Having a tattoo on your face isn't a decision to be taken lightly, even if it's not a hangover-style design running from temple to jaw. Eyebrow inking has been around for a while, but I've always associated it with that surprised, black-marker-pen effect (I refer you to Kim Kardashian obsessive Jordan James, below). Each to their own, obviously, but I prefer the more natural look, and always assumed a tattooist's chair wasn't the place to get it. But growing back over-plucked brows is hard, goddamit. And some areas of my brow bone just don't 'do' hair anymore, resulting in a lot of filling in–a job that makes me both bored and angry (bangry?)
Then one day I found myself admiring the envious arches of a certain reality-TV star in a certain reality-TV house. Whenever the alarm sounded and she shot up in bed looking crumpled and hung-over, her brows still looked immaculate. I spend a fair amount of time looking crumpled and hung-over, so Googled her secret and found permanent makeup artist Tracie Giles.
When I nervously stepped into my first consultation, Tracie assured me her 3D Hair By Hair Brows aren't eyebrow-shaped tattoos (if anyone ever offers you that, run for the hills). "I use pure hypoallergenic minerals to weave microscopic hair strokes among a client's natural ones," she explained. "This is done under intense magnification using a precision acupuncture needle."
Tracie spent ages studying my face, designing what she considered to be my perfect brow shape, using a white pencil to blank out the hairs she wanted to remove and a darker one to draw in the ones she would add permanently. Seeing the brow shape I'd end up with before giving her the go-ahead felt very reassuring.
So, was the tattooing itself painful? Well, there were moments when I found myself gripping the sides of the bed, but it was only a hair stroke of pain at a time, so bearable. And worth it; I loved my perfectly symmetrical new shape. The initial darkness did make me flinch, but Tracie assured me the colour would fade by up to 50% within a week, and she was right. After a top-up a few weeks later, I was the proud owner of some seriously shapely, natural-looking brows. Even my mum's partner pointed them out) and he can't even tell me and my twin sister apart after eight years–go figure).
They'll need maintaining every nine-to-12 months, and as the treatment costs £495 (about $555), with the annual retouch coming in at £225 ($252), this doesn't fit everyone's budget. But for a brow obsessive like me who can't hack getting bangry every morning, it's a treat well worth saving for.
How to find a good permanent makeup artist, according to the British Association Of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology (BABTAC).
• Take a look at your therapist's portfolio to gauge their experience.
• Social media makes it easier than ever to read client reviews, so do your research
• Check out your therapist's training, which should be accredited by either an awarding organisation or an official association such as BABTAC.
• Make sure your therapist has specialist treatment-risk insurance to cover you both.
• Before booking, ask the therapist to show you around the clinic so you can check it's clean and hygienic.
• A good therapist will be able to prove that the machine being used in the treatment has a CE mark, and the pigment follows the EU safety regultions.
• Some councils require therapists to have a special treatment license. If yours does, ask to see a copy.
• Be wary if the price seems unusually cheap. This is an invasive treatment and it should cost a reasonable sum.