When beauty salons closed in March, those of us who religiously booked in for brow threading, waxing or tinting treatments had to forgo the luxury. Of course, there are bigger things to worry about during a global pandemic than stray hairs and stubbly bits. But there's no denying that brand-new feeling after a brow refresh.
When salons reopened in June, those of us who hadn't learned how to thread, wax and tint at home were excited about the prospect of tending to our brows once again. But in a government U-turn, all close-contact facial treatments were postponed. Fast-forward to August and facial treatments including brows and lashes were finally permitted, on the basis that beauty technicians and clients follow a handful of new procedures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Intrigued, I booked into Blink Brow Bar (arguably the buzziest destination for brows and lashes) to see what has changed post-lockdown. Unsurprisingly, there's a lot you need to be aware of.
The way you have your brows threaded has changed
If you've had your brows threaded before, you might be aware that some technicians hold one end of the thread in their mouth but this risks getting saliva on the thread and subsequently the client's skin. This is now not the case at Blink Brow Bar, for very obvious reasons. Instead, my technician placed the thread around the back of her neck and held it in her hands at all times to uphold stellar hygiene practices.
Patch tests are still mandatory
Since lash lifts and brow lamination have been off the cards for the past six months, you'll have to take another patch test 48 hours before your treatment, as it's important to rule out any potential reactions. While it may feel like a faff to head to the salon twice, especially if you're catching public transport, it's totally necessary and a technician won't perform the treatment otherwise. This also has to be booked via the app or website, and walk-ins will be turned away. I asked Blink Brow Bar's PR agency whether they are toying with the idea of DIY patch testing kits for at-home use, which would make things a lot easier and safer. They said, "At the moment, we prefer to administer patch tests in the salon to ensure that they are carried out safely. However, we are trying to find a foolproof way to make sure clients don't put themselves at risk if not conducting the patch test properly."
Staff will be in full PPE and you must wear a mask
Whether you're getting your brows or lashes done, and regardless of how long you're sitting in the chair for, wearing a face mask is a must while your technician carries out your treatment. At Blink Brow Bar, the experts are also dressed in fresh uniforms (put on in store) and a clear visor for all close-contact facial treatments. Each technician will change their gloves before a new client arrives.
Longer treatments might feel a bit strange
I booked in for a lash lift at the same time and it felt a bit uncomfortable at first, as my eyes were covered with clingfilm and an eye mask to speed up the process. But I got used to it quickly. For that reason, I'd suggest investing in a breathable face mask.
Each brow station is fully sanitised after use and clients are encouraged to use hand sanitiser throughout
When having your brows threaded, it's custom to have to stretch the skin around your eye area so that your brow artist can work their magic. For this reason, you will be encouraged to sanitise your hands multiple times throughout your treatment. Tent cards are placed on each counter or seat to indicate that the area has been fully sanitised before and after each client. If you're heading to a Blink Brow Bar station inside a shopping centre or department store, it's likely you'll have to sanitise your hands before entering, too, just to make sure.
Waiting areas are out of bounds
To prevent congestion and potential spread of the coronavirus, waiting areas are not being used. I was 20 minutes early for my patch test appointment at the Blink Brow Bar hub in John Lewis, Westfield Stratford, and both chairs (socially distanced, of course) were in use. Instead of standing around, I decided to browse and come back on the dot of my appointment. For this reason, it's best not to arrive too early.
Microblading isn't available just yet
A note on the brand's app and website mentions that microblading treatments aren't available just yet, which is understandable, as the procedure can take hours. That said, there are clinics dedicated solely to microblading which are offering the treatment following revised procedure and new rules. Download the Treatwell app to find your nearest available technician.
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