Raise your hand if your social media intake has gone up about 17,293 percent since the world started social distancing. Yeah, hi, same…I even bit the bullet and downloaded TikTok after my Insta and Twitter content had officially run dry. But it was there on TikTok, between the “Savage” and “Renegade” dances, where I saw people DIYing the professional beauty treatment that is eyebrow lamination—aka a process that gives you slick, brushed-up, Cara Delevingne-esque brows (aka my dream).
Naturally as a beauty writer, my first thought was that the DIY probably wasn’t safe—especially since most of the formulas involve harsh-AF chemicals. But the more it popped up, and the more bomb results I saw, I started to get suuuuper curious. Like, could I be using my newfound ~free time~ as an excuse to up my eyebrow game? Before I did anything, though, I chatted with brow artist Melanie Marris for the lowdown on all things lamination.
Ahead, what you should know before booking a profesh appointment ASAQE (as soon as quarantine ends, bc trust me, if you have the means, you will want to) and, of course, whether or not you can safely DIY the process.
What is eyebrow lamination and how does it work?
If you aren’t familiar with the treatment, you can basically think of eyebrow lamination as the secret to getting high-shine and ultra-full brows. Though Marris says lamination has been around for quite a while, it’s recently shot into popularity (the thousands of #browlamination pics on Insta are proof) as a non-invasive (and less permanent) alternative to microblading. Brow laminations are great for filling gaps, adding definition, and giving the illusion of more hair to sparse brows.
Even though eyebrow lamination is often described as a “perm for your brows,” Marris says it’s actually the complete opposite. “Eyebrow lamination is a three-step treatment meant to straighten out the brow hair,” says Marris. “It’s the reverse of a perm because it’s straightening, not curling.” Here’s how the process typically goes:
- Step one: “First comes a lifting cream, which uses chemicals to break down the hair bonds to allow the hairs to move more freely into the shape we’re trying to create,” she says. After applying it to the brows, she tightly covers and presses the brows with a sheet of cling wrap (to really help the laminating process), then lets it sit for 8-10 minutes.
- Step two: “I then go in and brush a neutralizing cream on the brows, which reforms the hair bonds to their new shape,” says Marris. After re-covering with another sheet of cling wrap, she lets the cream set for another 8-10 minutes.
- Step three: “Last comes a hydrating oil treatment, which is left on the brows to cancel out any dryness,” she says. And that’s it—you’re done and laminated.
The whole treatment—including consult, shaping, and trimming— takes about 45 minutes at Marris’ LA-based salon, though she’s seen it done in 30 minutes at other places. The end result is brows that basically look selfie ready. And if the sleek, pin-straight look isn’t your vibe, DW, because the treatment doesn’t stiffen or lock your hair into place.
“It’s very versatile, so you can wear it fluffy one day and sleek and straight the next,” says Marris. “That’s one thing people don’t really understand—you can actually move around your brows afterwards.” The only product you’ll need for styling? A spoolie brush (which, for the record, you can snag in bulk on Amazon for super cheap).
How long does eyebrow lamination last, and how much does it cost?
Your new brows will last about eight solid weeks after treatment, which can run you anywhere from $80 to $140 depending on where you go. If you want your brows certifiably crisp 24/7, you can get a wax at around four weeks—but you’re not going to want to break that eight-week lamination mark. “If you over-laminate, you can run into some trouble,” says Marris. “It doesn’t happen to everyone, but some find the edges of the brow start to frizzle or singe.” That’s simply because your hairs are being over-processed and chemically damaged, which is super easy to avoid if you stick to the right schedule.
Is eyebrow lamination bad for your brows?
Short answer: no. The safety of your brows depends on how long the treatment is left on your hair during the first and second steps. If it’s left on for more than 10 minutes max, Marris warns that the hair can singe at the edges while it’s processing (just like it would if you laminated too frequently). Though “singe” sounds daunting, this is where the third step, the moisturizing treatment, works its magic: It rehydrates the hair fairly immediately, especially if you leave it on your brows for a full 24 hours after the treatment (avoiding sweat and water, obvi).
Marris says you should try to apply an oil on your brows every night to maintain hydration. She offers her own Brow Code Brow Gold Nourishing Growth Oil, but you can also use any face oil you already slather on your skin every night—just gently pat a small drop on your brows as the last step in your skincare routine.
Is eyebrow lamination safe to DIY?
Alright, here’s the thing: You can DIY an eyebrow lamination—but probably not in the way you’re thinking. Marris strongly advises against making your own solution via homemade products and chemicals—which, heads up, can not only damage your brows but also your skin—and to instead try a store-bought lamination kit. Every kit comes with its own instructions and you’ll have to follow them step by step—absolutely no deviating. And if a DIY kit still feels a little bit out of your wheelhouse (@ me), there’s nothing wrong with waiting until you can book an appointment with a pro. It is your face after all.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t get their brows laminated?
Marris says lamination is “open to anyone and everyone,” as long as your skin doesn’t react negatively to the formula (that’s why you should always ask your technician to start off with a patch test). It all comes down to what type of brow hair you have, which decides how long the first and second steps will be left on your brows: longer treatment for coarser, curly brows and a shorter treatment for fine, thin brows. This critical timing is up to the discretion of the stylist which, again, is why lamination is kinda best left to the professionals.
Painless. Fast. Turns you into Lucy Boynton (kind of). Eyebrow lamination, says Marris, is absolutely here to stay—no matter your brow type or goal is. Remember: If you decide lamination is right for you, make sure you and/or your stylist go into the process knowing your ideal end results. And although I probably won’t be DIYing lamination anytime soon (sry, I don’t trust myself), if you end up doing it please—and I mean pleeeeaaaseee—follow all the directions and keep that sh*t away from your actual eyeballs. Other than that, good luck and may your brows be A1.