I have the kind of face that doesn’t really have any stand-out features. I’m not being a self deprecating Brit here, it’s just that nothing is particularly exemplary, showy or oversized. Being naturally fair my brows have always been non-descript, a bit sparse, and with no definite shape to them. My mum has never touched her eyebrows (she doesn’t pluck or wear make up) so I didn’t grow up with her process of grooming as a guide to follow. My friends were either dark haired with beautiful full brows, or severely over-plucked (some of them balded themselves entirely), so I never felt I could turn to them for inspiration either. So for fear of completely messing it up, I’ve largely neglected them. There were a few times in school, you know when you just want to do what everyone else is doing, that I did dare to make some changes to my wild uni brow. Unfortunately I just used the disposable bic in my parents bedroom to try and remove the fluff that sprouts in-between the brows, and a few whisps that cluttered up where the arch WOULD’ve been. After one mishap with this method you don’t do it again, trust me.
My pre-HD brows
I’ve only had my brows professionally tamed once before, at a well known pink hued high-street beauty destination, known for this kind of treatment. I was thrilled when I finally had dramatic brows that brought structure to my potato-like of a face. I felt like it provided a better showcase for my eyes, and made the process making up my face a more enjoyable and satisfying experience – the end result always looked more polished. The only down side of the results was that I suffered from a breakout above the brow, which took just under a week to completely clear. My skin wasn’t used to waxing or plucking, and perhaps the opened follicles filled with the make up I applied to mask the initial redness – I had a posh dinner date straight after the treatment.
For this reason I was a little bit nervous about the idea of reviewing another brow service when the opportunity landed in my inbox last week. Particularly as my job requires me to always be ‘camera ready’ to some extent. I know all to well how breakouts effect my confidence and make me feel more anxious about filming my YouTube videos. However, I’d heard such great things about HD Brows and Karen Betts, I thought that even if the same reaction was the occur , it would be worth it for how fantastic my brows would look after time spent with one of their experts.
Whenever I accept a review opportunity, or embark on any sort of beauty treatment, I make a point of checking out previous results, reading testimonials, and having a thorough read of their website and external reviews. I was incredibly impressed by the before and afters, I couldn’t believe how much they had transformed brows, yet made it look completely natural, and in some cases incredibly subtle. Seeing the very different styles of brows (some which I would never choose myself) also reinforced how important it is to help the stylist create a brow that’s right for you, your face, it’s colouring, and whatever you aesthetic is. So I gave some thought towards what I was looking from on this occasion and what information I would give in the consultation before.
Last time, the dye they was applied my brows was a fairly dark brown. Being a natural blonde, the strands need a bit of a colour boost or they can appear so light they’re almost unnoticeable. Where mine sit on the brow bone means they are often half hidden my sunglasses too.
This meant that once the make up was applied to fill in the sparse areas, the overall look was quite a dark impactful brow. It took a day or two to get completely used to my look, but I really enjoyed my face having a bit more oomph in the end.
A couple years on from then, aside from the odd occasion when I’m embrace my goth/grunge side, I am tending to go for a more natural make up look. As I get older I realise the less is more approach really does keep you looking fresher and more youthful. My attempt to mask all my signs of ageing, was just enhancing and drawing attention to them. By layering up products I was actually creating a caking effect which added depth to my creases and the enlarged pores. The careful, more measured approach, incorporating more glow giving products, injected a bit more life into my increasingly weathered face. So for this appointment with HD Brows at Karen Betts, I decided I’d go for a very natural brow, which was more about enhancing what I have, and making it look merely as nature would have intended for me (if my inherited hair genes hadn’t got in the way of given me the ideal brows).
I have to say that its corner position on Harley street, and it’s number 1 address, instills you with even more confidence that you are visiting the best. On the third floor, it’s a beautiful bright white haven for beautifying. I felt like my mere presence probably tainted it’s pristine gloriousness, but I felt so welcomed I didn’t let that worry me.
Jamie, a top HD BROW stylist, was down for the day to help me achieve my dream brow. One of those guys thats that is so ridiculously handsome, it’s a hard not to study their face. Thankfully he was so nice he stopped me from feeling too awkward about being in his presence. I made sure to have a good look at his brows while studying his face, because I don’t know about you, it always makes me nervous when I book in with a hairdresser who has an awful haircut. His were full, and perfectly shaped without being too manipulated. Perfect.
After filling in a form where I could indicate any allergies, or health conditions that might effect whether the treatment was suitable, I told Jamie about my last post-treatment breakout experience. I’d completed the patch text 48 hrs prior to my visit (they send you an very user friendly transfer tattoo method of testing) and it was fine, so he wondered whether it was because they chose to wax large areas at a time which can sometimes graze the skin, and/or perhaps because they put make up on top of opened pores.
Jamie wanted to understand what I was looking to achieve so I explained, in as tactful a way as possible, that I wasn’t looking for that super fake, dense, slug-like appearance. I wanted to see the hair strands, and for the colour to be in tune with what I’d be given naturally, perhaps just a tad intensified. My brows are naturally quite straight, so we decided we’d try and give them a slight arch if possible too.
First up he applied a custom dye to my brows. When I saw the colour in the screen of my blogging camera I was a bit shocked – there was no other way of looking at it, it was GREY. I trusted him though, and I was to as it would eventually it would become a very natural ash brown colour (perfectly in tune with my current tone). We spoke about how these ashy tones work better, because a warm toned brown tends to look unnatural for many, and can almost just look like fake tan has got stuck in the brow hair. Next up for arguably the most daunting bit – the wax. He removed hair from such small sections at a time it was completely fine pain-wise. My eyes didn’t even water. The speed and efficiency in which he did this confirmed that I really was in the skilfull hands of one of the best.
Threading was the next part of the process, just to remove all that soft fluffy (almost invisble) hair that surround the brow area. This was my first experience of threading, so I was exciting and scared in equal measure. Some friends have said it smarts a bit so I was intrigued to see how I’d get on.
‘In threading, a thin (cotton or polyester) thread is doubled, then twisted. It is then rolled over areas of unwanted hair, plucking the hair at the follicle level. Unlike tweezing, where single hairs are pulled out one at a time, threading can remove short rows of hair.
Advantages cited for eyebrow threading, as opposed to eyebrow waxing, are that it provides more precise control in shaping eyebrows and is gentler on the skin. It can be painful as several hairs are removed at once: however this can be minimized if it is done correctly.’
I am relieved to say it was a totally manageable level of discomfort, discomfort isn’t even really fitting from my experience. Jamie did point out that it is obviously a bit more painful if you are using the technique to remove thick or wiry hair instead of my downy ones though. I’m really chuffedd to tick this off my beauty checklist though, I’ve always thought it an incredibly impressive technique for people able to master, plus it’s incredibly cool thing to observe.
Finally, my least favourite part of the process – plucking. This is exactly why my brows have been untouched for best part of three decades. Without fail I will always end up sneezing, which is not ideal when you are carrying out a task that requires precision. Streaming eyes always occur too. Thankfully after his perfectly executed waxing, and the cleaning up via the threading, there were very few remaining rogue hairs to extract.
Before I got to see the results of this 30/40 minute process, Jamie completed the process using a number of HD cosmetics. Using the Browtec product ( was named in Vogue as one of the 10 best eyebrow pencils of 2016) he could add the illusion of extra strands of hair in the sparse areas of my brows, and lengthen the tail which stop slightly short of ideal. He then used a spoolie brush on the end to brush off any excess product and ensure everything looked as natural as possible.
It was time to see the finished results , and Jamie handed me a mirror. Aside from initial reddening around the areas which is to be expected, I was incredibly pleased with what was being reflected back at me. These were the brows I’d always wanted. The best thing though, they looked like my brows, not like someone else’s super imposed on my face or attached like a Mrs Potato-head toy. I was so impressed with how he’d managed to find a balance of giving my brows more impact and definition, yet keeping them looking completely effortless and natural. The brows weren’t wearing me or taking over the canvas, they just finished the jigsaw of my face perfectly.
As we all have different issues regarding our brows (some have too much brow, some have suffered years of over-plucking, other’s have too light a hair shade etc) I should mention that if there isn’t enough hair to create your perfect arch just yet – they’ll put you on a regrowth programme, and work with you till you reach the point of achieving your goal brow.
Living with my parents, my clothes, and make up get critiqued daily, whether I like it or not, and today was no exception. I had arrived home while my parents were out, and I overhead my parents chatting when they came in thee supermarket, not realising I was upstairs and home from the appointment. Dad was voicing his concern to my mum that I’d come back looking like I had scary painted on brows. When I went down and made it known I was back, I was relieved not to be greeted with any brutality when it came to their reactions. He though they were fantastic, and was marvelling at how well Jamie had created the look of strands. Jamie if you’re reading this, compliments don’t come thick and fast from this Virgo Dad, so you should feel pretty honoured.
Although my naked brows were now in the best form of their life, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to maintain quite the elevated status that Jamies had achieved when it was my job to do the make up part of the process myself. I have been happily surprised that the lack of downy hair surrounding the brow, the more visible guideline thanks to the dying, and the general neatening has made it much much easier for a make up novice like try and replicate his artistry. His tip to add a highlighter type product underneath the arch with a squared brush has also been a game changer in making them pop. I did suffer three spots above my brow but they were very small and faded fast, so the treatment was apparently a lot kinder on my face this time.
From the girl that only manages to schedule in 2 haircuts in a year I doubt I will end up getting this done every 6 weeks as recommended, but my goodness if it was possible for me, this is one treatment I definitely wish could be a regular thing for me. Not only did I love the time spent having the treatment, I love the results and how it’s impacted the enjoyment level of doing my make up each morning. It’s no wonder this is the UK’s number 1 Salon Brow treatment, it’s the perfect choice for those that want great brows without the permanence of micro-blading and tattooing. It’s always a great way of enforcing an hour of YOU time every month and half, which is something we all deserve and need.