Perhaps you’ve noticed all the bushy eyebrows on TikTok, brushed up to resemble fuzzy caterpillars, and wondered: How?
There are a few possible explanations: They may be amplified by makeup. The creator could be blessed with naturally thick brows. Or you might be looking at a pair of freshly laminated eyebrows.
Eyebrow lamination — a perm for those wanting their brows to appear fuller, thicker and maybe a little unkempt — is one of the latest semi-permanent beauty trends (think microblading, or tattooing on eyebrows). During the pandemic, some aestheticians saw the number of clients requesting laminations increase substantially, even though the trend has been around for a few years now.
“I think that we’re all coming out of the thin-eyebrow phase, and so many people want to fix their brows from their over-plucked stages from the past,” said Jasmine Winsett, an aesthetician in Boise, Idaho, who charges $55 for her lamination service. She said she has done more than 500 eyebrow laminations since she began offering them in 2020.
Ms. Winsett credits social media for the increase in popularity. The hashtag #browlamintion has been added to around 1.4 million posts on Instagram and has been used in more than 365 million posts on TikTok.
After watching Madison Beer, a singer and influencer, sculpt her eyebrows to fluffy perfection in a makeup tutorial online, Ashley Gross, 26, wanted to try it. Ms. Gross, who works in social media, began a Google search for cosmetic products that would help her brows reach these new desired heights, but she instead stumbled upon the process of eyebrow lamination.
“I had never heard of that before,” Ms. Gross said. “I started Instagram searching it to see how it looked on normal people who aren’t models.”
It might seem like an easy solution, but keeping one’s brows teetering between looking messy and precisely styled takes effort. First, anyone looking to laminate their brows has to grow them out, ideally for four to six weeks. Then, at a salon, an aesthetician cleans them with a degreasing solution, and a perming gel is applied to break down the existing bonds in the hair. After that, the brows are brushed and set with a neutralizing gel, with the end result being fuller-looking eyebrows.
The bushy-brow craze seemed to start online with a trend known as “soap brows”: Bar soap is applied to the eyebrows with an eyebrow brush to keep the hairs sculpted up and in place.
“I saw it all over TikTok,” said Ms. Gross, who has had three eyebrow laminations since her first in April. “Lamination gives you the same look. You just wake up looking like that.” She added, “The pandemic really made me super lazy, so I definitely see myself doing it for the foreseeable future.”
Leigh Blackwell, the director of the London Brow Company, which specializes in lamination products, said that the pandemic, aided by social media, changed people’s beauty routines.
“Rather than being as tailored and perfect as a makeup look would be, we realized we can do less and still look OK or decent for our meetings and our Zooms,” said Ms. Blackwell.
Her company, which began selling lamination products in late 2019, said that its products have been used in about 800,000 laminations to date.
Ms. Blackwell emphasized the importance, though, of getting your brows professionally laminated. As is the case with many procedures that begin in a salon, the impulse to D.I.Y. can have serious consequences.
“It’s a chemical, it could degrade the hair to a point where you won’t be able to recover that hair,” she said when discussing at-home lamination kits. “That is worst case scenario if somebody is using it how they shouldn’t be.”
But for many clients, like Ms. Gross and Victoria Palma, 23, who began getting her eyebrows permed in October of last year, lamination became a way to maintain a simple, confidence-boosting beauty routine while spending a lot of at home in 2020.
“We were in quarantine. I was like, ‘Well I’m at home, but I still want to like feel good about myself,’” Ms. Palma said. Once laminated, “you didn’t have to do anything really ever to make your brows look good.”