If you’re into the beauty scene and are on Instagram, chances are you’ll be well aware of microblading. It’s the trend that’s swept the nation, giving those perfect ‘I woke up like this’ brows that can last around a year – yes, that’s a whole year without having to pencil in! Now, let’s get real, while microblading offers a more natural look than ‘classic’ block-style tattooing, it’s still a serious commitment, and I urge anyone to arm themselves with plenty of research before taking the plunge.
While I’d perfected the art of creating arches where there weren’t any and adding colour where it was lacking, I was bored with the time I was spending on my brows each morning. I’d been looking into microblading techniques for about a year, conscious of the cost and commitment – as well as finding someone I could trust to get the style to my liking. Microblading originated in Asia and, though it’s been around for a long time, has recently grown in popularity thanks to celebrity trends. Karen Betts was one of the first professionals to bring such treatments to the UK and it was her company, KB PRO, that trained Natalie Tooke, the microblading artist at Cambridge Contour Clinic (CCC).
Gearing up to celebrate its first birthday, CCC launched with a team of five practitioners and artists, offering an array of aesthetic treatments which includes injectables, dermaplaning, microneedling and microblading. Director Bradley Melbourne Wilks explains the ethos behind CCC and how it likes to keep things simple: “A vast majority of our treatments revolve around assisting the body to do what it does best. Encouraging habitual changes or offering services that will give the best chance to achieve the desired results, a more refined you.”
Before my brows went anywhere even close to a blade, I was invited to the clinic to have a consultation with Natalie, who’s been in the industry for a decade, previously owning a successful local beauty salon. When I walked through the door, the first thing I noted were Natalie’s own well-groomed brows. A good sign. Natalie was incredibly thorough, talking me through the procedure, as well as discussing her own training and methods with me. Microblading is still fairly unregulated and, technically, you can get ‘qualified’ in just a day. However, Natalie’s extensive training with KB PRO took nine months, which was reassuring. I had lots of questions of my own, but the longer I was with Natalie, the more at ease and excited I felt.
Bradley had explained that “you can almost get everything you need from a photo. There is a range of expertise and experience out there in the world of microblading, but it is shockingly unregulated. We have definitely opted for what, in our opinion, best replicates natural brows. Most notably we allot ample time and we use it. We also avoid linear lines or a patterned approach as much as reasonably possible. We could easily half the time of treatments if we did, though it is a simple choice for us: if you can provide better, you should.” The images on CCC’s growing Instagram page, @merefined, speak for themselves and are especially reassuring, as one of my main concerns were the results looking fake.
At the end of the consultation, clients are encouraged to go home and give it some additional thought – armed with a tonne of information. When my appointment came, the preparation took around an hour and involved colour matching before using all sorts of rulers and tools to map out my brows. Now as we know, brows are sisters and not twins, and because no face is really symmetrical Natalie explained how some freehand tweaking of the shape would be necessary for the most natural result. Numbing cream on, I laid back comfortably. Using a small bladed tool, Natalie proceeded to create little strokes to my brows. Pain is one of the top questions people have before this treatment, but as the owner of multiple tattoos, it wasn’t top of my concerns. However, it really didn’t hurt. There is a light scratching sensation and some people may feel slight discomfort, but no watery eyes or squirming, I promise!
After around an hour, we were done and I got to take a first look at my new brows. With all microblading, there should be two treatments as standard. One initial and a touch-up appointment around four to six weeks later. Natalie explained that with her approach she prefers to go softer on the first appointment to make sure the client is comfortable and happy, as well as give her the chance to see how the skin reacts – as everyone is different when it comes to pigment retention and healing. The most important thing is to follow the aftercare instructions exactly – and do as you’re told! You’ve essentially got wounds on your face, so they need to be treated with care. Don’t get them wet and no make-up or creams can go near them until they’re healed. There can be a little scabbing, but you’ll be back to normal after around 10 days.
After four weeks, I was ready for my top up – this is where the magic happened. I’d become used to my new brows, but as a make-up fiend, I was keen for a little more definition. We went a little deeper and extended my arches and tails a little more. I was very pleased with the results. Natalie is an absolute artist at what she does and, of course, it’s not just the beauty-conscious who benefit from microblading. While I love waking up with beautiful, natural-looking brows, it’s a fantastic treatment for those who have lost their brows due to health conditions or chemotherapy – helping to restore a little confidence. Of course, because it’s semi-permanent, after 12 to 18 months it’s possible to revisit and adjust the shape, style and colour rather than being stuck with the same design for ever. Microblading at CCC costs £395 and includes a free touch-up four to six weeks after your first treatment. The below images are taken without any make-up on my brows!