Unlike the growing conversations about embracing our skin – acne and all – we have fallen short of normalising hair ‘taboos’. One of the most pressing concerns is the thinning hairline, predominantly thought of to be a ‘male-oriented issue’, but actually one that everyone can face. According to Google Trends, searches for “female receding hairline” grew 400% in the last five years. Aside from topical treatments and the intimidating prospect of a hair transplant, there are other options. Rachel*, a 20-something professional in London shares her experience with scalp microblading.
There’s a difference between premature hair fall and hair loss. The first is caused through breakage, often due to damaged hair, thanks to excessive styling, physical friction and environmental factors. The latter is influenced by age, stress, hormonal changes and nutrition. When I first heard of microblading to restore a thinning hairline it was one of those lightbulb moments, “why didn’t I think of this earlier?”. For those of you that are unfamiliar with it, it’s a form of semi-permanent makeup has been around for the last two decades. You may be thinking of those caterpillar-like tattoos on the faces of Asian aunties but in the last few years, technique has (thankfully) evolved. My introduction to the K-beauty trend was for defined and manicured brows that eliminates the need for ten minutes of brow pencil in the morning. And like many who have tried it, I was sold.
It begins with numbing cream, followed by fine strokes drawn directly onto the skin for guidance. Then the semi-permanent makeup artist (SPMU) deposits pigment in incredibly fine lines, using a series of tiny blades. The strokes are drawn in the direction of hair growth, making the desired areas appear thicker, as it mimics the appearance of strands. It can also balance out asymmetry of the hair line and no, it doesn’t hurt – that much. Thanks to the 45 minutes of topical anaesthetic. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to do, especially in comparison to brows where a lot of time is taken to ensure symmetry. As for the the delightful ‘scabbing’ process that follows, the good news is there was a lot less of that when it came to the hairline. I was told that this is because the skin texture on the scalp is different and furthermore, retention of pigment is usually better here too.
As I approached my late 20’s, I started becoming self-conscious about my thinning hairline. While others may not have noticed, to me it seemed at least 10 years premature. Trying to find a microblading or micropigmentation expert (I didn’t go to Sian Dellar but one of our team did and loved the results!) isn’t as easy as a Google search of my local beauticians. Prices online range wildly too, so it’s hard to know if you’re getting a good deal. My recommendation to find someone trustworthy is to look at past examples of work: look for crisp lines and colour that’s retained its integrity. Ink should only hit the first layer of our skin, the epidermis. The deeper it goes (like a traditional tattoo), the higher the risk that pigment blurs and compromises the original ink colour. Cue that bluish-green disaster we all want to avoid!
ONE MONTH LATER
When it came to aftercare, I was told to not wash my hair for the first three days to avoid the possibility of infections. In reality, I didn’t touch it for ten days as the longer you can leave it without it getting really gross – the better. Like many, my working from home situation made this the perfect opportunity. Would I do it again? I still love the results a month on and think it even helped to make my face appear slimmer. Out of all the ‘aesthetic’ treatments I’ve done, this is definitely my favourite.
Is it right for you?
Aside from a fear of needles as a deterrent, it’s good to know that people with larger pores and oilier skin types could require more sessions to retain pigment. Sebum pushes the pigment out from the skin, resulting in a faster fade.
Two months in and I am due for my second touch up. Admittedly, I’ve been dragging my feet about it, since I’m no longer working from home and don’t love the prospect of daily commutes with micro-wounds on my head. What I love about this alternative to the endless potions on the market aimed at restoring hair growth, is that this made a huge and immediate difference to my appearance. Visually, the lines blend in so well, even when I wear my hair scraped up in a ponytail. And no, no one has ever noticed that they’re not actual follicles.
Hero image shot by @alisejane_photo