I love my eyebrows, but they require an insane amount of maintenance. This is confounding, as they haven’t been waxed or plucked since 2009. They’re thick, but in some parts my eyebrow hair is almost translucent, so I have to comb them over into place Donny Trump style and then set them with a clear gel probably made of like, horse plasma or koala semen. But on this old face of mine, with sweat that trickles from my pink peachfuzzed pores and hormonal acne that surges to the surface like a tulip in May and lips that I feel benefit from just a touch of Restylane (you know, like, as commentary on femininity…..), my eyebrows are all I really have.
I know I’m on the luckier end of the spectrum of eyebrow-related maladies as I don’t pick or pluck and they haven’t fallen out on their own accord, but I still want more. So I decided to get microblading, a procedure which is almost as scary and literal as it sounds.
I went under the knife with Piret Aava, The Eyebrow Doctor. Piret’s got an Instagram following and her own set of beautiful brows. She’s not really a doctor, but rather an aesthetician and tattoo artist certified in microblading and cosmetic tattoos. Her waitlist is over a year long and her microblading services are a simply mind-boggling $1,500 a session, but due to my incredibly annoying email persistence (“Hey, there”) and the ability to make myself seem more important than I really am (“I’m a writer at Man Repeller…”), Piret let me into her office gratis. I just want to make that clear here. I spent that $1,500 on moisturizer and lean deli meats, I’m sure.
First, she numbed me up, and then she drew a guide around my brows with eye pencil. Like an adult coloring book, only with blood and ink and facial flesh instead of a zen mandala or an English garden scene.
I was apprehensive about the size of the box she drew around my brows and the color of ink we decided on, and I did a lot of fussing about, like going to the bathroom twice and asking Piret to explain her special YouTube influencer-style halo light thing to me, but eventually, we had to get down to business. I laid down on her table, and she went to work with a sterile metal blade. It looked like an X-acto knife with a sparkly purple handle, which I thought was a nice girly touch.
Piret draws feathered strokes in the same direction as hair grows to create a natural-looking optical illusion of eyebrow hair. The blading hurt, but my hearty midwestern pride suffered through it, white knuckles gripping onto my own white knuckles. In all, Piret did about 30 strokes on each brow, but she said that it can be more than 100 strokes depending on your eyebrow fullness.
When I looked in the mirror, I was like “Damn!” My brows looked thick as hell, and not Instagram flat-ombre-brow thick. Just lush and natural and about two shades darker than my normal brows. I made Piret show me the bloody utensils, which she did not permit me to take a photo of, and went on my way. She told me not to freak out if I got home and they seemed too dramatic, or if I woke up the next morning regretting it. She also said not to exfoliate.
By the time I got home though, I was freaking out. They appeared almost black, and the vertically growing hairs on my inside brow corners looked like they’d been put in eyebrow jail, Piret’s thin strokes serving as the bars. I regretted it. I considered exfoliating the tattoo off. Piret told me the brows would last anywhere from one to three years, and I remember waking up and looking in my disgusting toothpaste-spattered mirror thinking, “I’ve ruined my face for my three last nubile years.”
But my sister Julia, whose eyebrows are bigger than Jesus, told me to wait it out. I’m so glad I did.
In two days, they started fading, every day just a hint less dire, until they reached the state captured in this picture.
No offense, but I look gorgeous.
They’ve stayed this shade for about two weeks now, and I’ve gotten tons of compliments, but nobody’s guessed what’s up. In fact, I wanted people to know so bad that I read an essay aloud in a Very Serious Class with an Important Writing Professor mentioning the eyebrow tattoos just so somebody would know. Everyone was like, “Hmm, weird choice.” But then, people not on this website are not entirely my people.
Next week, I’m going back to Piret for my touch-up session, suggested four to six weeks after the initial appointment. I’m going to ask her to microblade a hairy heart of my lover’s name on my bicep, too.
Claire Carusillo is a freelance and fiction writer in New York. She writes a weekly beauty newsletter offering off-label product usage advice. Collage by Maria Jia Ling Pitt; photos via Claire Carusillo.