I Tried It: The Eyebrow Shaping Treatment That Costs $600

Our editor goes under the blade for good brows.


Going under the blade for good brows. | iStockphoto/Jacob Wackerhausen.

It’s very easy for most women to justify absurd beauty and fashion purchases. We practically have our master’s degrees in it. That stupidly expensive midi dress? “It can be dressed up or dressed down. I’ll basically live in it this summer!” That insanely pricey lotion? “I only have to use the tiniest amount, so it’s actually a good value in the end!” And the eyebrow treatment I just got that cost more than a car payment? “It’s gonna save me minutes every morning, for years, and that is priceless!”

But, in the end, was it actually worth it?

I’d never heard of microblading before, but it didn’t surprise me to learn it was one of those things that has been popular in New York and LA for a while. It’s not being offered in many places in Philly (yet), but 3000BC Well Med Spa in Chestnut Hill is all over the trend, with licensed medical esthetician Janine Slater offering the service. (She actually spent days training with the leading microblading expert.)

Microblading promises to define and fill in sparse brows in a more permanent way, so that you can toss (at least for a few years) your brow pencil and cancel that standing tinting appointment. The name – besides sounding kinda badass – hints at the process: ink is applied via teensy-tiny blades. While the method is similar to permanent make-up and tattoo-esque, there is no electric tattoo needle used and the treatment is extremely precise and custom. Really, it’s meant to enhance the hairs you already have, not create a brow where there is none. (BTW: It’s a great treatment for those who have gone through chemo; Slater specializes in post-treatment application.)

Turns out, microblading is sort of like the balayage of eyebrows. First, Janine chose the right color by painting some ink samples onto my face, which she then examined outside on the spa’s back patio to make sure the color looked non-freaky in natural light. Once we decided on a shade, and after she gave me a good old-fashioned wax-and-tweezer-shaping, she began the process. She dipped a super-fine blade into the ink and made tiny little cuts under and around my brow hairs, following their natural shape, path and direction. She even does lowlights and highlights to make it look as real as possible. Just over two hours later, my brows looked darker, thicker, perfectly groomed.

Microblading Before and After2

A before and after via 3000BC.

So, did it hurt? Not as much as I thought (when I first booked the treatment, I was asked if I ever needed to be sedated during dental procedures. Eek!). It was as about as uncomfortable as a typical wax, thanks to Slater’s constant slather of numbing cream. There’s a bit of aftercare: You shouldn’t get your brows wet for at least 24 hours and you’ll need to apply a tattoo cream for a few days following the procedure, just to help things heal. Eventually—since you did in fact get tiny cuts—these little cuts will scab over and flake off, but it’s nothing you’ll need to call out sick for. In fact, most people won’t even notice.

Before and After 1

A before and after via 3000BC.

But I notice. And I am pretty psyched with the results. My brows are neat and full, my eye area is brighter, and I look more put together without even trying, in the way that your skin looks after a facial. I haven’t had to spend a second thinking about them, which is a blessing to a busy mom like myself.  The two-hour treatment costs $500 and a touch-up a month later (which costs $100) is recommended, to add in some more and/or different color (I’ll ask for a few more dark strokes, I think). While you’ll still need to pluck, wax or thread to remove unwanted hair, the fullness and color results can last up to two years.

Which means, then, that I have two years to come up with my next justification.