Phi Brows at Empower by Aisling | Review
Phi Brows are not new – at least, not any more. In terms of trend bandwagoning, this is one rare occasion when I can honestly claim not to have followed the crowd, or, rather, to have bided my time. Although, I guess that's not entirely true...
This is not my first foray into Phi Brows
I first had the treatment done a couple of years back – I'd read about eyebrow microblading as the next big thing in brows (remember when we didn't care about our eyebrows? Those were innocent times) and wanted to experience it for myself. I chose Phi Brows over regular microblading (like Bikram, "Phi" is a recognised term, taught only be Masters in Phi Brows; microblading is to Phi Brows as hot yoga is to Bikram) for no other reason than that a friend, who had recently got their accreditation, offered to perform the treatment for me.
To be honest, I wasn't that thrilled with it at the time – the shape wasn't what I had envisioned and the colour seemed a little too dark for me, so I didn't return for my top-up (more on which later) and didn't really speak about it; I didn't want to slate them, as they were just starting out, and, like bad reviews of restaurants' opening nights, I don't feel like it's especially fair to give a bad review of a beginner.
So what happens with Phi Brows?
You can read all about the method on the official website – and I'm sure they'll give you more technical terms for what I'm about to describe but, as I experienced it, the technique begins with a long, laborious measuring out of your eyebrow area. Honestly, this took over an hour – the face is measured, the brows are measured, symmetry is checked, and these steps seem to be repeated 10 million times.
Once you're happy with the shape – I had mine done by Aisling Redden at Empower by Aisling, and I was up and down, checking the mirror umpteen times to make sure I was satisfied – a teeny tiny blade is used to cut small hair strokes into your brow area. Pigment is then applied on to the hair strokes. And reader, it hurts.
Here I am, glassy-eyed and covered in pigment.
I'm not quite sure how to explain it, but I guess you should know that I didn't cry – and I'm a crier. There's something very different about pain you are willingly entering into (like laser tattoo removal, I guess – an update on which is coming, I promise) that, for me at least, means I tend not to cry. However, that's not to say this wasn't painful enough to elicit tears – it feels as if someone is cutting into your skin and then, somehow unzipping that cut. You can hear it, too, this gentle tearing of your skin – it's vile.
That being said, it's quick. After the initial hair strokes are made, an anaesthetic cream is applied, and the second "pass" of the blade is painless. From the first cut to the last, you're probably talking about 20 minutes, 10 of which is spent blissfully numb (in the eyebrow area, anyway). Then you're done.
Directly afterwards, taking dodgy close-ups in the car.
Well, kind of. The aftercare process is fairly involved – I've to clean my brows three times a day with clean, boiled water. Five times a day I have to apply Bepanthen, essentially to keep the area moisturised. The less you allow your Phi Brows to dry out, the better result you'll get – basically, if you allow them to dry out, the cuts will scab and flake off, and take with them the pigment that, ideally, you want to leave in your skin. (Again, warning: this is not the technical definition, just what I gleaned and what I feel is perhaps the most easy-to-understand explanation.)
Two days later, covered in Bepanthen.
During the first four weeks, depending on your own skin type; the frequency with which your skin cells regenerate; the depth of the hair strokes and the adherence of the pigment, your Phi Brows will fade – so you go back, four weeks later, for a top-up (at which point I will update this review with my final brows).
The Phi Brows treatment costs €520 with Empower by Aisling, but for summer 2018, she's doing a special offer of €399 per treatment. (Disclaimer: she's a friend of mine and asked me to pop in to have mine done, so I didn't pay. I took her for lunch, which felt like a paltry exchange.)
The treatment lasts between 12 and 18 months – a friend of mine had her Phi Brows done with Aisling a year ago and, I quote, "I haven't had to fill them in for a year", so that claim is verified, at least, by my anonymous friend.
Though the treatment itself isn't pain-free, I haven't felt any pain since having them done – again, I'll update this if I wake up on day seven in eyebrow agony!
In terms of prep, there's not a huge amount you have to do bar avoid glycolic and retinol serums, creams and treatments for a fortnight before your Phi Brows treatment. But you will need a patch test, at least 48 hours before your Phi Brows treatment – so bear that in mind.
If you have any questions at all about Phi Brows, drop them below and I'll either ask Aisling to give the professional assessment, or I'll tell you about how I experienced it, using analogies and small words!
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