What Is Brow Lamination? Your Expert-Approved Guide to the Popular Service

Photo: Getty Images / svetikd

These days, there are plenty of things you can do to transform your naturally sparse eyebrows into big, bold ones. We've got at-home pencils, powder, gel products, and pro-grade treatments like microblading and tints to help take things to the next level. But if you're looking to achieve the bushy brow look that's been all over social media (and seems to be going nowhere), there's no better way to do it than with eyebrow lamination.

Ahead, we spoke to brow experts Autumn Estelle, a national brow and beauty artist with Benefit Cosmetics, Joey Healy, a New York City-based celebrity eyebrow artist, and Josh Beeler, a lash and brow specialist at Shen Beauty, about everything you need to know about brow lamination, from what to expect during the service to how to care for your brows afterward. 

Experts In This Article
  • Autumn Estelle, a national brow and beauty artist with Benefit Cosmetics
  • Joey Healy, celebrity eyebrow artist based in New York City and the founder of the Joey Healy Eyebrow Collection
  • Josh Beeler, a lash and brow specialist at Shen Beauty

What is eyebrow lamination?

Often referred to as a brow lift, brow lamination makes your brows look fuller and flatter by perming the brow hairs. "It's a professional service that relaxes and straightens the brow hairs so they can be easily repositioned into a full, lifted shape," Estelle explains. "Because brow lamination removes the natural bend or curve of the hair, the hairs can be easily repositioned and fanned out, which helps give the appearance of fullness."

What are the benefits of brow lamination?

By straightening and lifting the hair, brow lamination will make your arches appear fuller and take up more space on the face. "Basically, it's redirecting the hair in the way and shape you want it to go," Beeler explains. "A lot of the time, we use it to redirect the brows to make them appear thicker and fuller or flat."

Who is the best candidate for eyebrow lamination?

Anyone can get brow lamination. "Brow lamination is ideal for nearly all types of brows, from those with fine, thin hair to thicker hair—it creates the illusion of full and fluffy brows and gives the face a natural lifted effect," says Estelle. "Once you laminate your brows, the results last up to eight weeks, so if you like to be low maintenance with your brows, then brow lamination is perfect for your daily routine."

Is brow lamination safe?

Generally speaking, this treatment is safe when conducted by a professional (with that said, pros advise against trying it at home). However, there are a few things to be aware of before you try it out for yourself. "Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, some people may experience some redness, swelling, or itching after getting a brow lamination," says Estelle. With that in mind, she notes that it's important to conduct a patch test before your appointment to ensure your skin isn't too sensitive to treat. The process should be completely painless overall, and the patch test can help rule out any potential irritation.

Healy also cautions against doing it too frequently, as the chemicals used in the laminating process can lead to breakage in your brows. "You wouldn't bleach your hair every few weeks—if you did, your hair would be severely damaged—and the same with the brows," he says. "If you have thicker hair, it can probably tolerate a lot more lamination more frequently, but if your hair is finer, it really can't. So, I don't think you want to roll the dice there."

And, of course, there's always the risk that you won't like the final results. "A lot of times I find that there's a sweet spot three or four weeks after the treatment, but in the beginning, a lot of people are kind of horrified because their brows look weird," says Healy, who notes that laminated brows can look unnaturally shiny in the first few weeks you've got them. "If you don't like brow powder or brow pencil, you can just take it off, but it's not like that with lamination."

What is the difference between eyebrow lamination and other brow treatments?

While other brow treatments change your brows by adding pigment (brow tints, for example, dye the hair, while microblading adds pigment to the skin surrounding the arch), brow lamination focuses on the texture of your brow hair.

Microblading vs lamination

These two treatments couldn't be more different. Microblading is a semi-permanent form of cosmetic tattooing, which uses a blade-shaped tool to draw on hairs and give the brows a fuller appearance. "Microblading uses a tool to deposit pigment into the skin behind the brow, mimicking the look of hair where lamination changes the texture of your existing hairs by flattening them," says Healy. While lamination only lasts a few weeks, microblading can last a year or more but won't make your brows look any more "fluffy" than they already are.

Brow tinting vs. lamination

"Brow tinting is a great way to define and, in some cases, thicken the look of your brows," says Estelle. She explains that many people have fine hairs throughout their brows that don't have as much pigment as the thicker hairs, and adding a tint will make those hairs more pronounced to give the overall eyebrow a fuller look. 

"Unlike brow lamination, brow tinting does not perm your brow hairs for that fluffy brow look," says Estelle. "However, brow tinting can be done after lamination to create a fluffy, thicker looking brow."

What is the eyebrow lamination process like?

A professional brow lamination treatment involves a repeated process of soaking the brows with a white chemical gel that looks and smells similar to hair gel. The solution is combed through the brows until they are in their desired shape, then covered with a piece of tape for six minutes to allow the chemicals to soak in fully. This process may be repeated multiple times over a 30—to 40-minute period.

Brow laminating steps

1. Consultation: Any brow lamination appointment will begin with a consultation, during which you and your brow artist will discuss what you want your brows to look like so that there are no surprises at the end of the treatment.

2. Relaxer: After cleansing your brow area of any dirt and debris, your brow artist will brush a relaxer cream (which typically contains chemicals like thioglycolic acid or ammonium thioglycolate, which you may recognize from perms made for your hair) through your brows, using a spoolie to shape them as they go. Then, they'll cover them with tape, allowing the relaxer to work to its peak potential. This step may need to be repeated multiple times or done just once, depending on your natural brow texture and desired results.

3. Neutralization: Once the brows are relaxed, the artist will apply a "setting" cream to neutralize the first solution and rebuild the keratin bonds in your brow hairs into their new shape. Again, this will be brushed in with a spoolie and left on for a few minutes.

4. Further shaping: Now that the new shape is set, your brow artist may trim and tweeze rogue hairs to perfect the look.

4. Hydration: The final step of the process involves applying a hydrating essence and brow conditioner, which will help combat some of the strand-damaging effects of the chemicals used.

Brow lamination aftercare

The most important part of the brow lamination aftercare process happens within the first 24 hours after your appointment. For that first day, you'll want to avoid getting your brows wet—no sweaty workouts, washing your face, showering, or doing anything that could disrupt the setting of your eyebrow hairs. Beyond that, the rest is pretty simple. "It comes with minimal at-home maintenance," says Estelle.

"Since your hair has been chemically treated, we encourage clients to use a conditioning oil on their brow hairs each night in conjunction with their nightly skincare routine to keep them healthy and hydrated." She recommends Benefit Cosmetics' Woah So Soft Conditioning Brow Oil ($22), which contains argan oil, castor oil, and fatty acids that condition your brows.

How much does eyebrow lamination cost?

The price of this service varies depending on your salon and where you're located, but it can generally run from around $90 to up to $200.

Is lamination good for your eyebrows?

While the treatment may be good for how your eyebrows look, it can cause dryness and breakage in the strands. "The texture afterward is very bizarre—they're kind of squeaky and dry and desperate for hydration," says Healy. Like Estelle, he recommends using a conditioning oil on the brows and regularly sells the Brow Renovation Serum ($125) from his namesake line to clients looking to care for laminated brows.

Should you laminate your eyebrows at home?

Though there are plenty of at-home eyebrow lamination kits you can buy online, given that this treatment involves precise application and pretty intense chemicals, it's best left to the professionals. If you're looking for a quick fix you can get without leaving your bathroom, though, try one of these brow gels that will temporarily mimic the results of lamination until the next time you wash your face.

Final takeaway

If you're looking for fluffier brows—or a lower maintenance brow routine—eyebrow lamination will give you a lot of lift and fullness with very little work. On the off chance that you aren't too jazzed about the results, they'll be gone pretty quickly since the results last close to eight weeks (just maybe don't try it out for the first time right before your wedding or something, just in case). And if it all works out? Just think of all the money you'll save on brow gel.

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