That’s me! Thanks Katt for the pro before-and-afters.
When I heard that OFF & ON was coming to Wellington and offering their Browography brow tattoo service here, I was stoked. I’ve wanted my eyebrows tattooed for ages, but I didn’t trust any of the people who were offering it in Wellington (I would say ‘no shade’, but I guess that’s the definition of shade).
OFF & ON Wellington don’t offer Browography (their term for featherstroke semi-permanent eyebrow tattooing) all the time—instead their brow artist Katt comes down from Auckland once a month or so. I had my first session last Monday, so just over a week ago now. I’m loving the results and can’t wait to see how they heal and end up looking after my second session next month.
Heads-up: this is going to be a long one. I didn’t know a whole lot about the technique or process going in so I’m going to go through it in detail for you. I trusted Katt entirely with my face and thankfully she didn’t let me down, but I know it’s a big commitment, especially for the cost, so I want to tell you all about it.
First of all I should talk about why I wanted my brows tattooed. I’ve always felt like my brows were unbalanced, with the hair much denser at the front than in the tail, and with a weak arch. Complete fine, really, and I am much luckier than someone who has no eyebrow hair at all, for example. But filling in my brows gives my face some structure and really boosts my confidence—if I only had time for one or two makeup things, it would be a bit of coverage on the skin, and some filled in eyebrows. A good skincare routine can improve the appearance of my skin, but for a transformed brow shape, semi-permanent makeup is something I’ve always been interested in.
Me with bare eyebrows and a smokey eye (hah!) the morning of the first session.
Getting what’s essentially a tattoo on your face is a big deal, however. I’ve seen plenty of shoddy permanently tattooed eyebrows that look like they’ve been drawn on in biro. I’ve also seen plenty of ~stunning~ featherstroke before and afters that looked… well, like someone had tattooed on a bunch of lines supposedly resembling brow hairs. No one in Wellington did work that made me think “yes, I want you to tattoo my face”.
I was in OFF & ON Wellington for my laser consultation when they told me they offer Browography there, and showed me photos of Katt’s work. You can see some of these photos on Facebook, or pop in to the salon to take a look. This is what sold it for me. More than anything, they look natural. I’d rather have a more subtle result that looks like a real, natural brow than an eyebrow made up of diagonal stripes that don’t even remotely resemble hairs.
You start with a complimentary consultation to talk through what you’re after, how it can be achieved and any risks or contraindications. Kat pencilled in my brows to show me what the shape would look like, and to give me time to go home and get used to it. She asked me to avoid using retinol and AHAs in the period leading up to my first session to make sure my skin was strong. (I also couldn’t drink alcohol in the 24 hours before my appointment or coffee or tea on the day of. Otherwise, preparation was similar to any tattoo—make sure you’ve eaten something, your skin is clean and be ready for a little bit of pain.)
Day of, I was in the salon for about two and a half hours all up. First of all, Katt suited up and meticulously measured and marked out my face. This took ages, apparently because I kept arching my right eyebrow—but it’s hard to relax your eyebrows on demand!
Then she scrubbed up some more (seriously, the attention to hygiene is very reassuring) ready to get to work proper. She blended a custom shade and tested it next to my brows for me to approve—and it was perfect second try. She mixed some up in a tiny cup mounted to a ring on her finger (over her glove, duh) before going in for the first pass of hair-like strokes.
The tool used in Browography is nothing like a tattoo machine. It looks like a scalpel, but instead of a continuous blade, it’s made up of a line of tiny needles. This piece is disposable. The artist dips the tool in the pigment and then draws it along the skin to create a single “hair”.
Something like this (image from Australian Cosmetic Tattoo College).
Katt went over each brow once, lightly, before rubbing pigment into the marks and preparing for a deeper pass. She applied anaesthetic cream for the second pass, which was pressed deeper into the skin. The cream meant I didn’t feel a thing—although I certainly felt the first round. (Not entirely sure why I didn’t get the cream from the beginning.) A lot of people have asked me if it hurt, and the part I felt did. It feels like exactly what it is—someone cutting tiny lines into your face. (Cut maybe isn’t the right word, as they don’t bleed at all.)
My right eyebrow before and after the first Browography session.
Finally, I got briefed on aftercare. Katt gave me a tiny bottle of gel to apply 3–4 times a day until the brows heal. It doesn’t seem to be anything special, but I always abide by what a tattoo artist tells me to do, and this is no exception. Obviously hygiene is still very important and I’m under strict orders not to double-dip my cotton buds.
No matter which semi-permament brow tattoo you’re getting—Browography, featherstroke, feather touch, brow embroidery, micropigmentation, they’re all the same thing really—you’ll need to have a follow-up session. The pigment is applied very close to the surface of the skin, and everyone’s skin heals differently. You can expect lots of fading after your first session. My brows were super dark immediately afterwards, but have now faded to a more subtle look. In my next session, Katt will refine the shape and deepen any areas that need more pigment.
A snapchat selfie the day after the first session—my eyebrows are raised because I don’t know how to take photos with them relaxed, lol.
Here’s how they look now, ten days later. (Excuse the blurred background, that’s work stuff!) Super natural, I think—I’m not wearing any makeup and they don’t look out of place. Honestly, the difference they make in my confidence is immeasurable. Before, if I saw my face without makeup I wasn’t happy with what I saw, but now it feels much more balanced and complete. I don’t feel like I wish I had makeup on!
The total cost for two sessions and the aftercare balm is $895. I would be happy having paid that—to me, these brows would be worth almost any price, but I’m lucky enough to have been given the service free by OFF & ON, which I’m incredibly grateful for. They’re not paying me anything and obviously this whole post is my own opinion, but I would absolutely recommend you check them out if this is something you’re interested in (or just for brow services in general!)
I’ll write another blog post when I’ve had my second session next month, to follow up and show you the finished product. I’d love to know what you think! Do you like how they came out? Would you ever consider Browography, or another semipermanent eyebrow makeup service?