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A transformative visit to the Dublin brow queen

When I saw my friend’s perfect eyebrows I booked a flight home and an appointment with Kim O’Sullivan

“All right, out with it,” I said accusingly to my friend as we caught up on FaceTime. “What d’you mean?” she asked innocently, elevating a fantastic — and new — set of eyebrows as she did so. “Who or what is responsible for these eyebrows?” I demanded. “I must know. It’s as though Michelangelo has got into cosmetology.” My friend laughed. “Kim O’Sullivan,” she whispered solemnly, like Frodo referencing the ring of power. “She’s the best there is.”

I embarked on some detective work and quickly began recognising O’Sullivan’s work on well-known faces. Based at The Dublin Makeup Academy, an airy Georgian space on Fitzwilliam Street in Dublin, O’Sullivan has developed a reputation for two things — an incredibly soothing demeanour and giving you the best eyebrows of your life. On the pretext of visiting my loved ones but motivated by the Platonic ideal of an eyebrow to an embarrassingly significant degree, I booked a flight home from London at once.

O’Sullivan brought PhiBrows — a hyper-realistic form of semi-permanent brow make-up that involves depositing pigment into the skin (like a temporary tattoo) — to Ireland, and it is a hugely popular treatment. Anyone over 18 can try it, but it is game-changing for those who have experienced hair loss, as many people do. Always nervous of a beauty commitment beyond a few weeks, though, I wanted to try brow lamination. Thankfully, wispy brows have not been in style for some years, but not all of us are lucky enough to naturally have the larger, fluffier brows that are currently so coveted. They enhance facial architecture with a sort of soft, rested, eye-framing prettiness that I will happily lie in a chair for 45 minutes to achieve.

To create a full and voluminous brow from my not-particularly-impressive ones, O’Sullivan cleansed my brow area before applying a chemical solution which straightens the hairs (instantly giving “more” eyebrow) and forces them upward. My brow hair naturally grows horizontally, making my natural brows look quite dense but narrow. Pushing the brow hair more vertically gives instantaneous volume and achieves that fluffy look. Once the solution had done its magic, O’Sullivan mixed a bespoke tint based on my hair colour and desired look (more “naturally incredible eyebrow” than “look at my eyebrows!”). This tinted them, but crucially, caught and darkened every fine or invisible hair, instantly revealing eyebrow where there had seemingly been none before. A meticulous shape and trim ensued until my suddenly abundant brows were neat, requiring no make-up, and exactly what I’d wanted.


Lamination does require aftercare. No exposure to water for 24 hours is critical, and O’Sullivan recommends avoiding getting oils in them as well as a daily application of a brow serum. Without the latter, the hair can curl over time as the lamination process is drying and that moisture should be replaced to keep hair healthy and compliant. Results will last five to eight weeks and the more regularly you have the treatment, the longer results stick. Lamination saves time in the morning if brow make-up is a daily must for you and gives the face a lovely polish and structure. After one treatment, my brows were back to their natural state after six weeks, but I’ll be back in O’Sullivan’s chair the next chance I get.

Brow lamination at Dublin Makeup Academy costs €75 and requires a mandatory patch test 48 hours in advance.

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about beauty