When it was announced that face masks would become mandatory on public transport, then later, in enclosed public places, sales of eye and brow make-up soared. In new research by The NPD Group, it found that sales of eyebrow products were up 78 per cent in lockdown. A great lipstick is only a hindrance (and a messy one at that) under a mask, so instead, beauty looks became centred around the eyes.
Granted, unknowingly, I’d already taken steps to ensure my ‘mask make-up’ regime was ready to go: I had my eyebrows microbladed two days before lockdown began in March.
Technically there wasn’t much wrong with my eyebrows beforehand: they weren’t as fluffy and defined as I’d have liked, and had quite a few gaps, but I was tired of having them threaded and tinted every two weeks (at £20 a pop) to maintain a shape I barely liked. I wanted a long-term solution to my sparse look, and that’s when I came across Zuzu Brows.
She came highly recommended by a friend who had seen her a few months prior for microblading; the semi-permanent tattoo-like process where tiny needles are used to deposit pigment into your brows, creating a fuller, more defined look. I honestly wasn’t convinced until I saw said friend in person: her eyebrows looked completely natural and her whole face appeared to have been lifted.
I emailed Zuzu that same evening and was booked in for a few weeks later: she was in high demand, but nothing compared to now - she now gets many direct messages a day on Instagram regarding consultations, and is fully booked for the next few weeks, despite having only just reopened.
Zuzu works out of a chic boutique salon in Central London, and she and her colleagues all wear full PPE. It’s worth noting that this was prior to lockdown, and much uproar has rightly been made regarding the fact that beauticians haven’t been able to return to work, despite having worn full PPE long before Covid-19 came about. After a long five months in lockdown, face treatments - including microblading - are back as of Saturday August 15.
I was full of excitement as I sat up on the massage table as Zuzu sketched my new, fuller eyebrows, asking me to assess them once she’d nailed the shape. I loved them, and as I lay on the massage table waiting for the numbing cream to kick in, I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to have the treatment done.
The cream meant I couldn’t feel a thing, and Zuzu worked quickly and precisely with her handheld tool. We had settled on microblading, rather than both microblading and micro-ombré which uses a shading technique to fill in the brows. As mine were already quite full, I didn't need this, so she recommended I have fine 'hairs' added around the brow to make the shape neater, and throughout it to fill in any gaps.
After strictly following her guidance (applying her exclusive eyebrow balm every few hours, and not getting them wet for 10 days), they settled in nicely, and didn’t give me any bother.
After six weeks, a top up is commonplace, and would see her fill in any sections that the pigment didn’t fully take to, but of course, that was mid-May - when the UK was at the height of lockdown, so I had to sit tight.
‘So many people have been eager to book in during lockdown,’ admits Zuzu when we speak about slotting me into her packed diary for my long-awaited top up now that she’s reopening. Once your treatment is complete, your brows gradually get darker over the following few days, before lightening up to their true shade. It means lockdown (when no one need see your too-dark brows) was ideal time to for recover from microblading.
Krissy's before and after
Like many others in her profession, Zuzu’s been desperate to get back to her clients. Microblading with her costs from £420: the results last up to two years and the treatment means you can forgo all eyebrow make-up: ideal on any given day, but I’ve found it particularly beneficial during heatwave bouts and when running out of the door in a mask to dash to the supermarket.
I’ve since had colleagues and friends comment on my brows on Zoom calls, and have had strangers compliment me while wearing a mask while out and about, noting I must feel smug about having had the treatment done 48 hours before beauty salons were closed for months.
Now that the rest of the beauty sector is finally allowed to reopen, I’ve no doubt Zuzu and many other microbladers will be inundated with requests for ‘mask make-up’ brows. I can't recommend it enough.