to order a brow lamination kit online (they'll run you $70-200 for 10-40 applications), but proceed with caution. "If you're confident enough in creating your own shape, it's not the worst idea," says Fong. "I think someone who's had experience with hair and makeup would be able to do it themselves." But because the chemicals used in brow lamination are strong and have the potential to irritate your skin, she wouldn't recommend that the "everyday person" pick up a kit and go to town. Patel recommends leaving your brows in the hands of a reputable technician since they'll take cautionary steps like doing a patch test beforehand. (Related: Everything You Want to Know About Lash Lifts)
How to Fake the Look
If you don't have access to the treatment, you can easily get similar, less permanent results with the right tools. Fong has three tricks for setting brows into place so that they actually stay put:
Need more ideas for how to DIY brow lamination at home? Here are a few products that can help you master the look on a budget.
NYX The Brow Glue
Some people use glue-like hair gel to keep their brow hairs lifted (see: Ashley Graham's $6 hack for great eyebrows), but if you prefer a product that's literally made for your brows, NYX The Brow Glue (Buy It, $8, ulta.com) is an easy-to-apply (and -remove) pick for all of your brow-shaping needs. For less than $10, you not only get the glue itself but also a spoolie brush to precisely apply the product to your brows for your desired shape and up to a 16-hour hold.
One Ulta reviewer writes, "Although it's small, a little goes a long way, and it really does keep your brows in place. Buy this if you're looking to ditch the soap and don't want to pay for the overpriced [alternatives]."
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Freeze Styling Wax
If you're looking to achieve brows as full-bodied as your favorite wine, look no further than Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Freeze Styling Wax (Buy It, $23, ulta.com). It's no secret that ABH knows a thing or two about enhancing brows, and this next-level brow wax is proof. Not only does the Brow Freeze Styling Wax help tame brow hairs for a feathered, laminated look, but it also grips to the skin and hair for a long-lasting, residue-free hold.
Patrick Ta Major Brow Shaping Wax
What better way to perfect the shape of your eyebrows than by promoting healthy hair growth? The formula in Patrick Ta's Major Brow Shaping Wax (Buy It, $22, sephora.com) features peptides that encourage hair growth, plus glycerin and olive oil to condition, soften, and protect your brows and skin. Just mist the shaping wax with setting spray to activate the product, then apply it with a spoolie, brushing your brow hairs upward toward the skin. As stated by Patrick Ta himself, "The great thing about this formula is that it's strong, but not stiff or crunchy, and you can just brush through and reshape throughout the day."
Glossier Boy Brow Grooming Pomade
Inspired by traditional hair pomade, Glossier's Boy Brow Grooming Pomade (Buy It, $16, glossier.com) is available in five shades: blonde, brown, black, auburn, and clear. If a soft, flexible hold is what you desire most for your brows, you'll thoroughly enjoy this brushable, ultra-creamy wax. One viral reviewer recalls getting into a car accident while wearing this brow-grooming product and leaving the hospital with fully-intact brows. While it's not exactly recommended that you test the pomade's staying power in the same way, the review is certainly a testament to the product's impressive durability.
Makeup Revolution Soap Brow Styler
Leave your traditional bar soaps for their intended purpose and grab this brow-friendly version instead. Makeup Revolution's Soap Brow Styler (Buy It, $8, ulta.com) grips every individual brow hair to set them in place for a laminated look. Additionally, the DIY brow lamination kit features a mirror and brush so you can style on-the-go. Several Ulta reviewers rave about how gentle the product is on their brows compared to regular soap, which many people find irritating to the skin and hair follicles. (Related: Shower Tips to Avoid Dry, Irritated Skin)
Fenty Beauty Brow MVP Sculpting Wax Pencil & Styler
As its name suggests, Fenty Beauty's Brow MVP Sculpting Wax Pencil & Styler (Buy It, $20, sephora.com) is the real MVP for achieving the laminated brow look for less, according to Sephora reviewers. "I am a cosmetologist who performs brow laminations as well as...a brow lamination client," reads one review. "I have very curly hair meaning I have curly brows. I use this to get me between the weeks when I'm overdue for a lamination. I love this wax since it's not drying to the brows or skin. It's flexible, long wearing and of course lays these bushy brows down."
The formula is also sweat- and water-resistant, so if impeccably styled brows while working out or taking a dip in the pool tickles your fancy, it only makes sense to have this product in your arsenal. (Related: Workout Makeup That Stands Up to Your Sweatiest Activities)
e.l.f. Cosmetics Shape and Stay Wax Pencil
Don't let the affordable price tag on e.l.f. Cosmetics' Shape & Stay Wax Pencil (Buy It, $2, ulta.com) fool you, because this baby means business. Enriched with vitamin E, a vital antioxidant to help nourish the skin, this wax pencil can be used solo or as a precursor to filling in your brows. The lightweight formula is flattering on virtually any brow hair color and will make your brows look instantly groomed.