Bold brows are having a major moment. The over-plucked arches of the early aughts are ancient history, and up-and-comers like Cara Delevingne and Zendaya have ushered in a new look that’s striking, face-framing … and nearly impossible to replicate without the aid of a makeup tutorial. I’m none too handy with a brow pencil, so when I heard of microblading—a tattoo-like process that shapes and substantiates the brows with hair-like strokes of pigment— I quickly made an appointment with LaDonna Brooks, owner of The Babe Spa and certified microblading expert.
THE ETHOS: The Babe Spa is small but mighty, a one-woman operation offering a cornucopia of cosmetic procedures: event makeup, eyelash extensions, facials, manicures and more—though Brooks tells me that microblading has become one of the main moneymakers. That’s because she’s one of few aestheticians in the area who are certified.
THE SPACE: Brooks has a spot at the Phenix Salon Suites in Federal Hill. Square footage is minimal, but it’s stylish: A Lucite-look chandelier and chairs, a metallic gold geometric-print accent wall and plush faux-fur throw rugs bring out the “Babe” vibes.
THE PROCESS: We had a quick consultation about my normal brow care (a little bit of powder, the occasional wax) and what I wanted from my new brows (darker, thicker, a more defined arch). After studying my face from multiple angles, she traced the planned shape around my existing hairs and had me give it a long look in front of the mirror to ensure my satisfaction.
Brooks then applied a numbing cream to my brows. As it worked its magic for the requisite 35 minutes, I hopped down from the recliner and filled out the extensive paperwork about risks, aftercare, etc. When I’d finished, we chatted about brow shapes and dye colors, eventually wandering into our takes on various pop culture happenings and her plans for the future.
Once I was back in the chair, she strapped on her medical mask and gloves and unwrapped a fresh blade. (It was indeed micro, like a mini X-Acto knife.) She put three dabs of dye above my brows for reference, allowing me to choose which would best befit my face. I went with the medium-brown option, “Copper,” and she went to work.
In all honesty, it was incredibly bizarre. I could feel Brooks dragging the pigment-dipped razor across my skin to make the tiny hair-like incisions, but it wasn’t painful—more a slightly disturbing tugging sensation. This went on for about 45 minutes, with her periodically holding a hand mirror up to get my feedback. She wiped away the excess pigment (and blood—yikes), and that was it.
THE VERDICT: Immediately after the procedure, my brows were very bold, thick and starkly angled, but have since faded to a more natural look. Aftercare was a bit tough—washing your face without touching your eyebrows is no easy feat, and there was some redness and flaking—but two weeks later, they’re better than new. Talk about highbrow.