Since the age of four I've had a significant scar in my left brow. I’m told that I ran into a coffee table and I believe I was given stitches by someone who started their career in medicine that day. As an adult, despite the fact that I have the tools to fill in the spot I rarely take the time.
I do however love a good brow and while studying waxing at George Brown College, I took an interest in the person my instructor spoke so highly of, Yael Malkin, owner of Brows by Yael.
After hours of inspecting her work, the captions under photos, customer reviews, her business website and her phone etiquette I decided:
“I trust this woman”
The studio itself is incredibly clean, welcoming and calm which is great because I was a nervous wreck. This experience had me realize how attached I am to (what I consider) one of my strongest physical attributes… my face. I had a similar meltdown when I had to get glasses. After deciding they did not suit the personal aesthetic I'd spent 23 years designing... I threw them into traffic because they offended me so deeply. I had worn them once. They survived the walk from the optic store to my car, but did not make it home. Back to the present! It occurs to me while on route to this appointment… What if Yaels opinion of what looks good is different than my own? What if everyone except for me, thinks I look great and I hate it? What if I tell Yael "I hate this" and she tells me to go fuck myself. What then? What if my boyfriend hates it? What if he sees me and thinks: “That's not who I fell in love with!"
I’ve known him since I was fourteen. He can't remember how I spell my name but he definitely has my face memorized... now it will be altered. I can hear the jokes now... if he finds this funny. Melanie Griffith was reportedly left by her husband for fucking with her face... will that be me?! I realize I never discussed any of this with him. I've never discussed these things with anyone. Why would I? I’d been single for a while before reconnecting with him I shake my head, disappointed in myself for investing too much in the opinions of others… the uber driver likely thinks he’s picked up a nut…but wait what about the actors. What if going forward they sit in my chair and think: "Look at those brows can this woman be trusted?" What if that happens?! Will my job be even harder? Yes it will. You’re not supposed to sweat after this service and I am already! Profusely. I start to think I should get bangs. I consider calling my stylist to ask how soon I can get in if this goes badly. I decide no. I have savings if this goes wrong. I will have it reversed. And I will never touch my face again. My family will not be impressed unless this is too subtle to notice or too good to look away. I am the black sheep. Self-obsessed, emotional and weird. This I’ve always known. No one will take pity or understand my vanity especially if I tell them what this service costs. I decide this is even more reason why I should go ahead with the appointment, to revel in my weirdness. The women that work there (many tattooed) are funny, happy and kind. No one is fake or robotic. Their eyes match their smiles and they’ve got good eyebrows. They seem to genuinely respect one another, there is no catty vibe inside this place. The lighting is far less clinical than I imagined with a window bench covered in plush, cream coloured pillows and beautiful candles flickering in dark glasses.
At this point, I’m confident I won’t be getting AIDS or Groucho Marx eyebrows from this place. I’m not going to die or be disowned.
There is a client already being processed by a different artist. She looks relaxed and there’s no blood anywhere. No one is screaming…yet. I pray it won't be me.
You can’t drink coffee or alcohol before a microblading service. Thankfully I was warned well in advance. I’m not drunk but I wish I was. I took a Tylenol (which is allowed) because I’m in caffeine withdrawal. I was up at 9 am it’s now 6pm and I’ve got a migraine that makes me want to vom.
She is gorgeous. A blonde amazon, not conceited but truly sure of her abilities. Friendly, funny, knowledgeable and incredibly busy (she’s booked 2-3 months in advance). There are no fake smiles or affected behaviour. You know instantly, Yael is not someone to mess with but she also won’t mess with your face and really that’s all that matters.
Yael explains that this will be mapped out on my face and then in order to deposit the ink, she must break the skin.
Having your eyebrows microbladed is no normal day at the spa.
Some time has passed since I had my brows microbladed but what stands out in my memory most is the scent (lavender) and seeing the final results.
My instructor Lucy (leader of the Esthetics department at George Brown College) mentioned wishing that she had worn earbuds to drown out the sound of the blade against her skin (which is comparable to a scratching).
The sound didn’t bother me at all.
There were areas of my brow that hurt more than others, specifically the inner corner on the left side brow (not where my scar was).
At times I felt as though I needed to sneeze. Yael was familiar with this and suggested I apply pressure under my nose to help relieve the urge.
I took this as an opportunity to hold my own head down and resist any chance of my flinching or pulling away. I swore (before arriving) to let this woman do her job and not complain too much. I was determined not to be a handful. I feel I was successful at that.
At no time did Yael ever say anything like:
“Here it comes”
“Are you ready”
That would have scared the shit out of me. She did ask if I was ok and that was appreciated. During the initial service it seemed I was a bleeder but at no point did I feel scared and during the touch-up I barely bled at all.
Once Yael had finished sketching a sort of map on my face she showed me a mirror to see if we were on the same page. She slightly overdrew the apperance of where my left brow sits (because it's lower than my right). By doing this she created the illusion that they are more balanced but not so much so that they'd look artificial. My initial thought when looking at the outline was that they were too big and too close together but I decided to go for it and trust her.
If this blog has taught me anything it's that I've got OCD and control issues. So I "practiced trust" as they say...and I love them. I felt surprisingly reassured by how chill Yael is.
I’m usually made anxious by someone who is relaxed (especially at work) but “being chill” does not mean lax when it comes to infection control or efficiency.
Those of you who read and follow me closely know how serious I take infection control. Yael changed her gloves multiple times which only added to my adoration of her.
Few people take an interest in sterilization until they lose a toe and have herpes.
Lucky for me Yael keeps it as clean as she does real.
She is as speedy as she is precise.
This is a service that requires an artist who can read people. It's not about trends it's about precision and artistry. It's about what suits each individual best. These brows make me look younger, more defined and polished. They enhance what's already there. They're not a huge crazy ass statement. That's not my vibe. I didn’t experience a gross amount of flaking as my brows healed but they were itchy. A salve is provided to help ease the itch and it worked almost instantly.
Cut to the ten days in which you cannot shower.
It is essential that your face stays as dry as possible.
This means no cleansers, no makeup and no sweating.
The hair on my head was the major issue.
While in the city I had my pick of salons to help shampoo and blow dry my hair but when I got home to North Bay I couldn’t manage alone.
I asked Joe to help. Joe is my boyfriend.
He wasn’t thrilled but he was willing to skillfully dispense water from a milk kraft, over my head. Never have I felt more vulnerable than when I sat naked in his waterless tub, towel over my face, my head arched as far back as humanly possible. Praying that my brows wouldn’t be washed away if Joe got distracted by my parts, mid pour.
Below are daily updates of my brows, as they have healed.
Approximately 6 weeks later I went in for my touch up.
Yael and the women who work with her were just as cool
as day one. My brows have healed nicely and the few brush strokes Yael added didn’t hurt at all.